Book Review: Boo Who? by Ben Clanton

Boo Who? by Ben Clanton is a story of a ghost who is new to a group and tries terribly hard to fit in. Since Boo is a ghost, it cannot hold tangible objects and is often unable to participate in games with his friends. Is there any way he can fit in? Eventually, Boo finds a game that he excels at. Boo Who? has simple and endearing characters which are easily identifiable by children like a robot, rabbit/unicorn hybrid, yellow fluffy monster and dinosaur. The sentences are kept to one or two per page, making it an easy bedtime story for parents to read out. 

This book is a lighthearted way to introduce to children who are starting or transferring schools and may be shy. Elise took to the story well as she recently started attending kindergarten with a new set of classmates, teachers and routine. 

To make the book more memorable for her, I decided to include a play element for her. Recalling a trick from eons ago during art class, I used white oil pastel to draw out Boo on a drawing block. Then, I took out an ice cube paint stick (frozen food colouring and water) for her to make Boo reappear. She shrieked out “Boo!” when she saw it. At least it was somewhat recognisable for her.

Distributed by Pansing, Boo Who? by Ben Clanton is available at all good bookstores. 

#ohmymats

About

#ohmymats are reusable colouring and dining place mats for children and children at heart. The mats are manufactured from food grade premium platinum silicone in a factory in Korea and has been lab tested as safe according to EU toy safety standards. The drawings in the current launch are designed by a team of four people from various walks of life, including a teacher and a pair of siblings on the Autism spectrum. There are designs which cater to children’s interests like dinosaurs, fairies, animals, educational designs like one with life cycles and insects (designed by a former MOE Science teacher) and Christian-themed designs (God’s Promise, Noah’s Ark).

Audrey, the creator of #ohmymats , took five years to bring the project to life as she wanted to be involved in the entire process from idea conceptualisation to manufacturing to make sure that the product was safe and suitable for children. As such, she spent time sourcing for suppliers, eventually settling on a factory in Korea that she had a long working relationship with. She invested in professional software to transfer the drawings from paper into a digital medium to be suitable for printing. Terming it as a “personal give back project”, she intends to assist struggling or new artists, persons with special needs and and other disadvantaged members of the community. 

I saw a pre-order sale for #ohmymats  and purchased three mats with a set of markers. I bought Vroom Vroom, Dino Land and Animal List, coincidentally all drawn by the same artist. The mats are packaged in clear plastic boxes and when I sniffed the mats, there was no odour. The mats come in two different sizes, small (38cm x 24cm) and large (48cm x 24cm).  

The mats are well made – the edges are rounded neatly with no jagged edges. You can roll the mat up like a wafer or fold it into quarters (cannot fold origami, sorry). When unfurled, there are no creases or fold marks. 

I tried scratching the black outline to see if the ink could be scratched off and no, it doesn’t come off even when I use my fingernail.

Any dry erase marker can be used with #ohmymats  but you can purchase the mats with a set of 12 Java antimicrobial markers from Korea. The colours stay on until you want to start over again. 

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Baby shark doo doo doo doo #ohmymats @ohmymats_sg

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The colours can be wiped off with wet wipes. I wet a piece of tissue for this video so there’re some black specks at the end. I was pleased at how the colours came off easily without staining the mat. 

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Cleans off easily too! @ohmymats_sg #ohmymats

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Time to put the mats to the test! The kids are in this Dino craze where they are enthralled by the ancient creatures. They play with the dinosaur figurines and flip through their Dinosaur encyclopedias (used to be mine, decades ago) every single day. Elise even learnt the word “prehistoric” from a Blippi song about dinosaurs. The mats have accompanying names and we happen to have a number of matching dinosaur figurines. She sat down and started colouring the dinosaurs, even remembering to cap the markers after she was done. 

Ta-da! Her creation. She chose the colours to use without any prompting from us. My husband wanted to clean up the colouring so it would be within the lines, but I think it’s neat enough for a 3 year old and it’s important that we recognise their achievements and not diminish their confidence by expecting them to meet our standards of colouring within the lines too early. 

The mats can be reused over and over and packed into bags for some quiet time during meals or flights. Many parents dread plane flights. It makes the non-religious pray (to whom?!) that their kids will not make a ruckus and get tsk-tsked by irritated passengers who are unable to escape from the plane. Out come the tablets and phones. “Shush, watch your Frozen”. OhMyMats were created to reduce reliance on gadgets and direct kids to a more wholesome and simpler activity. 

Since #ohmymats  can be used as dining placemats, your kids can colour while having their meals and everything can be popped into the dishwasher to be cleaned. It’s definitely worth buying since it can be easily washed off when stained with food.

Click here to purchase. 

GIVEAWAY

Win #ohmymats! Join the giveaway on Facebook and Instagram.

*** I made a special request for my order to be sent to me earlier for the purpose of this review. The actual stock will arrive in Mid November 2018. All the products were purchased during the pre-order sale and I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Nuts & Bolts

About

Nuts & Bolts is a quaint little standalone shop in Balestier Road specialising in open ended toys sourced from all over the world.

Open ended toys are toys which can be used in a variety of ways, depending on the child’s creativity and imagination. For example, a curved wooden board can be a rocker or flipped over to become a tunnel. It can be propped up against a sofa and used as a slide. Open ended toys are kept simple and as natural looking as possible.

The owner of Nuts & Bolts is Wei Xuan, a lovely homeschooling mama of two. Her children are her main priority and the opening hours of the store actually revolves around their schedule. As such, the store is not open daily but about twice a week. To maintain a comfortable experience for visitors, the store runs on an appointment-only basis.

Her children came up with the name Nuts and Bolts, as they used this term instead of “pins and needles”. Both children helped to set up the store by painting signs, fixing shelves, cleaning up… the entire store is a product of love by their family.

We had the pleasure of visiting the store twice and it was such fun for the children! The store has large glass windows to let natural sunlight shine through. The store itself is not large by any account, but it is well-designed and doesn’t feel claustrophobic. There are various corners where children can play at indoors. Behind the store is a grassy slope where children can run up and down and outside the store are climbing frames, large hollow blocks and a sand corner. These activities will be changed from time to time.

The first time we went there, the kids got to paint on seashells and spray coloured water on a piece of paper using a spray bottle while they painted on a mirror the next visit. 

Most of the products which are on sale are available for children to test out. Although there is no obligation to purchase, it is close to impossible to leave empty handed. The products are decently priced, taking into consideration the overheads required to maintain such a place. Play objects which promote gross motor skills such as the Wobbel board, Confidence Triangle, Large Hollow Blocks and the Step-up-step-down Rocking Boat can be placed in the home in place of electronic toys. 

A multitude of smaller toys promoting sensory development and creativity line the walls of the store. There are treasure blocks, which are wooden hollow blocks with acrylic centres that can be filled with anything from beads to feathers and buttons. Baby percussion instruments, mirrors, light pads with colourful acrylic paddles and geometric shapes… there are simply too many to list. 

Mirrors are an integral part of the Reggio Emilia approach because it adds depth and structure to a child’s learning when he is able to see the object from all angles. The mirrors sold are child safe and do not contain glass.

Wei Xuan mentioned that she likes observing how each child uses the play objects and behaves. Some are confident, some are shy, some need help while others don’t.

The children couldn’t keep themselves away from the sand area. Didi loved it so much, he put it in his mouth. Pro-tip: bring a bottle of powder if you’re intending to let your children play with sand so you can dust the sand off easily. There are no washrooms in the store so it may be wise to bring some water for washing hands too. 

It is a unique concept where children are allowed and encouraged to do what they want with the toys. There is no stress unlike in some stores where you feel like the salesperson is trailing you and guilt-tripping you into buying the products.

Over at Nuts & Bolts, it feels more like a playdate at a friend’s house. That said, it is still a store so please don’t bring your children there to play for hours without at least making a purchase to show your support!


Like Nuts & Bolts on Facebook to be eligible for a 5% discount!

Only cash or PayLah accepted.

*** This is not a sponsored review and no compensation was received in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.