A and C's Puffin Post for Pufflings magazine arrived this afternoon. They were very excited, as they always are on such an occasion. A has been a "puffineer" for about 18 months, and C since last Spring. Initially I bought membership for A as she was slightly slow to get excited about independent reading, so I was prepared to try anything which might enhance her enjoyment. The initial membership pack comes with a free cuddly puffin. "Puffy" as he is known has become A's favourite cuddly toy. Before Puffy came along A was not really interested in "acrylic fur stuffed with industrial waste" (as Jeremy Clarkson referred to a soft toy earlier in the week), but Puffy is now her lifelong and well-travelled friend. So she was now obsessed with a cuddly puffin, and still not particularly interested in reading. Fail (as "the kids" say).
As well as your very own Puffy (or outfit for Puffy after the first year), a year's membership entitles you to 6 bi-monthly magazines and 6 free books, which you choose from those listed in the magazine (one per magazine). The people at the Puffin Post recommend Puffin Post for Pufflings for children aged 6-8 and Puffin Post for those aged 9+. However, I really think it depends on the child. A has only just really begun to order anything other than the "easy readers" from the Free Books Bounty (as it's known), despite the fact that she reads very well. I don't think she would really have been able to access the books offered or the magazine effectively when she was 6, because of her lack of confidence and reading stamina. C is not yet quite 6, however, he has enjoyed reading the magazine for quite a while now, and has ordered a book which he has been able to read and enjoy since joining the Puffin club. He is more about the reading than the cuddly puffin. Like all of these things, I think it depends on the child.
The magazine has kept the two of them quiet for most of this evening. C has treated us to a "comedy show" of all of the jokes. I was able to do quite a convincing impression of a laugh for the first few, but it became quite a desperate and melancholic ghost of a guffaw by the time we got to "What force can you put on a chicken? Graveity". Boom. C enjoyed it greatly though, which I suppose is the point.
Each magazine contains a snippet, interview or article based on each of the books in that issue's giveaway, so that the reader is able to make an informed choice about which book they are going to choose. Both children use this to decide which book might be best for them, and now that she is more of a reader, A has discovered some books that she really, really loves through the Puffin Post, which she might never have read otherwise.
The club costs £39 per year to join. For six books, six excellent magazines, the excitement of perceived "freebies" and, potentially, a lifelong friend, I think this represents good value.