If you had a choice between Animal Friends on Parade Puzzle, Family Time, Ghost Story Box and Star Wars Super Graphic A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away, among others, what would you choose?

I had a hard time picking two out of the nine #PlayTestShare items Raincoast Books offered, ultimately deciding on Family Time and Ghost Story Box. Read my reviews below as well as the descriptions of the other #PlayTestShare items.

Which item are you most excited about? You can enter for your chance to win one of the #PlayTestShare books or activities courtesy of Raincoast Books. See the contest rules below.

Visit raincoast.com for more information about #PlayTestShare.

Family Time

Family time conversation starters are part of Raincoast Books' #PlayTestShare
I am sure this question will have lots of answers in a couple of years.

My eight-year-old son and I don’t lack for conversation. We discussed the pros and cons of the Canadian justice system on the way to school the other morning and we are constantly looking up information to answer questions he has asked.

Yet I chose Family Time (Raincoast Books, Chronicle Books, $12.95), which ended up being the tiniest and cutest little box of conversation-starting cards, because I thought it would be interesting to know what his earliest memory is (apparently he was three and said the word stupid. He didn’t know what it meant, but he got put into trouble and was put in a timeout at daycare) and said if he had to make a meal for the person sitting next to him, he would make a scrambled egg sandwich on toasted bread with ketchup and pepper for his dad. He also liked when I provided a memory a year about him starting when he was in the womb.

There are a number of questions in the box that I am looking forward to asking and getting an answer for simply because I am curious to know what one thing he would fix or change in the world or what family tradition would he like to create.

I have placed this box of cards in my purse and it will be perfect for our next car trip.

Family Time is one of the activities in Raincoast Books' #PlayTestShare
We choose Night Before Christmas as our book review while playing Family Time.

Ghost Story Box

Ghost Story Box was one of the activity and story books we could have reviewed during Raincoast Books' #PlayTestShare
There are lots of choices to help us make up our own spooky story.

I confess. I once had the Fairy Tale Story Box. My son used it a couple of times and then it just sat there, taking up space on his bookshelf so I got rid of it. And he noticed. And I got in trouble.

So when I noticed the Ghost version (Raincoast Books, Laurence King, $22.50), I knew I had to have it not just because it replaces the one I gave away, but because the subject matter was ghosts and we love Halloween. Each puzzle piece, made with quality card stock, is quite large and has a lot going on so, in theory, kids could create a lengthy story rich in detail with as many pieces as they chose.

I am not sure if it’s my son’s age or if it’s just my son, but he didn’t seem to be able to come up with a descriptive story. He said a line an image and his story ended fairly quickly. He got frustrated about his story and was upset he wasn’t able to create a longer one. I think the Story Box will be a great way to practice his storytelling and observation skills.


Other #PlayTestShare items:

#PlayTestShare Family Time, 50 questions to inspire conversation with your family.
#PlayTestShare Family Time, 50 questions to inspire conversation with your family.

After Dinner Amusements: Family Time 50 Conversation Starters by ($12.95, Chronicle Books)

Fifty thoughtful and playful questions about the past, present and future that will inspire great family conversations.

#PlayTestShare, Animal Friends on Parade Puzzle by Raincoast Books
#PlayTestShare, Animal Friends on Parade Puzzle

Animal Friends on Parade Puzzle by artist Junzo Terada ($21.99, Chronicle Books)

From a gorilla in a party hat to a hedgehog rat-a-tat-tatting on his drum, these animal friends from different habitats – the jungle, farm, woodland and Arctic – know that togetherness is something to celebrate. Featuring 12 double-sided uniquely die-cut pieces, this fun puzzle offers (nearly) endless combinations, providing hours of entertainment.

Donner Dinner Party is part of Raincoast Books #PlayTestShare
Donner Dinner Party is part of Raincoast Books #PlayTestShare

Donner Dinner Party A Rowdy Game of Frontier Cannibalism! by Forrest-Pruzan Creative ($27.95, Chronicle Books)

Who’s safe when there are cannibals hiding among you? That’s the question at the heart of this fast-paced game of social deduction in which cannibals and pioneers face off in a fight for survival. Set in the winter of 1846, players are members of the ill-fated Donner Party wagon train, stranded atop a mountain with no food. Who will avoid becoming tonight’s dinner and make it off the mountain alive? And who are the suspicious scoundrels hungry for human flesh? Rowdy, outrageous and full of playful deception, this party game packs a delightfully wicked twist!

French writer Herve Tullet releases Say Zoop!, his latest book in his Press Here series. Say Zoop! is featured in Raincoast Book's #PlayTestShare
Herve Tullet’s Say Zoop! is part of Raincoast Book’s #PlayTestShare

Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet ($21.99, Chronicle Books)

Make some noise! Shout OH!” Whisper “oh!” Say “Zoop”? Yes! “Zoop!” “Zoop!” “Zoop!” The newest book from Herve Tullet magically responds with bursts of colour and moving shapes, empowering children by letting their imaginations liberate and direct each page’s reaction. Tullet’s books define the genre of participatory bookmaking, encouraging readers to explore and interact with the physical book in all its dimensions. The reward is tremendous: a journey of whimsy and sheer fun that extends well beyond the book’s pages. In this worthy and exhilarating companion to the bestselling trio launched with Press Here, Tullet’s beloved dots will have readers literally “Ooh”-ing and “Ahh”-ing out loud in a happy collective encore.”

Read my review of Say Zoop! here .

Read my Q&A with Herve Tullet here.

Star Wars Super Graphic is part Raincoast Books' #PlayTestShare
Star Wars Super Graphic is part Raincoast Books’ #PlayTestShare

Star Wars Super Graphic A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Tim Leong ( $27.95, Chronicle Books)

Graphic design guru Tim Leong presents Star Wars trivia in an all-new way-through playful pie charts, bar graphs, and other data-driven infographics. From a Venn diagram of Yoda’s idiosyncrasies to an organizational chart of the Empire to a line graph of Grand Moff Tarkin’s management decisions, Star Wars Super Graphic shines a new light on the much-adored universe. Equal parts playful and informative, this visual love letter to the vast Star Wars universe will enchant fans of all ages.

My Little Cities Travel Matching Game is part of Raincoast Books' #PlayTestShare
My Little Cities Travel Matching Game is part of Raincoast Books’ #PlayTestShare

Travel Matching Game My Little Cities by Jennifer Adams ($21.99, Chronicle Books)

Mix and match with this classic matching game, which includes 36 robust, jumbo-size cards featuring charming illustrations by Greg Pizzoli that will have kids ready to pack up their bags and explore the world! Children will adore pairing colourful images of suitcases, taxis, stop signs and other classic travel imagery as they develop memory, concentration and identification skills.

Ghost Story Box is part of Raincoast Books’ #PlayTestShare.

Ghost Story Box Create Your Own Spooky Tales ( $22.50, Laurence King)

Create your own spooky tales – based on a unique and original format, this game contains 20 story-telling puzzle pieces printed on both sides. Each piece can be interchanged or flipped over to allow for all kinds of plot twists and turns, and there are even two alternative endings! When all the puzzle pieces are used, they stretch out to more than eight-feet long to tell your own mega ghost story!

Make and Move Mega Dinosaurs is part of Raincoast Books' #PlayTestShare
Make and Move Mega Dinosaurs is part of Raincoast Books’ #PlayTestShare

Make and Move Mega: Dinosaurs by Created by Sato Hisao ($23.99, Laurence King)

Five amazing moving dinosaurs to press out, slot together and play with!

Make a T-Rex, Triceratops, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Pteranodon. Each of these detailed 3D models comes with easy-to-follow assembly instructions, and no scissors or glue required!

Read my review of Make and Move Bugs here .

Royal Bingo is part of Raincoast Books’ #PlayTestShare

Royal Bingo illustrated by Holly Exley ( $41.99, Laurence King)

This majestically illustrated bingo game features portraits of 64 royal icons from around the world. Spot famous faces like William and Kate, or meet some less familiar figures such as the playboy prince Wenzeslaus of Liechtenstein.

Royal Bingo brings a fun twist to the traditional game, with all the European royal families represented, along with some more exotic courts such as Jordan, Brunei and Malaysia.

Each royal is further brought to life in the accompanying booklet, which details their personalities, foibles, gaffes and romances. Who will reign supreme?

Read the complete list as well as information about he contest at http://www.raincoast.com/blog


Which of these #PlayTestShare activity appeal to you? To enter for a chance to win a #PlayTestShare activity of your choice, courtesy of Raincoast Books, email contestsforbooktime@gmail.com with your name and which item you would like to win.

This contest is open to Canadian residents, 18 years and older, excluding residents of Quebec. No purchase necessary. The #PlayTestShare contest runs from 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 (Eastern Time Zone). Once the winner will be choosen. I will forward the winner’s contact information to Raincoast Books. A representative from Raincoast Books will collect the winner’s personal information, and award them their prize. Book Time and its affiliates are no longer responsibly for receiving the prize, which is valued at $12.95 and up, depending on activity chosen.

#PlayTestShare full contest rules

1. Agreement: These rules govern the “#PlayTestShare” (“Contest”). No purchase is necessary to enter the Contest. The act of entering the Contest constitutes acceptance of the Contest rules and the decisions of the Sponsor and the Contest judges, which decisions shall be final and binding upon all entrants.

Sponsor: Raincoast

Eligibility: The Contest is open to all legal residents of the Province of Ontario that are eighteen (18) years of age or older at the time of entry. You are not eligible to enter if you are (or you live with) an employee, officer, director, representative, agent, consultant or supplier of the Contest Sponsor or any of its affiliates (collectively, the “Promotion Entities”). Contest Sponsor reserves the right to verify the eligibility of the potential winners. Incomplete or illegible entries, bulk drop offs, photocopies, scanned copies, facsimiles or other mechanically or electronically reproduced entries will not be accepted and will be disqualified.

Contest Entry: To enter the Contest, email contestsforbooktime@gmail.com with your name and a note saying which item you would like. A valid e-mail address will be required. The Contest Period begins at 5:30 AM ET on Sept. 20, 2017 and ends at 11:59 PM ET Sept. 28, 2017. Limit of one entry per email address per day. The prize will be awarded to randomly selected entry. The winners will be selected by 10:00 AM ET Sept. 29, 2017. One name and email address, along with the requested prize, will be to forwarded to Raincoast Books. A representative from Raincoast Books will contact the winner directly, and award them her prize. Book Time and its affiliates are no longer responsibly for receiving the prize.

Prize: One activity book of the winner’s choosing, courtesy of Raincoast Books, and valued at approximately, $12.95 and up depending prize chosen.

Waiver of Moral Rights: As a condition of being declared a winner, each selected entrant releases the Sponsor and its related parties from any and all liability in connection with the Contest and/or the prize; (ii) confirming compliance with these Contest rules; (iii) consenting to the use of his or her name and photograph, in any and all forms of media, without further compensation, in any publicity carried out by the Sponsor and/or its advertising and promotional agencies.

Indemnity: By participating in this Contest, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless the Sponsor, and its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates and/or related companies and each of their officers, directors, shareholders, employees, advisors, assignees, agents, licensees, representatives, advertising, media buyers and promotional agencies from any and all damages, injuries, claims, causes of action, or losses of any kind (including but not limited to lawyers’ fees) arising out of or relating to your participation in the Contest; your receipt or use of any prize; your violation of any term of these Contest rules; your violation of any third party right, including without limitation any copyright, property, or privacy right; or any claim that your submission caused any type of damage to a third party.

Privacy: We use your personal contact information to administer this Contest, including contacting, announcing and promoting prize winners.

Banning: The Sponsor may, in their sole discretion, prohibit any person from entering the Contest whom it believes to be abusing the rules. Such abuse includes entering false information and voting more times than is permitted under these Contest rules.

Other: Odds of winning depend on the number and caliber of eligible entries received. This Contest is governed by the laws of Ontario and the laws of Canada applicable therein and is void where prohibited by law. The Sponsor reserves the right to cancel or modify the Contest or the Contest rules at any time without notice. All prizes must be accepted as awarded, are non-transferable and are not convertible to cash. The Sponsor reserves the right to substitute any prize or portion of the prize with a prize of equal or greater value. All prizes are awarded as-is and no warranties or guarantees are implied or expressed. Sponsor are not liable for any lost, late, misdirected or stolen entries or inability to process entries, or any errors, damage or negligence that may arise in connection with this Contest, including technical failures on any website or software, viruses, website disruptions, malfunctions or website down-time, human error or property damage incurred by any Contest entrant. Sponsor are not responsible for any errors or omissions in printing or advertising this Contest. Use of any automated system including robotic or form-filling software to enter or participate in this Contest is prohibited and will result in disqualification of all entries by anyone using such assistance. If a dispute arises regarding who submitted an online entry, the entry will be deemed to be submitted by the authorized account holder of the email address provided at time of entry. Authorized account holder is the natural person who is assigned to an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address.