When is a book not a book? Several years ago, I bought a convertible book for my nearly nephew, that built up into a truck and he adored...

When a Book is Not Just a Book

Sunday, May 29, 2016 BookBairn 6 Comments

When is a book not a book?

Several years ago, I bought a convertible book for my nearly nephew, that built up into a truck and he adored it! So, I was delighted when Miles Kelly publishers got in touch to offer us a sneak preview of their newest convertible book. This new addition to the range is a beautiful submarine/underwater story book/playmat.

Written by Claire Philip and illustrated by Simon Abbott, this invention is truly ingenious! As a book, the story tells of a underwater adventure as the submarine and it's passengers travel towards a shipwreck, passing many sea creatures on their journey. The illustrations are bright and colourful and all the sea creatures are instantly recognisable even to little readers like BookBairn. She can easily point out the dolphins, turtle and whale and can be entertained for several minutes looking for the crab. I have no doubt that this book will advance her vocabulary for underwater creatures. As a story, I would say that it lacks a narrative and any real characters, instead being more of a tour of the ocean depths. This is where the ingenuity of a book that converts comes into play.

You can fold the entire book out flat as a long playmat which has a path for children to play with their own toys as they trace the path of the submarine from the story. And I'm now on the hunt for a submarine toy!

But the real star element of the 'book' is when you build it up, using the velcro straps, into a 'climb-inside' submarine. BookBairn now shouts "sub sub!" when she wants to climb inside and explore the depths of the ocean. She enjoys spotting the sea creatures, looking through the porthole, lifting the front up and down and opening and closing the door. She is still a bit too young to really 'role play' but she does enjoy playing with her toys inside, and even flipping through the pages of her other books.

I love that this 'book' is so engaging, colourful and vibrant, introducing sea creatures to my little BookBairn! I am surprised by how robust the submarine has proved to be, it is sturdy and strong ensuring that even with a bit of rough play it will endure, this submarine isn't going to take on water easily.

The idea of a convertible book truly is ingenious. For us, we haven't really explored the book element particularly much, as BookBairn sees this as more of a toy, always wanting the submarine built up to play inside. This is probably reflective of her age (she's nearly 15 months - where did my baby go?) and the publishers do suggest that their convertible range is aimed at children aged 3+. I imagine that older children would love to let their imaginations run wild as they go on their underwater adventures. However, we've still had plenty of fun out of it!

Miles Kelly have a whole range of these wonderful convertibles from cars to tractors to spaceships (to see the full range click here). Something for every adventure!

Climb onboard for your own adventure! Mummy and BookBairn xx

BookBairn really enjoyed watching
her favourite TV show 'Hey Duggee'
from inside the submarine.

*DISCLAIMER* I was given our convertible book for free for review purposes, however, all words and opinions are my own.

Read With Me


  1. A book is not a book when it's a submarine. I thought this was great when I saw it and BookBairn certainly loved it. It was lovely to see her point to the animals and name them and she just loved sitting inside it and looking through the window.

    1. It's also a great place to chuck all the toys when she's napping!

  2. I think that these convertible books are great fun for little people.

    Wouldn't it be great if they made them adult sized too?!


    1. I like that idea Catherine! I'll have one that folds into a bed please!

  3. We reviewed this too, my three year old loves hers, she often asks to sleep in the submarine lol. Thanks for sharing with #ReadWithMe

    1. Love that she wants to nap in there! Not sure BookBairn would like that so much, she's a cot kinda napper!