Reviewed by Julie Powell
Having a 5-year-old (that has just finished Year One) who is a reluctant reader and writer I was thrilled to find out that we had been selected to review a three-month subscription to Banjo Robinson, the children’s pen pal. This came as perfect timing for us as I was keen to keep my little one’s interests in reading and writing going over the school holidays and this looked like just the right thing.
Banjo Robinson is a magical globetrotting cat who sends real, personalised letters from exciting destinations around the world.
The subscription package requires an adult to fill out a basic questionnaire online to begin with so that Banjo can personalise his letters to you, this was very simple and straightforward to do and only took a matter of minutes to do so. Once this was done it was a case of sit back and await Banjo to write his first letter. We didn’t have to wait long as the introductory letter and information pack came within a matter of days, I hadn’t told my son that this was coming so it was a wonderful surprise for him to receive it and he keenly read the letter aloud to me and his 4-year-old brother who is due to start school this September.
The introductory pack came with a letter from Banjo explaining to my son that he was due to set off on a world tour and that he would be writing to him along his way to tell him all about his travels. Banjo also asked that he write back to him and in the welcome pack it included some paper and an envelope in order to do so. The pack also included a map of the world post with places to put stickers to track Banjos journey and included some personalisation stickers which my son was eager to use and wrote his reply to Banjo the same day! Banjo also asked for him to draw him a picture of somewhere that he would like to explore – my son chose to draw picture of London and is now begging me to take him for a day trip there!!
In order for Banjo to receive his letter he asked him to post it via cat mail, which involves posting the letter under your sofa for Buster the neighbourhood cat to take – this bit was a little bit confusing for both boys as they couldn’t understand how and why a cat would be coming into our house, so I was put on the spot slightly having to work some mummy magic of myself to come up with some answers!
Fast forward two weeks and the next letter from Banjo was just received, this time telling us that he was exploring Greece. The letter was full of facts about Greek culture and famous places to visit in Greece, which my son wanted to see photos of on the computer – this was nice as I was able to give him a bit of a lesson on Google and so he was then able to search for the places himself and see where Banjo was, he then went on to find Greece on the poster map and stick the sticker for Greece that arrived with Banjos letter to mark where Banjo was. As I’m writing this he’s currently writing out his reply to Banjo and telling him all about our holiday.
What I liked about the letters is that you can add your own P.S. message to the bottom of the letters from Banjo by going online and writing up to 400 words yourself as if it was from Banjo – they then add this to the next letter that is sent out to your child. I tried to incorporate what my son had put in his reply to Banjo to keep the magic going that Banjo had received his reply. However, I didn’t receive a reminder in order to do this and feel this could easier be forgotten about!
There are various subscription packages to choose from ranging in price from £5.15 to £5.95 per month (12, 6 and 3 months), all the packages include the introductory welcome pack and two letters per month the price just varies on how long you subscribe for.
All in all I think it is an excellent idea to keep children ages around 5-7 engaged in reading and writing, learning over the holidays, giving them a break from the tv and also gives them something to talk about to their teacher and classmates when they are back to school, so I would rate it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Prices start from £5.15 per month based on a 3, 6 or 12 subscription.
For more information or to take out a subscription visit www.banjorobinson.com.