Happy 2016 and happy new “toy of the month”! I know happy New Year gets tired after about the 10th day of January, but as it’s my first toy review for the year, I wanted to wish you much love and joy for the year ahead.
So this month’s toy review is rather an interesting one. It intrigued me when I was first told about it and I wanted to learn more and see how it would work. The concept is something a bit different, a bit special, a little unique and something all parents need at one point int their children’s lives….
Yup, you heard me, ok so you intrigued too? I know you are!
I was about 10 years of age when I found out I was going to be part of a whole brave new world. A world which I preferred not to be in but via a slip of the tongue from my Aunt, my world came crashing down for me that Christmas many moons ago. I guess in my heart of hearts I kind of knew the truth, although I swore I had even woken one Christmas Eve to see Santa delivering my presents in my Santa sack at the end of my bed. Or perhaps I truly had…more on that later…
So this toy review, speaks from the heart as I still remember and realise that was the day I started to grow up. I wish this secret manual and society had been around back then as it would have helped ease that transition and lack of faith and trust I felt with the grown ups around me.
For this review, I decided to also enlist my 14 year old niece to help as she has been privy to the secret for a few years and I thought it would be good to get her feedback.
The Society of Seasonal Secretkeepers Field Guide, a stunning society token in a little black velvet bag and bookmark all inside a black briefcase with an official briefing letter.
The packaging really lends itself to being part of a secret society, which is exactly what they envisaged when they started their Kickstarter campaign for it. A little more of their story can be read here.
So come on what is it you ask, well it is a manual of sorts, a special guide to help a child who may have found out some of life’s secrets. It helps them to understand that they need to keep those secrets to themselves to allow other children to cherish the magic a bit longer. Or as the author Emily J Parnell, quite aptly puts it, it is
“A tradition for when they outgrow their shelf elf. Something based in truth, yet still fun and intriguing. A way to teach them the joy of Christmas, and the magic of giving. From this effort came the Society of Seasonal Secretkeepers.”
The 80 page manual is in 4 parts: new agents are “inducted” into the secret society, then there is “A book of Ancient Secrets and Truths” which teaches the child about the Society of Seasonal Secretkeepers, thirdly “The Modern Agent” training manual and finally the secret missions section.
The first part is great as it helps make the child feel ultra special as they get inducted into the secret society along with a pinky swear with their trusted “Agent Adviser”.
The second section, allows the child along with his “Agent Adviser” to understand the history and traditions about at Christmas and Easter and also to understand his or her own family traditions and belief system. The wording has been carefully chosen to allow for all family situations and traditions.
Most importantly this section helps the child to decode the “Mysterious, Maybe Awful Truth” about certain seasonal traditions they have been raised on.
What I do like about this second part is it helps to explain that the truth behind it all, and by looking at the child’s own family traditions, they come to understand that these seasonal traditions are in fact real. The magic is in fact real because,
“Magic can be made to feel real through traditions and stories.”
I think this part of the manual is the shining star of the whole manual as it helps the child to feel comfortable with the “awful truth” and helps turn distrust into hope and magic for the next generation. The child gets to ask questions of the “Agent Adviser” and helps to understand that her parent has also gone through the very same experience and emotions when they were a child.
My niece found it a little confusing at first but she didn’t go through it with her “Agent Adviser” aka her mum, which is what is suggested in the book. Once she did this, she found it easier to understand and it makes a great bonding session between parent and child. My 14 year old niece, is very much in the techy world and she wasn’t as keen as I was to delve into this field guide. But they have thought of that too! There is a Facebook page with more tips and hints as well as their website that has information too.
The third part is a pretty cool manual with “In training duties” like “Help create magic for non –agents”, “Go Incognito”, “Agent Personality test”, it helps the child to learn about keeping the secret but also that they can still fully participate in the magic and traditions they have grown up with. It may even be more fun, keeping the secret and maintaining the magic for the non –agents in their lives.
There are 5 “Agent missions” that need to be completed which is the final section of the manual and help to teach children about gratitude, random acts of kindness and helping others in need.
Essentially the premise of the book is that kindness has created the magic of these traditions and that the child after learning the “awful truth” needs to become a Secretkeeper to ensure these seasonal traditions are kept alive and well for others.
As the author is herself a mum and created the idea after her 9 year old son told her he knew the truth, she has thought of everything a child and a parent needs to have in this guide. Plus she has made it a fun, interactive and thoughtful.
It provides you as a parent with a really useful tool to help your child manage their emotions on that horrible day when your child finally works out the truth about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth fairy. Together you can go through all those myriad of questions that they raise about seasonal traditions and also explore your own family ones.
It allows them to realise they can still be very much part of the magic but instead keep the secret close to their heart. Now they will see the delight and wonder of seasonal traditions through the eyes of the younger folk. Not only that but they still get to believe in their own family traditions at Christmas and Easter time and ultimately enjoy the best of both worlds!
Toy of the Month: The Society of Seasonal Secretkeepers Field Guide
Helps to teach kids: the importance of traditions & beliefs
Great for: teaching children about seasonal traditions and the magic that lives within these in a fun, informative manner. Also for that horrible, dreaded day that parents face when their children find out the truth!
RRP: US$27.99 for the manual and gift set. www.s3hq.com
Ages: 5 – 13 years or when your child learns the “awful truth”