Category Archives: toys

Trunki Sale til 8am PST Monday 31 at Haute Look

Well, I’ve been oogling the Trunki for several years now. One should realize as a parent that if something has a limited number of years of use, which most things do for children, other than bowls and cups (I still have my bunnikins bowl from childhood, and still eat out of it at 47!), one should buy it sooner rather than later, for the longest life per purchase.
(click image to go to trunki uk website)

But no, I bookmarked Trunki when my son was like 3, and looked at it in a store in town when he was four, and never bought it. Now at 5 1/4 he is nearly beyond the recommended years of use, but I decided to go for it, as there is now a super deal at Haute Look on it. This is a discount site for “haute couture” but also has deals on home decor, toys etc.

I’ve been dying to get a Trunki since my son has pretty much outgrown his stroller (I can still force him into them if he is sick and grumpy and I have to get someplace or walk for a long time) and we travel to visit my parents all the way across the country. It just seems like a great way for HIM to be responsible for his carry on and not me. Strollers are THE best for airline travel as you can take them gate to gate, loaded with all your coats, carry-on, purchases etc, and just dump them as you board the plane. And the airline has them ready for you to pile everything into as you deplane. But last year when he was 4.5 yrs old, it was really pushing it… my son didn’t sit in it one wee bit, I just pushed all our stuff. I understand bag ladies and their shopping carts. So loathe to give it up and carry everything for myself and my son.

Trunki movie!

But the Trunki has sit-on ride-em allure, as well as being easy for the child to pull. AND gives a place to sit and rest when tired, and can even be pulled by the parent with the child on it. They suggest 2-6 yrs old but I looked up reviews online and discovered that parents of 7 and even 9 yr olds were happy to have them. Perhaps the child’s legs are too long for riding but they loved to have their own pull-along suitcase, and a place to rest their butts in lines. So I went for it.

My friend got me to sign up to Haute Look and I discovered Trunki on sale for $27.99 instead of the $49.99 in shops here in town. We each got one and sent them both to the same address so we could share the $10.95 flat-rate shipping to Canada. So even with shipping, taxes and import, we are paying $38.50 apiece instead of $56.95 tax included we’d pay in town. And delivered to our door instead of slogging through snow and paying nearly $3 bus each direction. yay! So, since I think this is a GREAT deal and a GREAT product, I’m passing it on.

I guess I’m not the only one who thinks it is great, as when I discovered it online several years ago, the company was independent and now it is “Trunki by Melissa & Doug”… funny how these big companies keep getting bigger by snapping up the independents. I guess the owners played monopoly a lot as children!

The sale at Haute Look ends Monday 31 at 8am PST (so 11am here in Montreal), so you have to act quickly to get the Trunki there, but there will be new sales daily coming up if you are interested in signing up. My friend who invites me buys clothes for both her kids, as well as herself, on sale there. Great deals (though I am more a practical than fashion gal). Full disclosure: I get $10 credit if you sign up clicking my link and you buy something eventually (anything, at a later date)… though don’t shop for my sake!et

For Small Hands

Small Hands shovelI just lucked across a fun and funky site of child sized tools and toys for use in the kitchen, garden, camping, music arts and crafts called For Small Hands. They have all sorts of wonderful books about the outdoors, animals, bugs, cleaning up as well as their small sized tools from wheelbarrows to slide whistles and bug jars. It is “Presented by Montessori Services” and has some books about Montessori as well for parents. Free shipping in the US through March 31 on orders over $50! Have fun!Small Hands Worm bookSmall Hands Kitchen

Say it in French! Say it in English! Say it in Chinese! (and chinese bingo!)

Well, Big Boy used to say constantly: “No chinese mommy. Talk english. No talk French mommy, Talk English.” And I fought it any way I could… buying those dreaded popular character items: Dora storybooks in Chinese (really, they make great dvds but really horrid storybooks), Bob the Builder in French, Thomas Train in French, heck I might even have broken down and bought Caillou (long story, but we are not fans of Caillou) if they had it in Chinese. Offering smarties one at a time if he’d name the colors in French and not English, playing hide and seek in the park in Chinese… making him watch his favorite movies in French or Chinese if possible. Now he can sing Annie’s “Tomorrow!” theme song in French… I certainly can’t do that!

It must have worked as I am thrilled to say that these days he REQUESTS me to say things in all three languages. ALL three. I understand that it is often prolonging the fun: “mommy, sing Frere Jacques in French. Sing it in English, Sing it in Chinese: liang zhi lao hu” or bedtime: “Look for me hiding in French mommy. OK, try to find me again in Chinese. Now I will hid and you find me in English” but it makes me very happy! Yay!!!!

It is a bit long sometimes (he had to count the crackers in three languages before eating his soup, we had to read our new Cheryl Christian counting book three times, in English, Chinese and French before finishing supper) but I am all for it. And we certainly cannot say he is confused!

Chinese Character Bingo

In other news, Baining of Mandarinkids has said I’m bad for her budget! Ahah! Passing on my Chinese learning finds to other addicts is the reason I started blogging again! I must have justification for some of this online Chinese materials research and spending! So, just for Baining, I present you my find of the night: Chinese Bingo! It is actually bingo for learning Chinese characters, 100 at a time. There is Basic Character bingo, which uses just single radical characters, so you have a base for learning characters made up of more than one basic character. There are six different levels of Common Character bingo (which you can combine)… each with 100 characters, starting with the most common, next most common etc. Apparently if you konw 600 characters you can read 82% of Chinese text. Personally, I think it is more than a matter of knowing characters, one also needs to know expressions or you will really be misunderstanding a lot. But 600 characters is a good place to start, and these people have them in coordinated sets of flashcards and bingo games, as well as wall posters that show stroke order, stroke types and names, pinyin, tones etc. A fun find. Check it all out at

Kingka Set 1

Ps, we play a form of bingo with our Kingka game (we have the first set and it really is teaching Big Boy to recognize characters). I’m planning a review post on the Kingka game in the near future. Til then, we recommend it. Very solid and well made, very versatile, and enjoyable for even the youngest learners (no reading required… though they will learn to recognize, ie read, chinese characters).

ps. I just learned that Chinasprout has the Bingo games. They are probably less limited in payment options than

EReadbook: last couple days of free shipping AND Happy Sharing program!

Well, today we got our Ereadbook Touch pen and books… so very exciting. They arrived super quick from Ontario (ordered Monday afternoon and arrived Wed by 12:30 noon!), in perfect condition. All files for the books I ordered already loaded on the pen, so we were good to go upon opening the box.

And it was a much bigger box than I expected. Just the Starter Set has enough in it to keep you busy for weeks. I thought it might be very little material without getting the extra books in the Packages, but the six books that come with the pen have all sorts of things, from games to stories. And the other books that we got with it (Classic Fairy Tales, 600 Words, English Chinese dictionary… which is hardcover btw) are all wonderful. The pen can “speak” for about 6 hours before needing recharging. Recharging is done via the USB cable, that plugs into a regular AC adapter that goes into a wall socket. A neck lanyard keeps the pen around your kid’s neck. It shuts off by itself after giving several verbal cues that you are leaving it unattended!

Right now is offering free shipping within Canada until Feb 28, for the Chinese Spring Festival (includes Chinese New Years). I think it is definitely taking advantage of, as the starter box is quite bulky and heavy. They sent it by expedited, and I needed to sign for it.

If you do order the pen, either this week or later, you can say that you were refered by me, Leanne, and that my pen ID # is E2003-132067. Email your order to “”

They have a “Happy Sharing Program” (Word .doc) to encourage people to refer their friends (and complete strangers!)… give the pen ID of the person who referred you and when you buy a pen and register it for warranty, you will get $10 credit off your next regular priced books, and the person referring you will also get $10 credit off THEIR next regular priced books. Win-Win. Here is the price list and package descriptions

Anyways, my son likes it and wants to actually listen to Chinese in books for once, and I like it in that it really helps my listening skills in Chinese. The book’s various segments (illustrations, pinyin, chinese characters) speak with a variety of male, female and children’s voices, and say things from short and cute to complicated. One can listen to a single phrase many times over to help with listening comprehension and reading help. I think that one of the major uses for me will be to increase my reading-out-loud skills, that I can transfer to our other non-talking Chinese picture books.

And already, just reading “Xiao Hong Mao” (Little Red Ridinghood), I have picked up vocabulary, syntax and phrases I can use to play with my son!

I will try to get a proper photo-post done to show the whole pen set and books in the near future. For now, I recommend it.

Price List for Touch Reading Pen

Well, the good people at have said it is fine I share with you the price for their Touch Reading Pen Starter Kit and their Special Offers (Starter Kit bought together with various book sets). It isn’t on their website in English yet. So, here it is: Touch Reading Pen Cdn price list (52kb Word Doc) To order, email order @

You might want to hold off ordering until I post that I have bought a set myself (waiting on funds!). I will post my registration # here and everyone quoting it will get a $10 credit towards your purchase. BTW All prices in Cdn. For more information, look at my previous post on eReadbook and the Touch Reading Pens, the “Canadian Update”, and also the website.

eReadbook Audio Pen Canadian Update!

Audio Book Starter kit 1

Starter Kit Audio Book 1

Well, I got several informative email responses today from Emily, at eReadbook’s Canadian distributor, (See previous Post on Chinese English Audio Pen and books)

Turns out that:

  • They have FREE SHIPPING WITHIN CANADA from February 1-28 for Chinese Spring Festival
  • Don’t worry if you have a Mac: The pen itself can be loaded with the audio from the cds that come with the books by putting the cds in your computer and plugging the pen in via USB: no installation of software is required for this
  • If you are worried about doing it (what with a whole load of Chinese instructions and if you have a Mac like me) they will gladly load the audio for the books you have ordered onto the pen you order at the same time before sending your order to you, as a customer service
  • They are VERY helpful on the phone or email
  • They have a starter set that includes the pen, the starter set of 8 books, the Happy Touch Reading Board (I have no idea what this does, and if it needs a PC to make it work, but it has an audio file of over 100M), 8 Touch Reading Cards for Children Radio Drama: Journey to the West (this is the classic Monkey King story), MP3 Player Card and Recording-Comparing Card, USB Cable and Charger, and a cord that attaches to the pen so it won’t fall to the floor.
eReadbook Starter Kit book 3

Starter Kit Audio Book 3

There are many other Packages available at 20-30% off.

If you wish to see the pricing, I am not sure that I am allowed to post it here, since it is not right now online at their site, but just email Emily at order @ and say that you saw the pen and books on this blog, and I imagine she will send you the whole list of Starter Kit and various packages and pricing that she sent me.

What with free shipping to Canada now, it is a good time to buy if you are seriously interested.

eReadbook Touch-Reading Pen

When I was in Beijing in fall 2007, during my adoption trip to bring Big Boy home, I went into a large foreign language bookstore (which meant most books were in English!) and saw a funky electronic audio pen and books that it could read. Seeing as how at that point my knowledge of chinese was extremely limited, and I knew so few characters, AND I wanted to keep my son’s heritage language, I was quite interested. To have books in Chinese, with a wee pen that could read them out loud with proper pronunciation… what a great thing! I could learn pronunciation, he could associate sounds with characters, pinyin and images.

eReadbook Monkey King1

Ereadbook Monkey King 1

But you know how it is when you are traveling (or just shopping)… you think “that is cool, but a bit expensive. Do I really need it?” and think, “Well, I can always get it another time”.

Do NOT do this. I did this in Europe when I did a backpacking trip in 1981, and still regret not buying those soft grey suede slump boots. I thought, yeah, they’ll be EVERYWHERE in Canada in a year or two, after all they’re EVERYWHERE here now in Europe. Nah. Never happened. And they were sweet: soft, comfortable, attractive… sigh. And that was nearly 30 yrs ago!

So, did I learn my lesson? No. I went back nearly a week later, to that Beijing bookstore, and the display was taken down. I tried to explain to the staff in broken Chinese, and their broken English, what had been there (several women demonstrating, a huge table of books and pens)… they finally found ONE staff member who unlocked a wee door behind a cupboard, and found one demo pen with no price or instructions… they were like “well, um, yeah, those people aren’t working today, we’re sure to have them someplace…”… Well, I was over the Pacific ocean that time the next day. So it didn’t happen.

ereadbook piglet school

eReadbook The Piglet goes to School

Now, more than two years later, I saw on a chinese forum that someone was looking for a Leapfrog-like audiopen reading system for Chinese, and just couldn’t let it go. Much googling later, I came across this Human Pen (it seems to be a transliteration of their Chinese name: Hongwen?) and I was all excited. But they are only available in China. They were very nice and offered to ship the books and pen for about $120 (shipping only), but even my most splurgeriffic self couldn’t justify that.

And then I made a wonderful discovery at (yes, home of lost and forgotten items)… eReadbook. THIRTY TWO eReadbook items! A whole slew of inexpensive books (think set of 3 full color audio-enabled books for $13.99) and strangely, on offer only one pen in stock (out of three stores offering said books).

ereadbook pen in box

eReadbook Pen in box

And of course, and its cohorts will only ship books, cds and dvds to Canada. No toys nor other items. And apparently audio-enabled books with cds in them, despite being only books and cds, are TOYS and thus ineligible to be shipped to Canada. So the search was on.

I followed up the books’ amazing “trial pages” and “preview pages” to but it is pretty much all chinese. Then I ended up at, which sounded more promising. (Caution: every page on the .us site has a video ad that loads before you can see anything else=timeconsuming). Phoning them got someone who could SORT of speak SOME English… well, enough to say they can’t speak English, and gave me the cell phone # of someone who could. And SHE did answer the phone, in fluent English, while driving: “whomever gave you my cell phone #?!!” I think she stayed on the road, at least long enough to give me the Canadian distributor.

ereadbook early learning

eReadbook Early Learning cards: home

Oh, those words are like angels singing in my ears. CANADIAN DISTRIBUTOR! So, I present to you, after much research, the website of I suppose that means to reach high or somesuch? Don’t you just love English spoken by semi-fluent allophones? Thank god I don’t make up bad chinese-sounding urls… like um, “Wenjonggal”!! (yeah it comes from Zhong Wen= Chinese) LOL!

Anyways, do go check it out. If you are American, check out the eReadbook offerings… the prices are MUCH lower. The pen itself is $98 US plus shipping but once you have that… it holds 2G, you can upload the audio files and read the books, which mostly come in sets and are really reasonably priced.

ereadbook pen

eReadbook Touch-Reading Pen

If you are Canadian, go to the site. Especially check out the Bilingual Early Learning section. Watch the videos on how the books work by clicking on the book titles, and also click on the book covers to get a flash sample of the book pages sans audio. Look through the Audio-book Library for a nice selection of books in Chinese. Some are very simple with one or two phrases per page and others are long chapterbooks or graphic novels.

Check out the Try Me! in the Audio Reading-Pen section… click not only on the English, characters and pinyin, but also the images for sounds, whole sentences and word pronunciations.

To buy in Canada, most stores seem to be in the Toronto region, but apparently one can also use Paypal to order by email… here is Where to Buy.

Now if they would only put their FAQ section in English, same with the User Manual and Upgrade information, as well as their Special Offers, it would be great. AND someplace put down their pricing for the actual pen and shipping. Please please put pricing for the PEN!

The books all have pricing in the details… again the prices are reasonable: often $30 for 6 books, $50 for 8 books etc… not as cheap as but in a world where a single French book can set you back $15-$30 easily we shan’t quibble.

And finally, I wish it was mac compatible: the pen runs on mp

ereadbook dictionary

eReadbook "English" (bilingual) dictionary

3s which are uploaded via USB, but appears to be Windows/Vista on PC… I guess I could live with using someone else’s computer to download 2G of audio and then just use the pen as is. The pen recharger seems to be AC, and not chargeable by USB only as is my iPod (which gets used almost never as it is always dead when I wish to use it) (*update, one can drag and drop the audio files on a mac, or, as I did, get the people at to upload the files for the books you are buying onto the pen before they ship it to you)

ereadbook fruit map

eReadbook Fruit and Veg wall poster

Anyways, I hope you are as excited as I am! If anyone runs out and gets this, tell me how it went (the buying/shipping/customer service part) and how you find the actual products’ performance. We are DYING to know!

*click on all images in this post to go to book details.

*Update: we bought it and we love it! If you do order the pen, either this week or later, you can say that you were referred by me, Leanne at, and that my pen ID # is E2003-132067. Email your order to

They have a Happy Sharing Program (Word .doc) to encourage people to refer their friends (and complete strangers!) give the pen ID of the person who referred you and when you buy a pen and register it for warranty, you will get $10 credit off your next regular priced books, and the person referring you will also get $10 credit off THEIR next regular priced books. Win-Win. Here is the price list and package descriptions

ereadbook find good friend

eReadbook Find a good Friend

ereadbook 3 kingdoms

eReadbook 3 Kingdoms in Cartoons

ereadbook 600 words

eReadbook 600 Necessary Words age3-4

New “astore”

Well, we are in bed with the devil! I have made an “astore” of books, dvds and cds that we like and use, which is over there in the right hand menu under “All Our Fave Books”. Of course it is not ALL our fave books, but rather the ones available at But I had to find some way for the “link category” to start with something alphabetical proceeding “Blogroll”, as this thingie doesn’t allow for manual ordering of “categories” over there.

And I DID try to imbed the astore into a page, like the “About” page, up there on the top menu, but for whatever unknown reason, anytime I pasted the iframe html into the “html” new page editing window, and saved it, WordPress just “disappeared” it all, and said “0 words”. So incredibly frustrating.

Anyways, do go and check out what we recommend in the way of adult and children’s chinese learning materials. It will be like coming home with us and browsing through our bookshelves!

I’ll try to get around to updating it soon.

And if you dislike Amazon, you can check out They are good people, and my fave chinese learning materials store.