Book Reviews: Tonka Fire & Construction Books

LittleBrother received two very different books by the same company for birthday and Christmas. I have two very different opinions on them and, as they are fire related, I thought I would share them here on the blog.

The first book is the Tonka, My First Puzzle Book. The concept is great, in theory. The book itself is a padded board book with an open front window to display the first puzzle which is a wonderful ladder truck. Other puzzles inside include a dump truck, a big rig, a fork lift and an ambulance. For our boys, this book seems like a win-win-win-win: things that go, specifically fire trucks and puzzles in a book! We’re puzzle lovers, book lovers and fire truck lovers. It should be great.

It isn’t.

Missing Pieces

You might notice in this picture that there are puzzle pieces missing. I have no idea where they are though I assume that they are somewhere under LittleBrother’s bed. It would be one thing if I really was blaming him for losing him. However, the puzzle pieces themselves are to be blamed. They are very, very thin, very, very flimsy cardboard. They don’t fit very well in the puzzle-book page to begin with so any slight pushing to get a piece to fit sends them all askew. Even BigBrother who is great at jigsaw puzzles has abandoned this book. It’s frustrating for even me when I’m trying to clean up the mess it inevitably makes every time I pick it up, puzzle pieces floating to the floor. They slip and slide for me as well.

I learned today that these books are actually part of a series with other variations available. Appealing to all kinds of kids, they have Sesame Street, Princesses and even My Little Pony. Despite wide appeal, I would not suggest purchasing these books unless they make changes to the quality of the puzzle pieces themselves.


THAT said, I am absolutely in love with the Tonka, Magical Magnets, Trucks at Work! book. (Which, by the way, I can only find the Spanish version to link you to online. Strange.) This book is also a things-that-go type that happens to include some fire trucks and ambulances. Also featured are various construction vehicles. This book is also a board book but does not feature a padded cover.

What makes this book awesome? Magnetic pages. And, obviously, magnets.

LittleBrother Playing

It came with “over 20” magnets as it says on the front cover. I count 21 right now but take that with a grain of salt. We might have lost some at one point or another as this has been a well used play-book. The magnetic pages feature scenes in which the trucks and other associated prop magnets can act out rescue, construction or other scenes. A building is on fire on one page, road is being built in another. (As a note, each book has a small bit of wording to read for each activity page, puzzle or magnet scene.) I find that the magnets stick well and still manage to slide around the page. We have found that this book, due to the fact that the magnets actually stick, is great for car rides. I think we might take it with us to t-ball games to keep LittleBrother from darting onto the field. I think the only way this book could be improved is if one or two of the magnets were a firefighter or a construction worker.

These books also seem to be part of a series (though I can’t find an English version of the Tonka one online). Also available are Elmo, Spiderman (!) and Transformers (!).

It’s funny how two books by the same company can illicit two totally different reactions from me. It goes to show you that quality means everything though. If the puzzle book would have been made just a little better, it would be a family favorite as well. As a bit of further review, LittleBrother has been sitting and playing with the magnetic book the entire time I have been writing this review. It obviously has his approval.

[Disclosure: These were gifts by a family member, not given to solicit a review. Links will not make me any money but might make you spend your own. Apologies.]


Cyber Monday

6 Replies to “Book Reviews: Tonka Fire & Construction Books”

    1. I think we might have lost a magnet. Because 21 is an odd number and I can’t believe they’d give us 21 magnets. HA! But really, we’ve had them since Christmas and if we only lost one or three, that’s amazing!

  1. I thought of you the other day…Our library had a new book – Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms. I couldn’t remember if you’d reviewed it. On the very off chance you haven’t seen it yet, check it out!

  2. Thank you! My 4 year old lives for firetrucks at this point.I need a new book to satisfy him. We went to the Pgh Children’s museum last week and he threw a fit to come home and play with his rescue truck. UGH. I love your blog, by the way. :) Have a great week.

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