Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

A Queen and Her Court Book,CD, and Chess set

A Queen and Her Court Book,CD, and Chess set

Fall 2015 Games
Ages: 5 & Up
Manufacturer: Cindy Rose
Price: $29.95

Subtitled "A Children's Story of Beginning Chess Moves," this combination chess primer (book, CD, canvas chessboard and standard chess pieces,) is designed to capture a younger child's imagination with the age-old game of chess while making learning it easy. As its creator, Tampa, Fla., elementary-school teacher Cindy Holtzapple-Rose, has successfully used her alternative chess-teaching approach with her own classrooms.

Yes, playing chess offers educational benefits, such as raising IQ, exercising both sides of the brain, improving memory, increasing problems-solving skills and bolstering concentration. The 34-page book teaches chess moves by telling an Alice-in-Wonderland-like tale about the spell-breaking battle between the White Queen Ivory and the Black Queen Onyx. As the narrative unwinds, so do all of the basic moves of chess in a way young children can easily grasp.

At the back of the book is a double-page paper chess board with cut-out paper chess pieces so a child always has a chess set handy with the book. But while the cut-out chessboard and pieces aren't going to lure many elementary-school kids to love chess, the foldable, pliable canvas chessboard and large plastic pieces packaged with the book may.

The pages of the book dedicated to chess notation-a system for recording chess moves during a match-may interest more advanced players more than beginners. (A nod to Ms. Rose's optimism.) Unfortunately, the accompanying CD misses the opportunity to embellish and add new content, such as videotaped game moves with explanations, or an entire game. Instead, it is a recording of page-by-page still images from the book with an audio reading.

That said, there's appeal in this home-grown product. It's approachable and affordable, especially for elementary schools and libraries not overflowing with resources.

Don Oldenburg   ©2015 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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