Hari is a green elephant and his mission in life is to never let children forget safety, doing this via books, characters and hand puppets (we’ve got a Hari himself). The aim appears to be for parents to read the books to their younger kids and use the puppet to reinforce the message while making it fun. Older kids can read it for themselves.
It works pretty well, too, and we like it. (While there is a very loose connection with Congleton, if it was rubbish it would not be getting reviewed!)
I used two children for the purposes of this review, aged six and nine, and while I think the six-year-old is at the top end of the age range, both enjoyed it, particularly as the books work at several levels. Six being slightly too old is perhaps a good thing – under-fives are particularly at risk of being injured in home accidents, according to RoSPA, with falls accounting for the majority of non-fatal accidents and threats to breathing such as suffocation, strangulation and choking causing the highest number of deaths. Younger children have a higher percentage of burns and scalds as well as poisoning and ingestion accidents, and the books stress the dangers of the latter. The most serious accidents happen in the kitchen and on the stairs, with 67,000 children having an accident in the kitchen, the majority aged between birth and four.
Enough of the dangers, what about the books? As far as production goes they’re sturdy and well made. Hari’s World seems to be a bit of a cottage industry but money has been spent on quality. Each book (we’ve got two but there are four) is 32 pages long and in full colour.
Each tells a story that parents can read to their children, or kids can read for themselves.
The books operate at two levels, a straightforward story and a quiz for older children, or for parents to talk to their kids about.
For example, in Oops Hari!, the eponymous elephant wants to go on a bike ride and, like any sensible elephant looks for his helmet (which is on his head all along, ho ho ho). He leans back on a chair and falls over, runs on the stairs and trips, and runs into the road, gets startled by a car and hits a lamppost – he’s got his helmet on so he’s never hurt and there are some big safety messages for kids.
But then certain pages have added dangers – hot pans and kettles, bleach in a cupboard, slug pellets, medicines – that kids can either try and spot, or parents can point out when they feel their children are old enough not to go and munch on slug pellets to see if mummy or daddy is telling the truth.
As well Hari, there are characters including Hari’s friend Moe, as well as Sting the Wasp, Pinch the Crab and Peck the Seagull, although the dog is Max and not Bite. There are hand and finger puppets and activity boards as well as the books.
Find out more at harisworld.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ideal for parents but nurseries and pre-schools might find the material useful, too.