At first I struggled with this theme, as I’ve always been a reader so there is no particular book that ‘hooked’ me, but when I was young, a book I read over and over was a ‘Me Book’ – one where my name, and some other details, were typed in spaces of a generic story. Mine was The Great Sesame Street ABC Hunt, and I still have it thirty-something years later.
You can still get a variety of character books with personalisations, but they’re mainly not great stories, and the personalisations seem a bit forced. However, Lost My Name has a different approach, and I think it’s just right.
The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, or The Little Boy Who Lost His Name (Lost My Name, on demand)
I first became aware of these books via a friend who was working for a font design company, and therefore had a deep interest in words. So when I was offered the chance to review, I already had experience of the website and the books available, and I definitely wanted to try them out.
The premise of the book is that a child has woken up and their name has been stolen. The book takes the form of a wandering quest, with each letter of a child’s name given a two page spread where they meet a creature starting with that letter and collect the letter from the creature. At the end, all the letters are put together and it’s your name. How exciting!
The website is very easy to navigate, and the fact you can preview your whole book in advance is a huge advantage to me. Being the personality that I am, I’ve played with the website to see what combinations you can use.
You can use names with between three and twelve characters. If you have a name with only three or four characters, an extra double page spread of wandering is added, to make the book longer. A very nice touch.
Another nice touch is that the website accepts hyphens! As someone with a hyphenated first name, I live with the frustration of being known as ‘Anne’ or ‘Annemarie’ on some computer systems. They’re not my name. But all hyphenated children everywhere can rejoice with Lost My Name! The hyphen is not counted as one of the twelve character limit, and doesn’t appear in the story, but it’s used when the full name appears.
The combinations allowed (every letter of the alphabet once, with A and E twice, and up to three additional duplicate letters) mean that most names are covered. For example, with my name ANNE-MARIE, there are two As, two Ns, and two Es. The second A and E have their own creatures, and the second N has a generic double page. It is possible to come up with a plausible contrived name that doesn’t work, but it’s unlikely that your child’s name won’t work.
After ordering, the book(s) chosen are printed on demand and arrive within a few days. I was really impressed with the speed of delivery, and the books were packaged well so as not to be damaged in the post. I can’t stress highly enough how excellent the quality of these books are. They are gorgeous, thick quality pages and excellent binding. A friend remarked how they didn’t look ‘on demand’ printed as they were so well made.
As someone who is anti gender stereotyping, I usually get annoyed when gender is requested, but in the case of Lost My Name, the only difference in the books is the use of his/her, the girl/boy images are different, as are the cover colours. However, girls get Robots and Dragons (if their name has an R or a D), and boys get Mermaids and Princesses (if their name has an M or a P), with no ‘girl’ letters or ‘boy’ letters in sight. I also like how the boy/girl characters skin could be seen to match a variety of skin shades. Five stars for lack of stereotyping.
My daughters absolutely love their books, and it was wonderful watching Danger Girl (5) work out that the letters were her name when we read the story the first time. It’s been often requested for bedtime (as “The Girl Who Lost Her Gnome” sometimes!) and who knows, maybe in 30+ years these will still be treasured possessions too.
At £18.99 per book, including postage, and with discounts for multiple purchases, these books make wonderful gifts (new baby, Christening, first birthday, first Christmas, starting school, just because) and are worth every penny. This is a very clever concept, and highly recommended by the Chaos household.
Disclosure: The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name books received for review from Lost My Name.