Book Review: LEGO Friends – The Adventure Guide

RRP $24.99
Available at most retailers

I am going to start this review with a confession – I know very little about LEGO Friends. I am a 29 year old man with no children. Currently the only children I spend time with are my two nephews who love Ninja Turtles and Superheroes . Of course this site covers LEGO Friends products in our regular sales coverage, and I know about the initial controversy that came with the launch, but beyond that my knowledge is limited.

With that in mind, this review is going to be a little different than one you might read from a hardcore LEGO Friends fan. This book is my introduction to the world of Heartlake City. Will it make me a lifelong Friends fan?

My Introduction To Heartlake City

Firstly, this is a DK book so it pretty much goes without saying that the design quality is impeccable – the photography is outstanding and the pages are laid out beautifully. The way the book is set out should be approachable to young readers, without being off-putting to parents who happen to be reading it.

The book opens up with a nice contents page. It breaks down the book by character or subject; this will make it easier for the reader to come back to particular section that they found interesting.

Next we have the introduction to the world of LEGO Friends. This introduces the characters and outlines what seems to be the core concept of the Friends line – Friendship, Individuality, Teamwork and Adventure.

I am not intentionally going through the book page by page, but the first few parts of the book are all worthy of mention by themselves. The third feature is a two page map of Heartlake City. The map really helps this feel like a real place. That’s something that you don’t really get from a lot of themes. The map is full of highlights that show where certain sets fit in the world. You can in theory work out where the bakery is in relation to the vet surgery.

Heartlake Map

Before we get in to the detail about each of the Friends, we get a quick quiz to determine which of them we are most like. All of the characters have a unique personality, with different interests and goals. The quiz makes them seem a little one-dimensional, but I think that is more an issue with the simplicity of the quiz than the actual characterisation. I’m Olivia for anybody interested.

Without spoiling the whole contents of the book, here is a brief look at each characters section.

I was interested to learn more about the character that I am most like. It turns out that Olivia is the tech wiz of the group. She has built robots and developed apps, as well as building a few things. “Inventor, Builder & App Developer” – that’s certainly an impressive resume for any young person.

The most style conscious one of the group. Emma is a news reporter for Heartlake High TV. Inspired by her interior designer father, Emma also has her own design studio.

The biggest animal lover of the group, Mia works at the Heartlake Vet and helps Dr Sophie look after the animals. She can also fly a helicopter.

Andrea is a superstar in the making. She also manages to work two jobs and find time to play sports.

The organised and driven one. Stephanie turned her passion into her own small business. She also has her pilots licence and temporarily ran a pizzeria.

The Other Citizens of Heartlake City

Of course, the main group of friends aren’t the only people in Heartlake City. This goes to what I mentioned earlier – Heartlake City feels like a real place. These are characters that in other themes would just be an unnamed minifigure.

In the Friends theme every character has a story of their own. A great example is Dr Sophie; she isn’t just a random vet, she happens to also be Olivia’s aunt. This extended characterisation may just be due to the LEGO Friends cartoon, but I still appreciated the way it expanded the world.

Dr Sophie Page

I also like that the parent characters don’t just exist as the parent of the characters. All of the mums have successful careers, as do the dads.

More Than Just Friendship

The LEGO Friends Adventure Guide does cover friendship – there are sections on being a good friend, and other bits and pieces spread throughout the book. I was slightly worried that this book was just going be page after page of “friendship”. There is actually so much more than that.

There is a big focus on animals throughout the book. As somebody who adopted a puppy just a few weeks ago I found that the puppy training tips were actually quite reasonable. There are also plenty of horses. The sections that I really enjoyed were the animal rescue stories.

There are also a few pages devoted to being fit and healthy. Encouraging kids to think about these things is great, and the focus is on finding an activity that you enjoy. It doesn’t assume that everybody likes the same things.

The reality that everybody is different is also present in the music part of the book – you’d expect that all of the core group would be in the band, but that stereotype is avoided here. Some people just aren’t musical, and that’s okay.

The Exclusive Minidoll

As my introduction to the Friends theme, the exclusive minidoll with this book also happens to be my first minidoll. When the Friends theme launched I was of course disappointed that LEGO wasn’t using the classic minifigure, but now that I actually have one in front of me – I can kind of see the appeal. Minidolls are actually pretty cute.

Kate Exclusive Minidoll B

The LEGO Friends Adventure Guide comes with a Kate minidoll with an exclusive outfit. Kate seems like a bit of a minor character, so I am not sure how popular her selection as the exclusive will be with more hardcore Friends fans. I would have liked it if there were two of the printed strawberry tiles.

Wrapping Up

When I opened up a mysterious package and saw that the book I was going to be reviewing was a LEGO Friends book, I was honestly a little disappointed. I am also willing to admit that I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and my introduction to the world of LEGO Friends.

With all the initial controversy I thought the Friends range was going to be shallow and full of young girl tropes. There are some stereotypical things in there like makeovers, but that seems to be the exception rather than the primary focus.

I honestly believe that the LEGO Friends characters are positive role models for anybody, not just young girls. While taking notes as I read the book, there was one thing that I wrote over and over; hard working. These young girls are all apparently high school aged, but have their own small business or work multiple jobs. Even with their early success they all seem to have aspirations for meaningful future careers. I think I’d be happy for a hypothetical future daughter of mine to want to be just like any one of the Friends characters.

LEGO Friends: The Adventure Guide is a fun and enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it for Friends fans as well as those looking for an introduction to the theme.

Bricking Around was sent a copy of LEGO Friends: The Adventure Guide to review by Penguin Australia.

1 thought on “Book Review: LEGO Friends – The Adventure Guide

  1. HandyCap Reply

    Nice review, TD… I can identify with you in being a 40ish divorced fellow with no kids, so this is a theme I never look at. Good to see that Lego are keeping up their standards across multiple themes. And… never owned a minidoll either, but the free one actually looks like my half-Maori 10-year old niece… 🙂 And, yes, DK produce top quality products, in my opinion.

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