“ Genre: Junior Books / Author: Susannah Leigh / Edition: Combined / Paperback / Reading Level: Ages 4-8 / 96 Pages / Book is published 2004-04 by Usborne Books „
Puzzle World is a fantastic book written for children aged between 4 and 8 ( but all my children enjoy reading and participating in it, and my eldest is 11). Puzzle World is actually three books combined into one. These are Puzzle Island, Puzzle Farm and Puzzle Town.
There are numerous other books in the Puzzle series, at least eighteen other titles, published by Usbourne. Puzzle World costs £7.99, slightly more than the single titles, but it is well worth the money.
Generally the Puzzle books start with the pages 'About this Story'. These two pages explain what the story is about and the main characters featuring in the story, usually some children solve the puzzle with you and are the heros. It also informs you of your challenge plus things you need to find on every double page. On the journey through the book you have objects to point out which will help your character on his/hers journey. At this point my boys have to take it in turns to find the objects, otherwise it gets into a battle. But thankfully there are plenty of other things to find, so arguments are put at bay!
The basic layout of each story, follows a similar format. The young heros sets out on his/hers adventure, whether it is to find treasure, organize a party set up fair, as examples. The stories develop and have a puzzle to solve on each double page. You could be matching, spotting the difference, finding a way through the maze or other exciting things to help the adventure.
If the puzzles are just too hard to find, low and behold there are answers, which are graphically illustrated, at the back of each book. To be honest, I have had to peek on some occasions, as I just could not find the object, or solve the puzzle.
All the books are written by Susannah Leigh and Illustrated by Brenda Haw. The characters all have a similar feel about them. The pages are very busy, which is intentional, so it makes finding clues a little harder. The pages are full of colour, and there are lots of silly pictures, which make my children chuckle.
The three stories inside Puzzle World are: Puzzle Island, Puzzle Town and Puzzle Farm.
Puzzle Island is about a young pirate, Sam, and Swashbuckle his parrot. He is only a junior pirate and needs to become a real pirate. To do this he has to set sail to Puzzle Island to find a skull and crossbone badge, which is hidden in a chest full of treasure. Horatio is a sneaky pirate who is trying to beat Sam to the treasure. An exciting adventure, with fun challenging puzzles!
Puzzle Town features Tim and Katy. They are going to a fancy dress party but do not know where it is being held. The clues add up to where the party is. This story is full of weird and wonderful characters, which keeps the children actively involved throughout.
Puzzle Farm involves Beth and Harry. They have been left in charge of Puzzle Farm and need to organise the farm fair. This story would be more suitable to the younger age (4) as there are lots of matching skills to do.
I have the whole collection of Puzzle books. My children really enjoy them. Not only are they being stimulated through reading, but also by solving the puzzles, there are many skills involved. They are fun and educational. They do take a long time to complete, around 30 minutes, so make sure you are somewhere comfy to enjoy the adventure!
Puzzle world is a combined volume of the Usborne Young Puzzle series. This book is available from the Usborne website at £7.99 and includes three complete books "Puzzle Island", "Puzzle Town" and "Puzzle Farm". This is the first of the series that we bought (actually for about 20p from a school fair) but we have gone on to buy other books in the series. There about 20 different titles in all from Puzzle School to Puzzle Palace, aimed at children from about 4-8. With such a variety of titles there is sure to be something to please every child and their interests, be that trains, pirates or princesses.
The books are puzzle stories. In each one you follow the progress of a main character or characters on an adventure and have to solve puzzles and spot things on the way. Puzzle Island is about a young pirate called Sam who is looking for treasure, Puzzle Town follows Katy and Tim on their quest to get to a party, whilst Puzzle farm is about two young protagonists in charge of the farm for the day.
If this all sounds very formulaic it is because it is; each book follows the same sort of pattern, as do the others in the series, which is actually a good thing for this age group as they enjoy the repetitive nature and structure of these books.
My five year old has loved these books from day one. She has been enjoying being read them for about a year now, and as she starts to read more comfortably will be able to read them herself and enjoy them. The layout of each book is as follows:
The characters are introduced and you are presented with a list and visula picutures of things to spot in the rest of the book, so in Pirate Island you have to find all the pirate kit but also (randomly) pink elephants. In each book my daughter enjoys spotting the items on the page and we talk about the items together.
Main part of the book and puzzles:
Each book has about 12-13 double pages with the story and puzzles, this volume has 96 pages in all.
Each page shows a part of the story with beautifully crafted illustrations showing lots of characters doing different things, the detail is amazing and a child can enjoy just looking at the pictures. The puzzles themselves are of the "spot something", "spot the difference" "find your way through the maze" or find the exact/person or animal which is being described variety. They are quite challenging for a four year old but not too difficult and quite fun to solve together. There is quite a lot of humour to enjoy in the illustrations, which are cartoon style. Puzzle town is particularly good - a strange world with characters doing strange things is depicted with motorbike riding chickens and the Loch Ness monster in the town pond. All in all good fun and lots of prompts for talking together. Though not directly learning books they do foster skills such as observation and looking at maps that will be helpful for school, all whilst having fun.
At the end of each book, and in this volume at the end of each section of the book, is an answer page. This can be quite useful when you can't spot that hidden sock or difference between 2 animals, though I do have to stop my daughter from turning straight to that page!
I would highly recommend this book, and the complete series, as great presents or for you to enjoy with your child from 4-7ish. There is a seperate series for older children. The books can be enjoyed together or by the child alone and I think they are excellent as providing good quality stimulation and opportunity for interaction. My daughter loves these books and will beg to look at them at bedtime and when we are out somewhere where she needs to keep a bit quiet (eg a restaurant or waiting room), they are always her first choice to put in her bag.
The stories will keep your child entertained and Brenda Haw's illustrations are just amazing. This book is good fun!
Usborne Puzzle World ISBN 0-7460-0731-0
Author: Susannah Leigh
More details: http://www.usbornebooksathome.co.uk