* Prices may differ from that shown
The 'Horrible' series of books published by Scholastic have been popular for many years now, with educational material presented to children in a novel and often gruesome way, with the historical titles such as the Terrible Tudors and Rotten Romans probably being some of the best well known. We also have a number of books in the science range including 'Ugly Bugs'. My youngest daughter has always had a fascination with bugs of any shape and description and is often found out in the garden with a tub full of grass and a collection of worms, lady birds, snails or whatever she's on the lookout for on that day. When we spotted the Horrible Science 'Ugly Bugs' jigsaw puzzle in a National Trust shop a few years ago it seemed that it would be the perfect present for her.
The puzzle has 300 pieces and although it does not recommend an age range I would recommend this and other puzzles in the 'Horrible' series for ages 7 -10. We found that it made an ideal transition between completing children's jigsaws which are small and tend to be done over and over again as they take such a short amount of time to complete, to a more adult approach of having a puzzle on the go and completing it over a few days. The pieces are larger than those in a true adult puzzle measuring approximately 3cm square, but are packed with detail so that the child can more easily work out where they belong in the overall picture. As an adult it has just taken me ¾ of an hour to complete this, so for a child it provides a good challenge.
I love the picture on this puzzle which is illustrated on the top of the box, as you would expect. It's a puzzle of two halves with a bright cheerful above ground section with common insects that we all recognise such as ladybirds, a butterfly, stick insect and caterpillar, set in a background of a fence, grass and vegetation. Down at the bottom though things turn decidedly darker with ants busy laying eggs and a mole is just about to devour the worm he has caught. There are even a few interesting bits of treasure lurking down there as well as a bright red coke can that brightens things up, and also demonstrates that litter has formed a habitat for underground creepy crawlies. There really are loads of bugs going about their daily tasks, as they would in the real world, although maybe we wouldn't find dung beetles parked just so close to leaf eaters or stag beetles in our own back yards. There's plenty of action to look out for and lots to talk about.
The puzzle is not frightening at all as it is presented in a cartoon like way and the creatures all look friendly. Speech bubbles are liberally scattered over the puzzle with jokes or funny captions printed on them, such as the two snails saying to each other 'What took you so long' and in reply 'I was going at a snail's pace' and the worm who is about to be ingested yelling 'mummy' as mole utters 'yummy'.
As well as all of these familiar bugs there are many that I would have been unable to identify or only in a very generic way. The real educational component of this puzzle can then be used, as an eight page 'loony leaflet' comes with the puzzle.
**The Loony Leaflet**
This is a thin paper leaflet that folds out into two flat sides of paper and is monochrome with dark green print on a white background. The booklet is introduced by 'Will D Beest', the intrepid explorer, who also features on the outside of the box, encouraging children to 'Get a buzz out of this puzzle'. On the first page he encourages children to look in any dark and creepy corner as bugs are never far away and then goes on to tell them some factual information about insects such as the three component parts of their bodies and when a bug is and isn't an insect. Pages two and three have line drawings of some of the bugs who feature in the puzzle with useful information about them. As an adult I learned a lot too from this. Did you know that an assassin bug sneaks up on termites which are its prey, with termite poo piled on its back to disguise itself as a pile of poo - well neither did I! It's great to study the puzzle picture with a child and read the facts as the information always includes the gory bits that children will love and remember.
Page 5 and 6 give some cultural examples and introduce terminology such as 'Entomologist' by telling the story of a lady who published a book of insect drawings in 1705 after travelling over the world studying them. A multiple choice quiz is also included, although the answers aren't hidden far away so it may be good for parents to read the questions out rather than the child reading them and finally there are some teasers for children to take back to school and quiz their teacher with. This is a great little educational resource for parents to use with the puzzle, but you could also buy the 'Ugly Bugs' book to go with it too.
The completed size of the puzzle is 47 x 67cm so fairly big due to the large pieces, but at least it's not as big as the floor puzzles you will have been used to them doing when they were toddlers. I would recommend completing this on a table or puzzle board though as the pieces are small and need a firm base to support them, and they probably will need to be left out for a while. The box measure 38 x 33 x 5cm so is going to take up quite a bit of space in the cupboard. It's a bright yellow box with the logo 'Science with the squishy bits in pieces' and on the back children are asked if they are 'itching to, spot some creepy crawlies, tackle the blood thirsty quiz or try some tortuous teasers on your teachers'. Symbols indicate that the puzzle is made in China and is recyclable. It has the lion mark stating that it conforms to B.S. 5665 and is not suitable for 0 - 3 year olds, as obviously the pieces are small.
My daughter had this puzzle when she was about 8 or 9. She was really pleased with it when first given it as she had already enjoyed doing another puzzle in the series, so knew it would be fun to do with lots of bright colours and things to look for. These were the first puzzles where we taught her to search for all of the edge pieces and then compile the insides by looking for specific pieces, such as all of the bits with pink wriggly worms, or all of the fence pieces. She had been used to completing her older puzzles very quickly and wasn't brilliant at sustaining her attention for these, but she was ready to progress and had watched me doing puzzles as I always have one out on a board, so she did manage to complete the end result. This puzzle hasn't had as much use as those ones for younger children; she enjoyed it at the time, but much as I only want to do a 1000 piece puzzle once and then move onto a different challenge, so the same applied to this. I would therefore recommend maybe buying second hand or swapping with friends as otherwise they may not get masses of use from it.
The booklet was something that we used together, but judging by how pristine it still looks, she didn't use it any more on her own. I would thoroughly recommend this though and think they are a great addition to the collection for children who enjoy the 'Horrible' books and give them 4 stars. They are listed online e.g. Lamb Toys for £7.99 and recently on Ebay for £1.99, although it does seem to have disappeared from amazon listings recently, so it may be worth looking on independent toy shop sites or for a second hand version. A jigsaw book version is also available as well as other puzzles in the series, such as the Rotten Romans that I would also recommend.
Ugly Bugs Jigsaw from Horrible Science features 300 pieces. This 300 piece childrens jigsaw puzzle is based on the best selling Horrible Science books. Featuring Horrible scenes of the world's most antisocial bugs and dangerous animals. The cool puzzle comes with an 8 page Loony Leaflet stuffed full of facts. Horrible Science Ugly Bugs Jigsaw is a fun way to encourage problem solving.