Agent Arthur’s Puzzle Adventures

After writing an article on the benefits of puzzle books, I thought I’d write a review on my first puzzle book. So far I’ve ordered five of them, as a little treat for myself (I only wish they did ones for adults too :P), and will slowly review them all (very slowly, at the moment due to the stifling summer heat).

The first one is aimed at 10-12 year olds and called Agent Arthur’s Puzzle Adventure. It is at the higher end of difficulty, with challenging puzzles (even for some adults). Here are five things I noticed about the book after reading it, and how they can affect the children reading them.

1. The adventures

In this book Agent Arthur has 3 different adventures (which, if you wanted, can be bought as 3 separate books). There is Agent Arthur’s Jungle Journey, an epic intrepid adventure through the jungle. On The Stormy Seas, a mystery involving a ghost ship. And an Arctic Adventure, a rescue mission in the chilling Arctic (surprise!).

What I love is that each adventure has it’s own unique, destination specific, puzzles. So you’re not just doing the same types of puzzles just in different settings. In the jungle there’s a lot of map reading, whereas The Stormy Seas talks about the speed of boats and hurricanes.

This diversity means when children read them, they aren’t just developing problem solving skills, but also knowledge about the real world. Things like compasses and skidoos are introduced. As well as vocabulary like “groggily”, “marooned”, and “marine”. All of which broadens your child’s mind as they learn.

2. The Real World Puzzles

Some of the puzzles require you to use what you know about the world in order to figure things out. I really like this as it is more applicable to real life. Some of the puzzles require thoughts about safety. Other puzzles compare things you would find in the modern day. These things not only require abstract problem-solving skills but real world problem-solving skills too.

3. The Attention to detail

And it’s not just about problem solving. A lot of the puzzles rely on you to notice slight differences in the illustrations, and they are very clever. Some are obvious, while others you have to really concentrate to spot. This develops children’s attention to detail, which can be a fantastic skill to have. It is useful for exams where you need carefully check exam questions. As well as vocational skills outside schools. Lawyers, writers and scientists (to name but a few) all benefit from having good attention to detail.


4. The Comic Book Style Illustrations

I really like how the pictures tell the story, and that you really need to look at them in order to understand the story. This is great if you are reading with your child as they can spot the story in the pictures. As well as this, they can spot the details needed to solve the puzzles. This gives them a great confidence boost, and keeps them engaged throughout the book. Great for children who find it difficult to concentrate.

5. The variety of puzzles

There are codes you need to translate, routes to navigate across, and clues to find. Of the three stories Agent Arthur’s Arctic Adventure has the most diverse range of puzzles. Such adventures include navigating over treacherous routes and decoding secret messages. There were quite a few I needed tips to solve or couldn’t even decode at all (the password to get into the secret base was very clever). However, there are plenty of simple puzzles too.

This variety means children can develop their problem-solving skills with the ones they find challenging. While also improving their confidence as they solve the easier ones. It’s a win-win!

I really enjoy these books, even as an adult. They’re great intellectual stimulation, easy to read, and really interesting. And what’s fantastic is that they’re accessible to so many different children. While strong readers develop their problem solving skills, weaker readers can be read the story, then gain confidence by doing the puzzles.

As this is a more challenging book, the next book I’m going to review is one for younger readers. So keep a look out! And keeeep reading! 🙂

Additional Reading
  • Let your children make their own puzzles which they can give to you, their siblings and/or family friends to solve. It’ll help them learn puzzle making skills and give them great creative development.
  • You could even create one specifically for your child, containing a mix of puzzles they can do, and some that they can’t

Puzzle books – why you’ll love them

Sorry we haven’t written much recently. There’s been a few things going on which has made focusing on Mrs ABC a little bit harder. Still, now that things have settled, it’s time to come back! And I’m going to start with one of my favourite types of books. Puzzle books! I’ve been wanting to write about these for a while, as they can be good in so many ways (and for many different children). So let me start by explaining what they are.

Puzzle books are stories which, as you can imagine, contain a puzzles. Mazes, Spot the difference, and “Where’s Wally” type games that all add to the story. They’re sort of like video games but in book form. You can read the story without doing the puzzles, and it will still make sense. However the real joy and wonder about these books is being a part of them. Every time you solve a puzzle you get to feel like you are with the character. So here are my top 5 reasons why you’ll love them too!

illustration of a brain with lots of bright colours, red, green, blue and yellow, splashed on it

1 Puzzles engage the brain

Puzzles can be key for child development. By doing a puzzle you develop problem solving skills, which you can use in other areas of life. As well as developing strategies for solving them, your memory adapts as it tries to hold onto various bit of information. These skills are the same used for solving maths or science problems. So if your child wants to be a mathematician, engineer or astronaut this is a great place to start.

These puzzles don’t just develop cognitive skills, but also emotional skills like patience, which are just as important. They also help raise your child’s self-esteem, due to the satisfaction and accomplishment of solving a problem. There really is no downside of doing puzzles.

photograph of tasty chocolate cakes with sprinkles of little pink hearts on top

2 The imaginative, adventurous settings

These books are set in so many wonderful locations! I love the book about Chocolate Island (the whole island made of chocolate! Sounds like heaven to me…) but there are ones set in the real world too. There’s a few set in the jungle, some on trains, and even some with dinosaurs! Whatever your child is into I’m sure there’ll be at least one story they’ll like the look of.

Having stories in lots of different settings not only makes them accessible to different children, they also make children aware of the different places on Earth. The puzzles in the Arctic are different to those in the Jungle, but both can be solved using the same techniques. This way your child learns that the skills they have can be used in different situations, helping them develop a growth mindset (look out for an article on the growth mindset coming soon).

photograph of a small child reading a book surrounded by sparkles and light

3 Great for children who struggle with reading

Children who find words difficult often find these books much easier. They can do the puzzles and get that warm feel-good feeling when they complete them. This helps them build their confidence with books, allowing them to transition to other books more easily. Although these books may not have as many words as some others, they can be still be great for your child’s development. So if your child only feels comfortable with these books, that’s fine. They’ll get to more complex books when they’re ready. For more tips on helping your child read have a look at our article What you can do when your child is having difficulties reading.

photograph of 2 boys and a girl lying on some grass, reading books

4 Suitable for all ages, genders and interests

What I find great about these books is that there are ones suitable for 4 year olds up to ones for 12 year olds. And even now, I still find the puzzles engaging. And these puzzles are not solely aimed at boys. There is such a wide array of stories that most children would be happy with at least one, whether they’re into mermaids, dragons or trains.

photograph of a grandmother reading to her two grandchildren

5 Great for family time

Although these books are great to be read individually some of the problems may get your child asking for you assistance. And that’s great! Reading books, or doing the puzzles in them, is a great time to bond together. It’s a great chance for them to learn from you, and to spend quality time together. These books are great for that. So prepare your skills in finding binoculars in the jungles, and finding the safest path across the sea.

Most of the puzzle books I’ve found are published by Usborne, and there are so many to choose from! So, as I love these books a lot, prepare to see a few reviews on these. Happy Puzzling 🙂