Puzzles and More

Nature Activity Book
Alain Grée
Button Books

The natural world is Alain Grée’s theme for his latest activity book suitable for those from about 5. There’s also a seasonal element: the things to do relate to spring, summer, autumn and winter.

With mazes, dot-to-dots, spot the difference, jokes, scrambled word puzzles, things to count and match, simple maths, things to colour, life cycles and more, there are hours of fun learning to be had from this compilation. Another thing – most little ones love using stickers and there are 4 pages of them included that are part and parcel of some of the activities.

There’s fun learning aplenty here. If you can’t get outdoors into the real natural world on these dark days then try this in the meantime.

For slightly older users are these two:

Jumbo Pad of Word Puzzles
Highlights

Youngsters from around 6/7 can have lots of fun and exercise their brains with the 120 plus puzzles in this bumper pad.

Contained therein are crosswords, codes, word searches, hidden words to discover, riddle Sudoku and mixed-up hidden pictures. Answers to all the puzzles are supplied on the back of the pages, which, with the pad’s tablet format, are easily removed.

Guaranteed hours of screen free fun from this and not just for the owner: family and friends can join in the puzzling too.

Word Search Puzzles for Your Backpack
Eric Berlin
Sterling

From camping to crafts, and summer time to sweet things, there’s a word search and more to suit the interest of any young reader among the 58 included in New York Times crossword compiler, Eric Berlin’s new puzzle book.
Some of the puzzles aren’t entirely straightforward however: the compiler has thrown in what he calls some ‘curve balls’ such as ‘Opposite Day’ where the words to find are the opposites of those given in the list below the puzzle.
That’s not all though: for every search there’s a hidden message related to its theme that is made from the letters not circled.
There’s some pretty funky stuff between the covers of this little book. It’s just right for tucking into your bag or snuggling under a blanket on the sofa with – with your favourite hot drink and of course, a pencil to hand.

A Handful of Activity Books

My RSPB Sticker Activity Book: Seaside
Stephanie Fizer Coleman
Walker Books

If you pay a visit to the seaside, no matter where you look there are fascinating flora and fauna to discover, be that in rock pools, in the grassy dunes that are a-buzz with insects, down on the shore, beneath the ocean waves or on the cliffs where seabirds nest. If you look in the shallows you might spy a seahorse or perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to spot a seal resting on a rock or a dolphin leaping from the waves.

All these and more are part and parcel of this activity book that includes items to colour, dot-to-dots, things to spot, matching, drawing and several pages for adding stickers to. Stephanie Fizer Coleman has created ten inviting, textured scenes for little ones to adorn as well as the four central pages of colourful stickers.

Before heading for the coast with a young child, this would make a worthwhile, enjoyable book to introduce some of the things they might look out for.

My First Amazing Animal Mazes
Various illustrators
Highlights

For the youngest of puzzlers, this book contains over 35 mazes with such diverse settings as a farm, a bamboo forest, an ocean and a safari waterhole. There are different kinds of mazes including one composed of letters called Jellyfish Jumble; another is a downhill slalom. There are also string mazes, pattern mazes and traditional mazes to keep your little ones engaged at odd moments or times when they can’t venture outside, or need something to quieten them down.

A greater variety of puzzles is to be found in

Jumbo Pad of Picture Puzzles
Various illustrators
Highlights

This one will keep young puzzlers busy for a fair few hours as they use their hands, eyes and mind to spot differences, locate objects hidden in scenes such as a gymnasium populated by cats and a park full of children playing, search for matching pairs, engage in word puzzles, try memory challenges, choose missing puzzle pieces, solve mazes and more.
The large variety of illustrative styles and things to do should guarantee boredom doesn’t set in; and just in case youngsters are unable to solve a puzzle, all the solutions are provided.
A boon on a dull day as is …

Ultimate Puzzle Challenge!
Highlights

This one is bursting with word searches, codes to solve, Sudoku, busy scenes with items hiding in plain sight to locate, a plethora of word puzzles such as rhyming pairs, spiral word puzzles, crisscrosses, logic puzzles, find the differences, tricky mazes and more.
If this large book of 125+ puzzles doesn’t engage and absorb young puzzlers, then they don’t deserve to call themselves such.

So, pencils ready, set, puzzle …

Where’s My Jumper? / You Nest Here With Me / Let’s Count Vehicles / ABC Town

Where’s My Jumper?
Nicola Slater
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Meet Rudy: he’s lost his jumper – a pink one and a tad on the short side, but his favourite nonetheless.
The adorable little creature has searched everywhere, upstairs and downstairs, indoors and outdoors and round about. He’s looked in the bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, even underground. Where can it be? In his search he encounters a host of quirky creatures – tumbling cats, jiving llamas, prima pigerinas, ski-dogs, soapy blackbirds, jibber-jabbering sea creatures, muttering mice, three crocs,

and passing foxes but of his missing garment there is no sign.

Will your little ones find Rudy’s jumper before the end of the story.

With its die-cuts pages, flaps and lots of funky animals to count, it’s terrific fun and delivered through an enormously engaging text and equally frolicsome, bright, bold illustrations.

Hours of pleasure guaranteed with this sturdy board book that is bound to be read over and over …

You Nest Here With Me
Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple and Melissa Sweet
Boyds Mills Press

Making use of real scientific facts in the form of a narrative rhyming text, a mother and daughter team, Jane and Heidi, have written a delightful board book to share with your little ones at bedtime.

A human mother nestles her sleepy little daughter in for the night and then goes on to share with her the many ways birds bed down to sleep.
‘ … Terns all nest in colonies / Upon high cliffs, above rough seas. // But you nest here with me. // Some owls nest on oak tree boles, / Some down in abandoned holes, … ‘

Lilting and loving, the mother’s words are very easy on the ear, informing gently while helping to induce a safe soporific effect for the listener through the repeated use of ‘But you nest here with me.’

Working beautifully in tandem with the text are Melissa Sweet’s mixed media, gouache and watercolour illustrations executed predominantly in soft hues of green and blue.

As it originated in the USA, the names of some birds will be unfamiliar to UK readers but I’d still recommend this to share with the very young both at bedtime and as an introduction to birds and their nests and other elements of the natural world, at any time – perhaps before a nap or a snuggle together.

Let’s Count Vehicles
illustrated by Josh Cleland
ABC Town
illustrated by Tamara Petrosino
Highlights

There’s plenty to interest pre-schoolers in these two ‘Hidden Pictures’ titles both of which have gatefold flaps beneath which are large busy illustrations of scenes within which spotters have to locate the items pictured on the outsides of the flaps as well as those mentioned in the question, for example ‘Can you find 9 trains and 10 cars?’

The various locations, which include in the counting book, a funfair in the park; urban sights, a building site and a harbour, are populated by anthropomorphic animals.

So too are the town scenes in the ABC, which depict shops of all kinds – including I’m happy to say, a bookshop; a hospital, garden centre and fire station. A library and museum and a karate centre dominate a double spread; there’s an urban park square complete with bathing pool; and a railway line traverses another spread.

Engaging, fun and educative too, both these sturdy board books are great for developing vocabulary and visual skills in addition to the mathematical and alphabetic elements of the titles.