Usborne Books, £4.99, ISBN 978-1-4095-8329-5
Puzzle Gamebook, 2015
Sticker Puzzle Mountain is a “sticker-ed” out revision of Puzzle Mountain – you can now stick things next to the objects you are asked to look for instead of just mentally ticking off the objects. The stickers are pretty sturdy and hardy, so they can be reused, giving this thing a bit more replay value than if you had, say, used a pencil on the pages. This one is clearly meant for very, very, very young kids though, as while Brenda Haw’s illustrations are especially gorgeous here, the story itself makes zero sense whatsoever to anyone over the age of seven.
This time, you will be assisting Poppy Pickax, a young lady who takes part in a race to the top of Puzzle Mountain. The prize is a chance to take a photo of the very rare Yodel flower. You’d think the race will be challenging and dangerous, but as you will soon find out, Puzzle Mountain is basically a huge ski paradise infested with people, so it’s very hard to imagine that the Yodel flower is so hidden that very few people have ever seen it. Worse, you will soon learn that the top of the mountain is the home of a family of blue-skinned “guardians” whose existence is secret. They live at the top of a mountain that is visited by people day in and out, and the path to the top of the mountain is indicated clearly like any decent tourist attraction. How on earth has nobody discovered the existence of these guardians, if they at the same time know that the Yodel flower grows up there?
And then, Poppy’s rival Basil is up to no good because he wants to reach the top of the mountain first and steal the flower. Why would he choose a day when people will be running to the mountain top to steal the flower? Why not do it when there is less traffic to the mountain top?
Furthermore, the “dangerous” race sees Poppy pausing to help various people along the way, like figuring out which ski lift they should take or searching for missing goats. The puzzles mostly skew towards looking for things scattered in a picture spread, with the occasional mathematical or analytical puzzle thrown in – all of them clearly geared towards very, very young kids.
While all this may be fun, the whole thing also pushes a bizarre message – actually racing in a race is somehow not a nice thing to do; it’s far better to stop and help people because you will somehow come in first anyway for being such a good person. What kind of message is this? Yes, life isn’t fair and someone has to sit at the back of the short bus at the end of the day, but let’s not tell kids to dash to those seats, shall we?
Sticker Puzzle Mountain is easily the least interesting entry into this series. You may want to get it if you are a collector, but there are far better titles in this series if you are looking for even a little bit of fun and challenge.