Usborne Books, £4.99, ISBN 978-1-4095-8331-8
Puzzle Gamebook, 2014
Previously published as Puzzle Ocean, Sticker Puzzle Ocean is a revised edition. Mostly the same content and artwork, but with stickers – 110 of them! – so that you can now stick things on the page instead of merely solving things in your head. This one is pretty formulaic as far as an entry in the line goes, but its eye-rolling so-called story is even more ridiculous than usual.
You will be assisting a young girl named Rosie as she in turns tries to assist her mermaid friend Milly in recovering the king’s crown. You see, the criteria to select the King of Puzzle Ocean is, simply, the guy who has the golden crown for a day or more gets to be it. A naughty merman, Jasper has stolen the crown. Despite the fact that they all know where his house is and that he is heading there, instead of the two ladies waiting there for him, they decide to chase after him the old-fashioned “he runs, we track him” manner. There is plenty of time, despite the supposed urgency of needing to catch him before 24 hours is up, to go on detour missions which almost always involves looking for things on the spread and pasting some stickers next to these things.
Two little girls sent to recover the crown? Why? Why does Milly claim that she needs “human help” when she first needs to create magical means for Rosie to breathe underwater, thus making the need of human help tad more bothersome than if she had, say, got a dolphin’s help or if the current crown-less King sends his personal army of grown-up soldiers to track down Jasper.
Oh, and sharks love to eat merpeople, but they love to eat seaweed sandwich even more. How did they even develop a taste of sandwiches in the first place? Do they grow sandwiches down there?
But hey, this one is for very young kids, so I guess the completely nonsensical “story” is… okay? The illustrations by Brenda Haw are especially lovely here, capturing the whole fairy-tale undersea kingdom vibe perfectly. A bit more color would be nice, but I suppose that will only make production most costly. Sticker Puzzle Ocean is especially non-challenging for older kids or adults as it focuses heavily on “find the hidden objects” kind of activity. There are some “get out of the maze” and “spot the difference” types of puzzles here, but in far fewer numbers compared to other entries in this line.
Fans of hidden object hunts may like this one, but people looking for a more balanced kind of challenge may find this one more pretty than interesting.