Usborne Books, £4.99, ISBN 978-1-4095-7780-5
Puzzle Gamebook, 2014
Sticker Puzzle Palace is actually a repurposed and reissued edition of Usborne Books’s Puzzle Palace. This time, they have 160 stickers (some of which are extras as you know how people with fat fingers can be sometimes) which you can use to stick next to the things you have located or figured out in this puzzle gamebook.
Basically, you will be helping Princess Posy who wants to throw a fabulous Masked Ball at her Puzzle Palace. Unfortunately, her invitation to Daisy the fairy never reaches the intended recipient, so Daisy in anger casts a spell that throws all party preparations into chaos. It is up to you to help the Princess and her BFF, Jake the pixie, sort everything out in time for the best party ever to begin. Now, Daisy lives in the highest tower in the palace, so you may be wondering why these people need to send the invitation out to her by post instead of just flying up to that tower and present the invitation personally. Well, keep wondering, because clearly, kiddies aren’t expecting to think that much when playing this one!
The illustrations by Brenda Haw are just adorable, and every page spread makes up one lovely panoramic puzzle. The puzzles are of the usual “spot the items” or “find your way out of the maze” types with the occasional very simple problem solving or deduction types. The intended readers of this one clearly are of the young-ish sort, but if you are adult, this one may still be an amusing diversion to keep the hands busy on a lazy afternoon. There are also four sets of various hidden objects to look out for in every spread (for added difficulty, don’t look at the answers page to find out what you’re supposed to be looking for in each spread) on top of the designated activity of each spread. A lot of things to do, although for adults, the puzzle-solving elements would be simple enough. The trickiest part would be looking for specific items that are drawn in tiny dimensions – items on pages 12 and 13, especially, as they are all so freaking small.
The stickers are surprisingly sturdy – I deliberately peeled out some of them and stuck them back on again, only to find that they still stick perfectly well with no curling up action. There are enough extras to go around. The only issue here is that it is almost painful to stick things on Brenda Haw’s lovely illustrations, as it’s like drawing graffiti on something nice. The stickers often obscure details when pasted, and that’s a shame. Also, be careful when tearing out the sticker pages, as the perforated lines are not that easy to tear – use too much force and you may end up tearing out the entire page and possibly messing up the binding.
Anyway, Sticker Puzzle Palace isn’t fantastically awesome, and to be honest, the “story” is pretty silly. But it’s for kids, and it is very prettily made, so with the right expectations and mindset, this one may just be a fun way to kill some time.