Usborne Books, £4.99, ISBN 978-1-4085-7782-9
Puzzle Gamebook, 2014
Previously published as Puzzle Planet, Sticker Puzzle Planet is a revised version. Same content, but with some minor adjustments to improve its interactivity via the addition of stickers. Instead of just passively solving the puzzles on each page spread, you will have the option of peeling the appropriate sticker next to the items in the illustration that are the solution. Like the other entries in this line, the stickers are surprisingly sturdy and can be reused just fine a few times, and the puzzle-solving consists of item hunting and some simple analytical problems. Given that this is an entry in a series aimed at very young kids, adults won’t likely find the puzzles here challenging, but then again, look at the cover art. People who think this is something meant for adults deserve their disappointment.
Ugh, Egypt. It’s always about sand and pyramids, so this time around Brenda Haw is reduced to plastering most of each spread with sand, sand, and more sand, and as a result, everything is mostly yellow and orange. The artwork is lacking compared to those in other gamebooks in this line.
Anyway, you will assist Fred, a kid who has a book full of convenient information and clues that will extricate him from later sticky situations, on his trip to Cairo. His Aunt Cleo is organizing the excavation of a newly found pyramid – the entrance is still to be located, drats – and for some reason she thinks that having a boy underfoot would be a great idea. Fred arrives and somehow manages to spot Cleo being forced into a truck. A man named Seth claims that Cleo is off to town to post some letters, as if she wouldn’t ask some native serfs to do it for her, humph. You help Fred quickly realize that Cleo didn’t go mail her letters like Seth said, but when that man asks Fred to buy him a sandwich, off he goes to happily shop at the nearby market. Really. Will you be shocked to learn that Seth and his accomplices are up to no good?
This one is certainly aimed at kids because the plot holes are simply terrible. Aunt Cleo conveniently shows up at a penultimate moment, and an adult will probably wonder whether she’s the mastermind behind it all because the timing is too convenient. But since kids are simple creatures, they aren’t supposed to think of anything other than Cleo luckily shows up for the getaway. Also, Seth tries to trap Fred permanently inside the pyramid – not something one would expect to be in a kiddie book, surely – but that criminal is punished by the police by being made to clean up the museum. Fred’s friend rescues him by somehow finding a convenient opening in the pyramid wall that leads her straight to him. The kids decide to find the treasure, with the plan to somehow escape and tell the authorities of its location before the bad guys, who already have a head start over them, discover the treasure too. Yes, this is definitely for kids alright, because anyone older would be gaping at how nonsensical the whole thing is.
Still, the puzzles are actually more analytical in nature than previous entries. In addition to simple find-a-way-out-of-the-maze or spot-these-things type of puzzles, there are also some puzzles that require some analysis and deduction. That’s one reason why Sticker Puzzle Planet gets an extra oogie for an otherwise rather drab and ridiculous adventure that won’t make sense to anyone over the age of five.