Penelope Strudel: And the Birthday Treasure Trail

Frances Lincoln. Jun. 2021. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780711254312.
K-Gr 4–Move over Waldo,! It’s time for this Griffin and Sabine-like puzzle book featuring a circus of mischievous puffins (11 on each page). Uncle Derek Custard has hidden a birthday present for his niece Penelope Strudel to keep it safe from the puffins and has left a series of letters and elaborate clues for her to crack in order to find the gift. This clever British import is full of dozens of things to look for in an elaborate search and find. The title goes one step further with math puzzles, codes, and mazes embedded in the book, which, if solved. will lead to Uncle Derek’s gift. The cheerful illustrations are detailed and colorful, with many adorable puffins engaged in all sorts of wackiness. The book works on multiple levels for mixed audiences, and can serve as either a simple search and find, or, for older sleuths, a lovely introduction to cryptography; potential classroom extensions could lead to code breaking, problem-solving and letter-writing. The chief drawback is that several of the pages have a workbook fill-ins for solving the puzzles which may prove too tempting for readers to ignore.
VERDICT Although collections will have trouble keeping this intact, it’s sure to delight puzzle-lovers and gumshoes alike.

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