Title: Pierre The Maze Detective
The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone
Author: Hiro Kamigaki and IC4DESIGN
Written by: Chihira Moruyama
Translated by: Emma Sakamiya
Publisher: Laurence King Publishing
Release Date: September 2015
BLURB from Goodreads
Pierre the Maze Detective has a new case. Mr X has stolen the Maze Stone, which has the power to turn the whole of Opera City into a maze. Can you help Pierre and his friend Carmen find their way through the mazes – and stop Mr X before it's too late?
This beautifully illustrated book features 15 full-spread illustrations of intricate, magical mazes. Take a trip through a fantastic world of underground cities, hot-air balloons, tree-top towns and haunted houses. Trace your way through each maze, spot the clues and solve the extra mystery challenges along the way. Hours of puzzle fun, for all maze detectives aged 8+. A page of answers with the routes through the mazes and other solutions is included at the end of the book.
I was looking forward to receiving this book after being told about it by Midas PR. Though my daughter is now 19yrs old I still enjoy researching and reviewing titles that she may have enjoyed when she was younger, and after reading the blurb on Goodreads about this one both myself and my daughter were highly anticipating seeing a physical copy of this book.
As I said above I was approached by Midas PR and provided with a physical copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and opinion.
The cover of the book is a wonderfully coloured illustration of a busy street scene. the book is what I would say is a large hardback book that measures 10.5" x 13" / 27cm x 33cm / 27omm x 330mm so it is definitely a decent size for a gift or treat.
Would this cover have made me pick it up in a book store? Yes definitely! Is this the type of book I would purchase as a gift for a youngster? Oh yes! It's exactly the type of book I would have bought for my daughter at Christmas time, along with word searches and such things.
Both the inside of the cover at the front of the book and the inside cover at the back of the book has all old signage on it such as "No Guts. No Glory. Exploration." "The Detective Bureau", and "Opera City". This adds to the feeling of the quality, and mystery of the book. The title page is presented as an aged parchment type of paper, yellowed and stained with age. All these extra pages adding to the anticipation as to what is to come after. Then you have the contents list and How To Play instructions on the left, with the introductory "Picture The Scene" and images of the characters that will be seen within the book, such as Pierre, Carmen, Pierres friend and Mr X The Phantom thief! There are also images of a Gendarme, A Pirate, A business man a wizard/Warlock and what looks to be Dracula! So a really diverse set of characters!
The book/game starts in Pierre's Garage. The illustration of the settings are all double page spread and are high quality, extremely detailed images. In the bottom left of the illustration the "Start" is marked by the actual word start. The section on the left hand page at the very bottom of the image explains what is actually happening in the scene. Carmen, Pierre's friend has just excitedly burst into his garage with the news a major crime has just occurred . Carmen has a newspaper that details the crime and a letter from Mr X in her hand too. So Pierre must solve the crime because he is the Maze Detective!
On the very bottom corresponding right hand side page is the letter from Mr X, on it are instruction's telling Pierre what he should do. There is also what is depicted as a scrap of paper a list of hidden items Pierre (and you of course) must find. In Pierre's Garage the list say's the following must be found: 1 Gold Star, 1 Red Trophy, and 1 Green Treasure Chest. Next to this "scrap of paper" is a box which lists Pierre's Treasures in it that you also need to find. they are, A model airship, A white cuddly bear, A Red Truck, and A sun mask. the final information on this section of the page is the newspaper that Carmen brings into the garage that has the headline "Maze Stone stolen by master criminal: Mr X the Phantom Thief" so there is the very first part of your mission!
The book continues in this way in various different settings such as The Museum, Downtown, through the book to The Haunted Mansion and finishing on the last setting The Last Giant Maze, all following the type of format I explained in my description of Pierre's Garage. Then there is the Epilogue which is set out in the style of a newspaper called The Opera City Times. There is also a page that shows the answers to the individual settings mazes and the objects you should have found are marked with an X but don't go spoiling the fun looking at the answers first!
The images/mazes remind me of the scenes I used to love searching for a list of items in my Christmas or holiday Activity books as a child. I also loved re-visiting doing this with my daughter when she was much younger, so getting a third chance at this type of item search was a real flash from the past treat for me!
So to sum up I would say this book is not simply "a book" it is a game, a mystery game to take part in. I can imagine it keeping the reader/player very busy for a long long time. Every time I look at one of the illustrations I spot something else I hadn't previously seen. The illustrations are high quality and immensely detailed.
Could anything be improved on? Hmm this is a hard one as I would have said some sort of game pieces would be great to mark your places in the maze if there is more than one player. Or perhaps a clear perspex overlay on the pages that you could draw your route through the maze on as well as marking the hidden objects as you find them. Then you could erase the route/marks and let someone else play or maybe even re-play yourself another day.
Then when I thought of this, I came to the conclusion that not having these things is actually part of the game. Part of the game is using your memory. For you to remember your route through the maze, and those places the objects you need to search for are.
So did I enjoy the book? Yes, I did. Even from an adult perspective I found it, challenging, enchanting, charming as well as interesting and kind of addictive too! This book is a test of memory, a puzzle, and tests your attention to both detail and the larger picture as well as a test of patience too. Would I recommend the book? Definitely for children and possibly even adults who enjoy puzzles and mysteries. As a child I would have adored finding this book amongst my Christmas gifts and I think I can say the same for my now 19yr old, it's the type of thing she would have thoroughly enjoyed as well as nagged me to play along with her. Then she would have taken it to my parents house and challenged them to play it with her too. It would have remained on her bookshelf and been played/read and re-played/re-read time after time. Would I purchase another book of this type? Nowadays? Possibly not as my daughter is older, as are my cousins children etc but I would definitely recommend it to friends for their children. I have to say everything about this book screams quality. So the description I was given of "It's kind of like "Where's Wally" was that a good description? I have seen the Where's Wally books but always thought them more male orientated where I think Pierre and his friend Carmen will appeal to both the make and female genders. Being totally truthful I don't think the comparison to where's Wally does this book justice. I think this book is quite unique and should be a popular purchase at Christmas time. I also think it is something that won't really age, and should remain a popular book/game/toy.