Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Maths Quest - The Museum of Mysteries by David Glover (QED Publishing)

Maths Quest - The Museum of Mysteries

Written and Illustrated by
David Glover

Published by QED Publishing

This is such a fantastic idea, I cannot understand for the life of me why ALL children's educational books don't come in this format. Remember when you were a kid, and you spent far too much time reading those "Choose your own adventure" books like "The Warlock of Firetop Mountain" and "Deathtrap Dungeon"?

Remember how little time you spent reading history and maths fiction books? Exactly. Now imagine if you were the sort of genius - a genius like David Glover - who married the two ideas together to produce a book that is as page-turningly tense as those adventure books, but taught you plenty of useful number skills in the process?

That's essentially what you have in store when you read "Museum Mysteries" - part of the Maths Quest series. The idea that you can engage children's brains more effectively when they feel like they're having fun rather than learning isn't a new one but this is the first time we've ever encountered a book like this, and it led to the question at the top of the review. Why aren't all children's educational books this much fun?

"Maths Quest - Museum Mysteries" invites you to solve a mystery and seek treasure using the tried and tested formula of those 'choose your own adventure' books. You start off with a little of the story, and must soon resolve a mathematical riddle in order to progress through the adventure. Choose the page that you believe tallies with your correct answer, and your quest continues. Choose wisely and you'll be well on the way to fortune and glory. Choose wrongly, and your quest is over, dungeoneer.

Charlotte and Mummy picked this one out of the library stack and I was a little apprehensive that it might be too 'old' for Charlotte (the target age is 8+) but she couldn't get enough of the format. A rich setting dabbling with mystery and history, with some brain-bending mathematical puzzles to solve meant that the book was deeply engaging and interesting. With a little help from me, Charlotte was soon progressing through the book and really enjoyed the format.

The only tiny little negative was that it wasn't always easy to pick out the chapter / symbol that you were supposed to progress to after a puzzle (the aforementioned choose your own adventure books were also a little like this at times so it can't really be picked on as a problem, particularly for the age group the book is aimed at).

A stupendously good idea, we'll be looking for more in the series.

Charlotte's best bit: The book expertly builds tension and atmosphere with great illustrations and descriptive text. Children will love this without feeling like they're being 'schooled' at all!

Daddy's Favourite bit: I utterly loved "Choose your Own Adventure" books as a kid, I just wish my maths text books came in this format. What an absolutely stunningly good idea!

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