Simple brain-teasers yield deep thoughts in this winsome puzzle-book.
Ciesla (The Logic Puzzle Project) includes 27 puzzles, each of which consists of a brief aphorism rewritten in code using a simple substitution key that replaces each letter with a different one. (One example: with the starter clue that all the Ts in the original have been changed to Fs and the Bs to Ls, “FM LY MS HMF FM LY” can be decoded to reveal a familiar Shakespearean preamble.) The puzzles fall in the sweet spot of modest difficulty, a smidge beyond Wheel of Fortune on the toughness scale. They require canny inferences based on the frequencies of letters and small words and the likelihoods of letter combinations; occasionally the solution jumps out in a flash of insight. Solving them one after another becomes an enjoyable, flowing experience, a kind of linguistic version of completing Sudoku puzzles. While their puzzle-solving gears turn, readers will soak up useful life lessons. Each puzzle is prefaced by an unscrambled proverb, witticism or mystic pronouncement by the likes of Horace Greeley (“The darkest hour in the life of any man is when he sits down to study how to get money without honestly earning it”) and Oliver Wendell Holmes (“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared with what lies within us”). While not quite as pithy, the ideas expressed in the solutions to the puzzles—“It has been said a person won’t be in control of his life until the day he can show that he has learned to control his emotions”—certainly bear pondering, and could exert a subliminal character-building influence over kids as they painstakingly decipher them.
An amusing and mildly edifying diversion.