Linked mazes lead young questors past math, measurement, and map-reading challenges to an undersea castle.
A-bustle with automobiles for all that it’s supposed to be under water, the tangled roadways leading through Merp Town aren’t hard to navigate. But along with detours required by such obstacles as a giant octopus or Snozzles the sea dragon, travelers are frequently required to hold up a certain number of fingers, use the coordinates at the edges to locate hidden items, count cars of a certain color, or collect small pearls or other tokens before proceeding. The 12th maze leads to one final challenge: a cutaway castle with a top that can be reached only by climbing the tallest visible ladder, shimmying up the longest of a set of ropes, and like tasks. In Boston’s cartoon illustrations, tiny fish and other sea creatures are interspersed with green- or yellow-skinned merpeople in dress that seems better suited to dry land than undersea. That gesture toward diversity is not repeated in the co-published In the Jungle, in which sets of similar exercises in counting and finding are hosted by hut-dwelling native residents called Leafies, who are all green and sport dreadlocks and leopard-skin garments.
An invigorating wade into a range of useful skills, though the settings aren’t as carefully crafted as the instructional elements. (suggested activities) (Instructional picture book. 5-7)