For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed puzzles of all kinds: jigsaw puzzles, hidden pictures, word puzzles such as Jumble™ and crosswords, manipulatives (I still have my original Rubik’s Cube™, Alexander’s Star,  Pyraminx, and The Dukes of Hazzard™ sequential puzzles from the early 1980s), and any other brain teasers I could wrap my mind — or fingers — around!

In this space, I plan to pay homage to these wonderful pastimes, with reviews and features on puzzles of all kinds. In the meanwhile, feel free to let me know about your favorite puzzles or share puzzle news with me!

For now, you may want to check out the AGPI (Association of Games & Puzzles  International) website at: http://www.gamesandpuzzles.org!


Puzzle Review:

TDC Games Beach Babies Jigsaw Puzzles for Dummies™

I love to work puzzles, so I’m always looking for new ones and I especially love beach scenes. I bought this puzzle thinking it was bright and cute and would be an easy puzzle since it is geared toward those new to puzzles or who don’t work them well (as all of the Dummies™ line of products are geared toward the novice). Though it did turn out to be cute (who doesn’t love adorable toddlers at the beach?!), it was definitely not one I’d recommend to anyone just learning to work puzzles or who struggles with working them (the box says for ages 8 and up, but I recommend 12+).

First of all, Beach Babies is 1,000 pieces…way too many for newbies. I recommend starting with a 100 or 300 piece puzzle and working your way up to 500, 750, and then eventually 1,000. Secondly, it is very hard to work any puzzle without full artwork to refer to…only in a very small area on the back of the box is there a full picture for reference, making it very hard to see details to figure placement (a fold out poster of the artwork would be ideal here). Thirdly, this puzzle has several areas — for instance, the fencing, sand and sky — that are indeed a challenge to work. I found myself referring to the numbers on the back of the pieces several times to place pieces, even though I normally don’t have too many problems even with hard puzzles.

All in all, I do recommend this adorable puzzle, but not for beginners or those who struggle. I give it 3 puzzle pieces out of 5.




Puzzle Review:

Kodak Premium Puzzles: Sugary Shakes

This 1,500-piece puzzle featuring photographer Karen Romanko’s bright and fun photo is a nice challenge for anyone looking to spend more than a day or two on a single puzzle. Specialty milkshakes – filled with candy, cookies, and other sweet treats – sit upon patterned squares, all with enough colors and designs in common to make close attention to detail necessary. Pieces are “mounted on European Blue Board,” and feature unique, easy-connect shapes.

The manufacturer recommends this puzzle for ages 10 and up. My 17-year-old daughter (an avid puzzler) and I worked this puzzle together over 2-3 days and found it a small, though enjoyable, challenge at times, so I would recommend this for teens and above with patience and time on their side.

I give this sweet puzzle 5 out of 5 puzzle pieces.