Book Thoughts: Scholastic Reading Club #1: Fantastic Word Puzzles

The Scholastic Reading Club is a program for school teachers to get more students reading books. Instead of having to go to the bookstore or library, kids can get books right from their classroom. I found several of these old books in my bookshelf that I am giving away later this year. I got them all in the mid-90s in elementary school. They are all easy reading. None of them are famous books or authors, but I wanted to get my thoughts down for them before I give them away later in the year.

Fantastic Word Puzzles was a puzzle book by Michael B. Mager. With a copyright from 1981, this was a pretty old book, but the printing of my version had to be from the mid-90s. My sister may have gotten this one because I remember not being very good at puzzles. As she got older, some of the things she didn’t want anymore got handed down to me.

Anyways, in the book each puzzle had a few words with different shapes or things happening to them. The reader then had to interpret the words into a common word or phrase. One example from the back of the book was PANT PANT. The solution was “pair of pants”. Another example was DECI    SION, the answer being “split decision”. The reader had to take the words given and add other words to make the word or phrase. The clues came in the form of how the words were displayed.

I found that each puzzle I either got it within thirty seconds or I wasn’t going to get it at all. I hate guessing games, so this annoyed me. It had the upside, though, of keeping the book addictive. It was really easy to just go from one puzzle to the next. The book had around 360 of these puzzles, but I got through them very fast. This book would be best as a coffee table book. It’s not something a person spend a lot of time on, no more than 5-10 puzzles each day. The author sometimes ran out of ideas though. Some of the puzzles were basically copies of earlier ones, using a different word but the same exact concept.

It was interesting looking through some of these puzzles. I found two based on nuclear bombs, giving away the times the author wrote the book. Back in the ’80s, the Cold War was still on. There was always an underlying fear of bombings. There were some phrases I didn’t even know. I think these must have fallen out of use these days. That brings up one of the bad things about this book. If I didn’t know the word or phrase, it would be pretty much impossible to solve the puzzle. Sometimes I figured out the solution but didn’t think so because it wasn’t a phrase I recognized.

Overall, it was an entertaining book, if a little short. It couldn’t have cost more than $5, but it’s not a book that someone would want to re-read again and again. There are probably better puzzle books out there with a little more variety, but they will cost more. I remember my mom getting a few of those thick puzzle books before vacations to keep us kids busy during long vacation trips. This was the good way to keep kids entertained, not just putting them in front of a smartphone or tablet or TV screen. Vacation should be about leaving technology behind for a few days.

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