An action-packed tale of adventure, intrigue, and gadgetry for kids; a baffling, multi-step puzzle for adults hidden in the art.
In a thud of inspiration about 25 years ago, I wrote and sketched up a book called Zep (in the Curse of the Evil Dr. Sumac Who Lives Next Door). The book’s 130 pages were held together using a single binder ring. When my daughter came along, I started reading Zep to her, and it soon became one of her favorite stories.
For years I’ve dreamed of turning Zep into a real book, and the time has finally come. But I’m looking to do something I’ve never done before — self-publish.
You can help in that effort by pre-ordering the book on Kickstarter (you’ll also get some insider extras). There are additional levels of involvement, such as buying yourself a piece of original art from the book, that will help in funding the project. EVERYTHING IS EXPLAINED HERE.
Hunting for Heroes
Includes 40 unique puzzles, plus full-page articles on the Poison Squad; Sgt. Reckless, the Korean War’s bravest horse; women spies of The Civil War; the Star Trek star Martin Luther King Jr. looked up to; Brooklyn’s unlikely chess whizzes; five amazing super-rodents; a 100-year-old marathoner; hero kids around the world; and tons more! [CLICK for more info]
Plunging into Mystery
Includes 40 unique puzzles, plus full-page articles on Clever Hans, the four-legged adding machine; Strasbourg’s dancing plague, what do dreams mean?; the White House’s secret defenses; the pea-headed children of Woolpit, England; did a U.S. vice president’s daughter really walk the plank?; a Pacific city built of huge lava logs; and tons more! [CLICK for more info]
Here’s a “fun” puzzle, adapted from one that appears in iFlush: Hurtling thru History. Click on the image to download a PDF.
Last Tuesday morning, I met up with Chaeli Mycroft (2011 winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize) and her mother Zelda in New York City.
These two women (Chaeli is now 19) are the core of the Chaeli Campaign, an organization based in Cape Town, South Africa, that works to help children with disabilities. Chaeli was born with cerebral palsy but has turned that into an asset, raising money and awareness and speaking up for those who can’t.
I came to know Chaeli while writing about her for an upcoming book, iFlush: Hunting for Heroes. She certainly qualifies as a hero (here’s a four-minute video that tells her story) and, after our meeting, I now know her mother qualifies as well! She’s a strong force and voice for the cause … and someone who won’t let anyone depart without a big bear hug.
Chaeli is a magnet for important awards, and she was in town to receive the 2013 World of Children Award. But she had a few extra days, so I arranged a change of pace from the hoity-toity world of important awards and fund-raising charities — a visit to MAD magazine.
We met up just south of Grand Central Station to grab a round of coffees at Starbucks, then hopped in a cab — NYC has a fleet of 233 cabs with wheelchair lifts — and made our way over to MAD headquarters at 1700 Broadway.
I think the MAD crew got as much a kick out of it as Chaeli and Zelda did.
Click on any of the photos to enlarge. TOP: Editor Dave Croatto, Art Director Sam Viviano, Chaeli, me, and Associate Art Director Ryan Flanders. MIDDLE: Chaeli and Zelda in the DC Comics reception area. BOTTOM: Chaeli’s photo now graces MAD‘s “Celebrity Board.” (The two MAD photos by Lana Limón.)
People ? Celebrity Puzzler
Here’s the cover we didn’t use. To find out the actual title, click on the cover.
Inside you’ll find a dozen of our patented Top Ten Jumbo Puzzlers, plus a quintet of Top Ten Fun Fact pages covering today’s sizzlingest celebrities. Also, back by popular demand, seven types of puzzles and a six-page treasure trove of trivia.
Puzzles and art direction by Patrick Merrell; edited by Cutler Durkee and Lisa Russell; photos by Linda Pacheco; brought to fruition by Isata Yansaneh; published by Time Home Entertainment; 128 pages;
$11.99 less on Amazon.
Coming October 29, Jumbo Word Search: The Hunger Games Edition (the unofficial puzzle book for fans). A whopping 240 pages of Hunger Games stuff you’ll find nowhere else:
• An entire section of puzzles for each Hunger Games book and another for the movies.
• Fascinating Hunger Games facts at every turn.
• 8 types of word search puzzles: regular, jumbo, plot search, one-word, clue, quote, trivia, and THG.
Edit/design by Patrick Merrell; puzzles by Jamie and Patrick Merrell; cover by Anne-Michelle Gallero; published by Time Home Entertainment.
$12.99 less on Amazon.
Five factoids from the book:
• Bathsheba Everdene, the lead character in Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, inspired Katniss’s last name.
• WINNERS’ DESPOT is an anagram of PRESIDENT SNOW.
• In a 2012 People magazine poll, the “which hunk do you like best?” voting favored Peeta over Gale, 73 percent to 27 percent.
• Suzanne Collins found occasional relief from the realities of working on The Hunger Games by writing episodes of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, a preschool Nick Jr. show.
• Other fictional Buttercups: the princess in The Princess Bride, a unicorn in Toy Story 3, and a tomboy Powerpuff Girl.
iFlush: Hurtling thru History is now officially available (ages 8 and up; 96 pages).
A FEW OF THE TOPICS:
Grover Cleveland’s rubber jaw • Cynisca, chariot princess • New York’s creepiest island • Mayan books • The widow pirate • Santa Anna’s leg • The treehouse tribe • Civil War picnickers • Mummy cats • Russian America • The real story of El Dorado • Invasion of the Aussie bunnies
PLUS 40 unique puzzles, one accompanying each article.
The first iFlush book, Swimming in Science, is available now — ahead of schedule.
After all these years, it’s my first-ever hardcover book, so I’m all in a tizzy. The publisher has even splurged on embossing and spot gloss for the front cover and schmancy endpapers inside.
What’s in it? You can read about the premise by clicking on the book, but I’ll add to that by listing some of the science topics in it:
Extremophiles • Tesla’s earthquake machine • Elektro, the Moto-Man • science fiction • Sophie Germain • Pong • Professor Laura Bassi • quackery • Shen Kuo’s Brush Talks • grille codes • Mario Molina • autism • fossil hunter Mary Anning • the Baghdad battery • Titanoboa • Friendly Floatees • thorium energy • Lewis Latimer • the Tunguska event • bee queen Eva Crane • Hector the astro-rat — even quantum mechanics! (O.K., so that’s like half the topics.)
But, wait, there’s even more! Each article has a related puzzle that’s different and fun and cool.
For smart kids and curious adults (ages 7 and up); 96 pages; $12.95 list price, $9.32 on Amazon.
The difficulty increases and variations are introduced as you go, including illustrated anagrams.
Puzzles by Patrick Merrell • puzzle concept by Stephanie Spadaccini • published by Portable Press • 288 pages • 5 x 7″ • $9.95.
Ambigrams Revealed, a new book by Nikita Prokhorov, makes a great addition to your ambigram library … or a great start to your ambigram library.
What’s in it? Insightful discussions with top ambigram artists, including John Langdon and Scott Kim. In-depth analysis of selected designs with step-by-step sketches showing how they were created. Helpful advice on creating ambigrams. And a whopping 40-page section showcasing ambigrams from all over the world, over 170 in all.
A few of my favorites: A flowing-metal Ringworld ambigram by Bastian Pinnenberg [page 127], Labyrinth graphically spelled out within the path of a maze by Krysztof Sliwa [page 120], a highly readable Rock n Roll by Kai Hammond [page 138], and a clever variation by Scott Kim, the numbers 1-12 used to spell Schönberg, the composer who invented 12-tone composition [page 32].
The first iFlush book (iFlush: Swimming in Science, post 181) isn’t even out yet, but here’s an announcement for its sequel, iFlush: Hurtling thru History.
Coming in September, this 96-page compendium of history, stories, fascinating factoids, amusing anecdotes, unique puzzles and art will be everything you’ll come to expect of the iFlush books.
You may want to check out this new Kickstarter project, The Maze of Games: “It’s a full-length puzzle novel with over 50 puzzles and a deeply engaging story, all woven together in a ‘solve your own adventure’ style which will keep you jumping from page to page.”
Mazes and puzzles in an illustrated book … and none of it by me. Sounds like a good combination!
Coming this spring: iFlush: Swimming in Science, the first book in a surprising new series for kids. Edgy, absorbing, refreshing, fun … and tons of real science!
Written, illustrated, and designed by Patrick Merrell from a concept by the big brains at the Bathroom Readers’ Institute, Gordon Javna and Kim T. Griswell. Published by Portable Press (96 pages, hardcover $10.36).