Pierre the Maze Detective

pierrecoverPierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone written by Chihiro Maruyama, illustrated by by Hiro Kamigaki and IC4Design and translated by Emma Sakamiya and Elizabeth Jenner is quite something.

The Maze Stone, which has the power to turn the whole of Opera City into a maze, has been stolen, and you – dear reader – are needed to help track down the culprit and restore this magical object.

Why should you take up this challenge?

Because en route…

  • you’ll journey by air balloon, through the most impressive treehouses you’ve ever seen, in and out of Escher-esque buildings, across giant octopus infected oceans and through a bizarre underground fleamarket where just about anything you can imagine is up for sale.
  • you’ll enter a strange hybrid land set in the 1920s-30s, half-video game half-astonishing book, collecting extra points and hidden items, watching out for traps and more. All you need to do is imagine the soundtrack.
  • you’ll be dazzled by incredibly intricate illustrations packed with many more stories than the primary one following the fate of the maze stone. Every “wrong” turning as you try to crack the maze on each page will give you reason to wonder what’s been happening, and what will happen next!

  • If you’ve a child poorly in bed, or it’s just a rainy day calling out for a duvet on the sofa, Pierre the Maze Detective is a rich and rewarding rabbit hole ready for anyone who loves losing themselves in an adventure of almost unimaginable detail and scale.


    This stop-motion video showing how one of the double page spreads was planned out gives you a good impression of the labyrinthine, meticulous nature of the illustrations:

    A picture book for older children (and their grown-ups) who love a challenge or who are inspired by the imaginative possibilities of vast landscapes and settings, Pierre the Maze Detective helpfully comes with a key to all the mazes, and also a page of extra delights to go back and look for – all printed in the style of a vintage newspaper.


    Playful, precise, interactive and highly imaginative, this incredibly well produced book (with its lovely paper and large size) is original and eye-opening. As I said, it’s quite something!

    Pierre the Maze Detective owes something, I believe, to the work of another Japanese picture book creator: Mitsumasa Anno. Anno created a whole series of detailed wordless picture books where a tiny character wends his way through different landscapes, and although his books weren’t mazes as such, they share with Pierre the sense of journeying, immense details, and rich stories being told away from the most direct path to the final destination.


    Having enjoyed the mazes, the details and the adventures in Pierre the Maze Detective we decided it was time to make our own mazes. Using the basic design principles outlined here, we decided to build our maze out of lego and turn it into a marble run.


    We all really enjoyed making each other different mazes to try out. The lego made it really easy to create new mazes and kept the kids happily occupied for a good couple of hours – longer than I had anticipated!


    Whilst creating our mazes we listened (rather eclectically) to:

  • Missing in the Corn Maze by vogelJoy
  • It’s A Maze from the Original Broadway Cast Recording of “The Secret Garden”
  • Private Investigations by Dire Straits

  • Other maze activities which might work well alongside reading Pierre the Maze Detective include:

  • Going to the park and making a maze out of leaves – perfect for this time of year in the UK
  • Creating a maze out of books – perhaps with the help of your local library?
  • Making the most of lots of cardboard and using it to create a giant maze – here’s one idea from Viviane Schwarz, and here’s another.
  • Creating a ‘lazer’ maze for the kids to try and make their way through

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    8 Responses

    1. Ruth

      AMAZING! (Sorry – couldn’t resist that corny (ouch!) pun) I will definitely be looking for one to add to my collection.

    2. sophie

      My boys love the search and find books. The shen shan collection is a good one (http://www.shenshan-et-litchi.blogspot.fr/search/label/La%20Biblioth%C3%A8que).
      I found this one at the bristish library shop and I could not resist : Where’s Will?: Find Shakespeare Hidden in His Plays. Each double page where you have to find “Will” begins with a double page about the play. We are french so it needs to be translated for children but I am sure it will never be officially translated in french so it was worth buying before jumping on the train (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wheres-Will-Shakespeare-Hidden-Plays/dp/1782402284) !
      “Pierre the maze detective” is “Labyrinthe city” in french. I like your title better !

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