Pierre 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…
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:
Other maze activities which might work well alongside reading Pierre the Maze Detective include:
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.