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Puzzle Box, Volume 1

Peter Grabarchuk and Serhiy Grabarchuk, editors
Publisher: 
Dover Publications
Publication Date: 
2017
Number of Pages: 
96
Format: 
Paperback
Price: 
16.95
ISBN: 
9780486810041
Category: 
General
[Reviewed by
Richard J. Wilders
, on
01/15/2018
]

These two volumes each contain about 300 puzzles (many, but not all, math related) along with their solutions. These books are colorful and inviting — I started browsing mine as soon as they arrived. The puzzles were created by an eclectic team of 12 puzzle lovers and span the gamut of the sorts of puzzles one typically encounters in such a collection. The presentation is wonderful and should attract the interest of puzzle solvers, especially children. Puzzles are rated as to difficulty and the introduction includes some general instructions to help you get started.

Some classic puzzle types are represented here, including match stick puzzles, variations on Sudoku, chess board problems, moving geometric shapes to attain a given target shape, logic puzzles (with grids provided to keep track of your analysis), logic puzzles, and lots of really cute one-of-a-kind puzzles. I really enjoyed working these and would recommend these books from children from age 12 or so up.

Here are a few of my favorites, chosen from the one-of-a-kind collection.

Volume 2 #101: In the USA is it possible to travel by car in such a way that you visit exactly seven states and enter them in alphabetical order?

Volume 2 # 69: 3256 has the consecutive pairs 32, 25, 56 and each is the product of single digits: \(32=8\cdot 4,\quad 24=5\cdot 5, \quad 56=7\cdot 8\).Arrange the digits 1 through 9 so that every consecutive pair is the product of single digits.

Volume 2 # 177: Swap two digits to restore the correct equation: \[3 \times 2 \div 6 \times 2= 9\times 2.\]

Volume 2 #161: Select one entry in each column so that a true equations results when read from left to right:

7

1

=

0

=

\(\times\)

\(+\)

6

4

4

\(\times\)

1

7

4

1

0

\(-\)

7

Because these Puzzle Boxes seem to be designed to appeal to children I enlisted the help of my smart friend Augustine Villalobos (age 11), with whom I meet once a week to discuss AMC 10 problems.  Here are his reviews of each volume:

Volume 1: I read the book Puzzle Box Vol. 1. The presentation was beautiful with attractive and bright colors. Having an answer key was very helpful I really liked the maze puzzles (examples: 46 and 64). The book was challenging in a fun way. I would recommend this book to my friends and especially to math lovers. Overall, the book is great, but I would suggest a few minor changes. First, it might be nice if the book had 365 problems instead of 300 so you could do one problem each day for a year and the book could be called Puzzle Boxes, A Year’s Supply Vol. 1. Secondly, some of the problems with 2 stars (low difficulty) are harder than some of the three star puzzles, such as problems 10 and 46. Making these simple changes would make the book even better!

Volume 2: There are many great attributes of this book. This book has challenging but fun and doable puzzles. The book is very nicely written, and has great pictures. I really like the “what is different puzzles (70, 194, and others). Overall, this book is great. A few areas could use some minor improvements. For example, problem 290 is a lot harder than the book say it is. I think 105 is a lot easier than the book says it is. I don’t think the solution for number 101 is very helpful. Fixing these small issues would probably make it a better book. Overall, I highly recommend this book.

(See also the page for volume two.)


Rich Wilders is Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Lederman Scholars Program which brings bright pre-college students on campus for STEM contests and regular college courses in all disciplines Augustine Villalobos is a 6th grade student who loves math and especially math contests. He also plays tennis. 

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