If you’re tired of playing Uno solo, or your family can’t weather another Monopoly game, pass the time – and plan your next adventure – with the new, beautifully illustrated Australia Map Puzzle.
The 252-piece puzzle was designed by Australian author, editor and artist Tania McCartney, known for her work on more than 50 children’s books.
McCartney, who describes herself as puzzle obsessed, had created two illustrated maps for publisher Hardie Grant – including an intricately detailed map of the world – and realised a map would make a perfect puzzle.
She hand-drew this one in watercolour and spent nearly six months on the illustrations and research for the accompanying 12-page factbook. Once lockdown is over, McCartney hopes the puzzle will be an educational resource for schools and libraries.
“If you can engage children with really fun, great content that entertains them, they get educated by association,” says McCartney. “That’s the secret to get kids learning and engaging in a creative way.”
The puzzle covers Australia’s land, sea and sky, and the diverse native animals and plants who call them home. You’ll find more than 300 quirky modern imaginings of iconic flora and fauna, popular landmarks and more dotted across the landscape.
Once the last piece is in place, the map can be used to play “I spy”, or hunt for classic Australiana such as the Big Banana or a meat pie.
Facts and trivia tidbits are scattered about in text bubbles. For example, did you know kangaroos outnumber people in Australia?
There are a number of Indigenous cultural icons, too. Follow the legendary Ghan rail line and look for Uluru, a didgeridoo, woven baskets and a boomerang.
“Wherever I could, I included Indigenous cultural elements that help foster a multicultural understanding,” says McCartney. “I feel very passionately about kids being well-travelled and well-versed on cultural aspects.”
Each page of the book is dedicated to a state or territory and filled with additional facts to match the map’s illustrations.
Even Prime Minister Scott Morrison is getting around jigsaw puzzles during lockdown, and this one lets you explore Australia’s vast landscape without leaving your dining-room table.
The puzzle is available online for $24.99 through several book retailers. Find one through Hardie Grant’s website.