The Flask of Doom – Clive Gifford

Photo0153Fiendish mastercriminal Max Chaos has mad off with a flask containing an amazing antifriction liquid.  As he starts to wreak havoc with this dreaded ‘Flask of Doom’ the Mad Scientists and their intrepid leader, Dr. Genius, are lead into a sinister world of kidnapping, secret messages and missing formulae.  Can they piece together the clues and outwit the evil schemer before it’s too late?

This book takes me back to those days when their used to be loads of this type of book in the local library.  Stories that encouraged the reader to be involved in the fun rather than reading about somebody else solving the puzzles.  Veteran as I am with books these days, I’m ashamed to say that this type of books had completely slipped out of my mind box.

Until recently, when this blast from the past found me in a second-hand bookshop where the small sum of just 75p allowed me to ‘get involved’ once again with the added bonus that being an adult I should, hopefully be equal to the challenges which I singularly failed to do as a child.  As the conundrums involved thinking and with the answers being tucked into the back, I used to take that as encouragement to cheat which I feel helped later in life with various crosswords.

The gist of the book is that each double page follows our intrepid scientists as they push along the story and sneakily throw in some real learning but in a fun way.  It’s a cheery puzzler this, in which science, maths, word and observational skills are all tested in a gentle way whilst accenting the colourful and comical so it doesn’t seem like real work.

I had a lot of fun taking part, not just because of the nostalgia of the experience but also the light-hearted way that it approaches its subject matter.   I try to learn something from every book I read, no matter how outlandish, from this one I learnt that my observational skills are not all they could be or that I think they are.  I found that a bit disconcerting but if I had looked rather than glanced some of the puzzles would have been easier.

It’s outlandish, slapstick and short and encourages memory as well as an enquiring mind…this is the sort of book that can be shared with the kids and give us adults a bit of a brain workout, it’s a little like those great Professor Layton games for the Nintendo DS.

Usborne did many books such as this and I am now going to be eagerly searching around for such exciting sounding books as:  Time Train to Ancient Rome, Mutiny at Crossbones Bay and Escape From Blood Castle because deep down I am still about 8 and loving it.


15 Replies to “The Flask of Doom – Clive Gifford”

    1. I am in quite a decent mood today and the book mirrors it…what with it reminding me of when we had a good library. Being that the book is aimed at kids, it makes me feel really clever to solve all the puzzles.


  1. I do love books like this! I also am in total agreement that Usborne books are wonderful and enchanting. I own quite a few for the kids…and myself of course! It is awesome to know you can enjoy books across the vast spectrum of offerings available…and more so that you share your findings with all of us! Your thoughts and reviews are wondrously varied and definitely keep us all on our toes wondering what you shall post next…. xxxxxx


    1. Well hello there and Welcome back!!!! The key to life is diversity and books are a must, the fun and quick books offset the non fiction and literary books and keep everything in order for me I love to share as well, let the love pour forth from my fingers, as it were. What will come next? Even I don’t know that from one day to the next, that is why I am called Ste instead, it of course is a shortened form of my real name Mysterious. xxxxxx


  2. Defeat a ruthless scientist outwit the crooks…who doesn’t want to do this? Adventures interwoven with puzzles to solve is a great way to get children ( and adults) away from the computer! Congrats on your find, Flask of Doom… it’s out of print!


    1. Out of print is a good thing as it encourages people to go to their local second hand stores and hunt for it coming up with a ton of other unexpected books as well. That, at least is my excuse for spending vast amounts of time in cobwebby back rooms.


  3. Hey Little brother, 🙂 I sucked at school and especially maths! Hahaha
    The book looks really colourful and the 8 yr old in me would read it. Lol
    Have a great day, hugs Paula xxx


    1. The answers in the back give you the safety net but you should be able to smite those colourful pages with your ninja ways I am sure. xx


  4. Usborne’s range of abridged classics and stories of historical figures abound here a few years back and I bought quite a collection for my growing three kids. The first boy has outgrown them now and is onto hard thrillers and suspense.

    Like you it was exciting reading them all. 🙂


    1. There is something about reading kids books that makes me happy, that and the feeling of progress that i feel by flying through the pages. I do love a nice collection on my shelves as well.


    1. Well it started with the work training book I had, the answers were in the back but we were trusted not to cheat (this was for a pay rise as well!) so naturally I aced the work book and went on to have a nice non-competitive wage that wasn’t worth getting out of bed for.


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