Win a copy of the Hidden Tales book and join treasure hunters on a trail across Cambridge
A children’s book that leads readers on a treasure hunt across the city’s museums has created an exclusive competition with a new set of clues for Cambridge Independent readers to solve.
The Riddle of the White Sphinx is the first book in The Hidden Tales, a series of illustrated children’s adventure stories funded by the Arts Council that was launched in Cambridge this summer described as the Da Vinci Code for children.
Now readers can win one of three signed copies in our competition by finding items hidden in a new picture painted by the book’s illustrator, Jennifer Bell. The scene is set in a snowy Cambridge with the white sphinx stalking menacingly across the landscape. The sphinx is based on a small sculpture in the Fitzwilliam Museum.
The picture contains a number of locks and keys symbols – all readers have to do is find them all and say how many locks and keys there are in the painting, below.
Jennifer said: “The Riddle of the White Sphinx is not just a great story, it’s also a real-life treasure trail through seven museums in Cambridge with clues to find an actual secret artefact. And the puzzles don’t stop there...
“The idea of the hidden objects is something we worked on for The Hidden Tales book – as well as codes to crack and a museum trail to follow on every illustrated page, there is a key and keyhole to find, and some are hidden pretty well, it’s not that easy! In this Christmas poster there are more keys and keyholes to find – some are obvious, some really not.”
The book has been described as the Da Vinci Code for children and the race is on to find a hidden artefact somewhere in Cambridge.
Readers and their families can join a city-wide treasure hunt through Cambridge’s museums by solving the mysteries and breaking the codes, all set in a fantasy world but linked to real-life museum artefacts and people from history.
More than 1,000 copies of the book have been sold but only 20 children have so far solved the mystery and found the hidden treasure at the end of the trail. They have all received a certificate and will be invited to a special ceremony next year with anyone else who wins before September 2020.
Author Mark Wells said: “The hidden artefact at the end of the trail has a golden keyhole and that is why we have used the key and keyhole symbols throughout the book as they are associated with unlocking the mystery.
“Each illustration in the book is effectively a treasure map through a museum, like a breadcrumb trail. You find one artefact then another, getting you closer and closer to what you need to find.
“All the people who have solved it so far all say the same thing – once they got to the museum and they had the illustration, they were walking around with the book open on that page spotting the artefacts and ticking them off until they found what they were looking for.
“In this new picture, set at Christmas, you can see the Cambridge skyline with a snowscape and the sphinx prowling through the snow. You see the mouse running away, about to leapinto the world of secrets which is a dark and mysterious place underground. But tucked away in the picture are lots of locks and keys. We found that if children realised they can spot hidden clues in the pictures, they gain confidence to tackle the whole mystery.”
The book is based on an idea by former TV producer Sorrel May who wanted to create an experience for children similar to the Masquerade treasure hunt book of the 1970s. Masquerade, by Kit Williams, was a children’s picture book that contained clues that would lead the reader to a real treasure – a buried rabbit sculpture made of gold.
How to take part:
Take a good look at the illustration and let us know how many keys and how many keyholes you can find. Send your answers to the Hidden Tales team with your name, address and email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Competition deadline is December 18.Usual competition rules apply.
The Riddle of the White Sphinx is available from all Cambridge bookshops priced at £14.99. For a copy signed by the author Mark Wells, visit hiddentales.co.uk/shop.
More by this authorAlex Spencer