The Tiny Library Challenge, Round II

bear books kit 4Readers might recall the miniature library kit that almost drove Katie to the edge of sanity in 2021. It took 12 months, 46 hours and countless grey hairs, but Katie finally completed it! Fast forward to 2022, and the discovery of the Mind-Find Bookstore kit by Rolife Hands Craft. How can we resist, right? This bookstore has a BEAR in it!  So we decided to test the kit…except…now it’s MY turn to feel the agony and ecstacy of miniature building.

The Rolife kit is nicely packaged, and retails for around $20 on Amazon and Target. It is intended for ages 14 and up. That age range is absolutely correct. You need a steady hand and lots of patience to build it. I slowly unpackaged everything, wondering what I had gotten myself into. In the background, Katie chuckled evily.

One thing I liked about the kit was that you could lay the pieces on the paper templates, matching up the numbers with the instructions. This allowed me to have everything in one place, without having to stop and hunt for pieces during the process. Fair warning: the print on the instructions is miniscule, and there’s a bunch of tiny little paper signs to cut out too. I used regular-sized scissors and fumbled through, but smaller craft scissors would have produced cleaner cuts for sure.

One thing I did NOT like about the kit was the glue. The nozzle was always gushing, which endangered the fragile pieces. I finally resorted to using a paperclip to brush the glue on all the teeny weeny surfaces.

The kit also comes with a pair of plastic tweezers. I definitely had to use them! Not just for construction, but also setting up the interior of the shop. It was quite the adventure, folding the little bags, gluing the little handles on, and then navigating each of them on to the little slippery pegs!

There were a couple different types of books to construct as well. Some were just paper covers glued to foam pieces. Others were books you could actually open and turn the pages. Nice!

The advertised completion time for the kit is 3.5 hours. Well, it took me 5 hours and lots of complaining, squinting, moaning, and muttering quiet curses. At one point, I sent Katie a photo of my messy progress and bemoaned how crazy the kit was making me. She simply sent back this:

Like the kit Katie assembled, this little bookstore can be wired for lights. Buuuuuut I couldn’t figure out the “heat tube” part of the instructions, annnnnnd the little lightbox broke during construction. So I had to jerry-rig the bulb to the battery like some sort of miniature MacGyver. But in the end, there was LIGHT!

I would say the Mind-Find Bookstore kit by Rolife Hands Craft is mid-range in difficulty. If you are working on this with a kid, plan for lots of extra time and patience as most of the pieces are from scratch, the paper signs are small, and the instructions are a little vague. Ultimately, the results were cute, and this cheerful little bookstore will brighten any room or shelf!

Tigers on Tiptoe

Can you tiptoe your tiger through the forest without making a sound?

We recommend reading The Tiptoeing Tiger by Philippa Leathers (Candlewick Press, 2018, read here by DaddyRead2Me). When Tiger prowls the forest, the other animals NOTICE and move away. But not Little Tiger. No one is afraid of him in the slightest! So he contrives to sneakily tiptoe around the forest until he thoroughly terrifies someone. It doesn’t work with Boar, Elephant, or the monkeys…but Little Tiger might have met his match at the pond!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Construction paper and/or poster board
  • 2 brass fasteners
  • 2 craft sticks, approximately 3″ long
  • Scissors, tape, and box cutter for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Begin by decorating a small oatmeal container like a tiger. For added texture, we used a pair of wiggle eyes, a bit of self-adhesive foam for the nose, and twisteez wire whiskers, but you can also just use markers to add these features. The dynamic part of the project comes when you add the moveable back legs!

Use a box cutter to make small slices in the oatmeal container, then attach the tiger’s back legs to the body using brass fasteners. Next, attach two, 3″ long craft sticks to the legs, leaving plenty of room for you to grasp the sticks. To operate, move the sticks up and down while gently sliding the oatmeal container forward, and you have yourself a splendid tiptoeing tiger!

 

Get a Clue

Always searching for more escape room inspiration, Katie was delighted when her mom sent her a dandy little escape challenge that fit right in the palm of her hand. Though it was small, but packed a mighty punch! Take it away, Katie!


The Cluebox “Escape Room in a Box” is produced by iDventure Machine Factory and retails for around $40 on Amazon. There are three different Clueboxes available for purchase: Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, Davy Jones Locker and Schrödinger’s Cat. The suggested age range is 14+ and the estimated playtime is 60 minutes.

I tackled Schrödinger’s Cat. The wood puzzle box is packaged in a sturdy cardboard box that is covered with images with a funky steampunk motif, including a very cool cat. Inside the packaging is an informational note (in multiple languages) briefly describing the quantum mechanics experiments conducted by Erwin Schrödinger in the 1930s. You are tasked with figuring out how to rescue his cat from inside the wood puzzle box.

The escape room itself is a robust wood box with various gears, interesting sliding tabs, and is covered in hieroglyphics that one would rightly assume will be used to solve the mystery. I took some time to carefully examine the box, looking at all the parts and pieces. It didn’t take long before I found a note on one of the tabs that read “Start,” and it had me follow a series of arrows around the sides of the box to the bottom. There, the arrows stopped near tabs that signaled the start of the room.

The informational note also clearly states that all elements of the box should open smoothly, so you don’t need to force anything and no guessing is required. There is a website link that offers hints if you get stuck and are unable to move on. I always try to solve escape rooms without hints, but I did have to get a bit of assistance with one part (more on that later).

No spoilers, I promise! I methodically worked my way through the puzzles. After about 30 minutes, I got stuck on a brainteaser that I believed involved the strange eye staring from one side of the box. I twisted, tapped, and moved everything around and could not figure out what was going on with the eye. After about 20 minutes without making any progress, I reluctantly visited the hint website to get a tiny bit of help. Turns out I was right about the eye, and after working through the final riddle, I was able to successfully release Schrödinger’s cat. My total time to solve: 72 minutes.

The iDventure’s Clueboxes are a fun addition to the realm of escape rooms. The wood box is beautifully manufactured and the puzzles are a mix of relatively easy to quite difficult. I agree with the suggested age range and feel an adult would need to assist younger children. It is definitely designed for single players, though it could be a fun party game. One aspect I really like is the box can be reset to its initial state after a person finishes the escape room, which allows for others to participate in a future challenge. The solution compartment is also big enough to hold a gift certificate or little note, so you can hide a small present inside as an added bonus for escaping the room.

Cluebox is perfect for an hour or two of individual challenging fun, and it gets my seal of escape room approval!