The first in a series of illustrated children’s books, aimed at encouraging children to take an interest in visiting museums, has been launched by an independent group of adventure-seeking artists, just in time for the summer holidays.
Riddle of the White Sphinx is the first of the ‘Hidden Tales’ – a series of adventure stories with inbuilt treasure hunts, where children are invited to trace the journey of characters, follow clues, crack codes and uncover a hidden artefact located somewhere within their city.
More than 300 young bookworms attended the launch event at the Historic Sedgwick museum on 29th June, where they were joined by author Mark Wells, producer Sorrel May and illustrator Jennifer Bell.
Attendees were able to get their hands on a pre-release copy of the book, as well as take part in themed activities and competitions being held across the museum – though many were seen heading into town, eager to get stuck into the treasure hunt.
Speaking about the inspiration behind the book, author Mark Wells said that he hoped the book would instil a “spirit of adventure” in all those who read it.
“When you open a book or step out your front door, there are so many things to discover – but you have to open your mind to see them,” said Wells. “The Hidden Tales is all about going outside and embarking on a real-life adventure, one where you physically visit places and work collaboratively with others to solve a mystery together.”
To find out more about the inspiration behind the Hidden Tales, check out my interview with the author.
The book follows the adventures of two children, Nina and Leo, who discover a dark secret lurking in Cambridge after they hear a mysterious, bodiless voice, calling out to them from a museum exhibition.
The story guides readers on a journey through the city streets, to locate secret portals in seven of the city’s historic museums, identify a trapped historic figure and discover the artefact that binds them there.
Want to know more? Click on the image below to open up a handy Hidden Tales infographic for a rundown of how the book works.
Speaking at the launch event, producer Sorrel May said: “Seeing so many children and their families gather for the launch of the Hidden Tales was a wonderful feeling. The excitement on the faces of the children as they opened up their new books made all the hard work we had put into the project over the last two years feel worth it.”
It’s not just children who couldn’t wait to see what the book had in store, check out my video review below:
The launch was also attended by a small group of lucky ticket holders chosen from schools around Cambridge, who were given a special tour of the Sedgwick with the first clues to the treasure hunt whispered to them over the museum’s audio guides.
“The launch was really fun,” said Kim Wheeler, a trained teacher, and one of the many Cambridge locals who attended the event. “It was great to see so many things for the children to get stuck into, to leave them raring to start the puzzles in the book afterwards.”
“I really love how the clues you need are embedded in the story,” she continued. “It makes you dig deeper and think about the writing more. It would be great for getting children to use their comprehension skills in a really meaningful way.”
If you missed out on the launch, you can still get a copy of the book online or from Heffers bookstore. The Hidden Tales are also planning a series of fun and immersive events relating to the launch throughout the summer – check out the website for more information.