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Major Fun Awards
Major Fun Award 2010
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Might I suggest that before you read further you refer to a review I wrote about two years ago, called “Dot’s Amazing“? Apparently, I just might.
Today, I am pleased to inform you that since that review or Dot-to-Dotty friend David Kalvitis has produced an impressively playworthy passel of new, and arguably more amazing Dot-to-Dot books, introducing yet more puzzling works of dot-connecting art.
With his most recent additions, the variety of puzzles now includes: 2 page spreads with up to 1,490 dots, ABC Sets where you have to connect labeled sets in numerical order, Alpha Dots where, instead of Dots, you connect words in alphabetical order; the significantly challenging Arrows puzzles where you navigate thru an entire page of arrows, the often exacerbating Compass puzzles where you connect dots according to compass directions (make one mistake and you’re likely to find yourself connecting the dots on your walls), the Symbols puzzles where you connect different sets of symbols, and the Numbers puzzles where you find yourself attempting to connect an entirely dotless page of many, many numbers.
If you haven’t tried any of his amazing Connect-the-Dots puzzles, don’t worry, no matter which of his now 10 different books you purchase, you will find yourself gleefully connected to a series of satisfying and always surprising challenges that redefine the very nature of the Connect-the-Dots puzzle. If you have already gone through a book or two or several many, then you’ll need no further incentive to explore his latest contribution to Connect-the-Dotly lore. Kalvitis’ puzzles are no mere child’s play (though some mere children might think so), they’re art. And they’re fun, too.
Major Fun Award 2007
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It takes an artist to make a simple children's puzzle, like Connect-the-Dots, and transform it into something worthy of mature, adult-worthy consideration. A real artist.
And that's just what David Kalvitis is, an artist. And that's just what he's accomplished with his many Dot-to-Dot books.
Let me give you a few examples.
Stars puzzles: You start at number 1, as you would expect, and continue connecting dots in order until you come to a star. Then you have to look for the next number, which could be anywhere else in the puzzle, and continue from that number to the next star. And on and on, number-to-number-to-star. Jumping around from place to place on the puzzle, you really have no idea what you're drawing, sometimes until the very last star.
Arrows: You see this big field of arrows - no dots at all. Just arrows. So there's absolutely no visual hints about what the puzzle is about. You look for a circled arrow and start there, following where it points until you come to another arrow, and you take off in that direction.
Compass: Here, you get nothing but an array of dots, with a few symbols sprinkled in hither and yon. You look for a star. And, then read the directions printed above the puzzle. And I do mean directions. Like, from the star, go: N, and then Wx2 (two dots west), and then SWx2, and then on and on and on, and if you do it exactly right, you'll end up at an A. And then, from the A, you start on the next line of instructions....
For an elementary school teacher, the different puzzle types involve skills that are closely tied to the mathematics curriculum. For the rest of us, they are an invitation to return to a deeply satisfying, often remarkably peaceful pastime.
These are but three of the innovative, challenging and inviting variations of connect-the-dots Kalvitis has created for us. And, if you're a social puzzler, it turns out that many of them can be solved cooperatively - especially the big puzzles, or puzzles like the Star puzzles that you solve in segments.
There are five volumes of the "Greatest Dot-to-Dot" series, so far. The first four are a great introduction to the wide variety of puzzle types. The fifth volume is most appropriately called "Super Challenge," where you'll find puzzles that span two pages and hundreds and hundreds of dots. There are also four volumes of Kalvatis' Newspaper Dot-to-Dot puzzles - smaller, but every bit as innovative.
Each puzzle is a work of art in its own right. When you complete a puzzle, you are rewarded with images that are themselves often surprisingly vivid, sometimes rich in detail, sometimes spare and subtle. Often drawn in perspective. Never stiff. Never blocky. Always surprising.