Peggy Puzzles - Volume One
BearManor Media Q & A
Author/Illustrator Peggy Adler
Q. How did you come to write your first puzzle book?
A. My Dad, Irving Adler, was a teacher, and then a prolific author of books on science and mathematics, who loved recreational math. And so I grew up surrounded by (and loving) all sorts of mathematical games & puzzles. In the mid-1950s, Dad decided he wanted to write a book based upon “Sam Loyds Cyclopedia of 5000 Puzzles” and after a prolonged, diligent search for the book, which was published in 1914, he found one that was in excellent condition. But by then, he was writing six books a year and did not have time for a Loyd based book. And so, in 1961, when I was all of nineteen, he turned the project over to me – and eventually served as my mathematical consultant.
Q: When did you actually go to contract for your first puzzle book?
A. In 1961, I went to contract with New York’s John Day Company to write and illustrate The Adler Book of Puzzles and Riddles, Sam Loyd up-to-date. They already knew me, as I had been illustrating for them since 1958. The book was published in 1962 to critical acclaim, with a review and one of my illustrations in the New York Times’ Sunday Book review section, where it was called, “A great wit sharpener for the whole family”. Though since I was a young unknown, the publisher insisted on having my Dad, who had a following, listed as co-author. When the sequel was published the following year, Dad wrote the foreword, where he “confessed” to have merely been my technical consultant on the first book,. And so authorship of The Second Adler Book of Puzzles and Riddles was in my name alone.
Q. When did you write your third puzzle book?
A. In 1976, an editor at New York’s Franklin Watts contacted me to say the United States was going to me “metricized” in 1981. Thus, Watts wanted me to write and illustrate a book that taught the metric system through mathematical games and puzzles. Dad came for a visit and gave me a one day crash course in the metric system – and once again, was cited as my co-author. The book, titled Metric Puzzles, was published in 1977. Math Puzzles followed in 1978 and Geography Puzzles rounded out the set in 1979. Despite excellent, on-going sales, these three, along with my first two, were put out-of-print in the mid-1980s.
Q. How did you come to bring them back to life over forty years later?
A. In April 2022 I went to contract with BearManor Media for my book, Pallenberg Wonder Bears - From the Beginning and in the course of casual correspondence with the publisher learned that he, too, loved puzzles. So I sent him some. And he came back with a delicious offer. If I would be willing to change the names of all of the characters in my puzzles, who were named after my kids, other close family members, friends and neighbors -- to the names of characters from Old Radio Programs, Movies and TV – or the actors, actresses and animals who portrayed them -- he would republish all five of my puzzle books in two volumes.
Q. Which books are in Volume One?
A. Peggy’s Puzzles - Volume One is comprised of four distinct parts. Part One of Volume One has all of the puzzles originally published in The Adler Book of Puzzles and Riddles. Today, the puzzles and their illustrations remain the same. Only the names of the characters that populate the puzzles have been changed to reflect Old Time Radio, Movies and TV. Part Two of the book is filled with the brand new mathematical games and puzzles, created by me for the 1963 sequel to my 1962 book and Part Three, of Geography Puzzles from my 1979 book of that name. And just as in Part One, the names of all the puzzles’ characters have been changed to reflect Old Time Radio, Movies and TV. Last, but certainly not least, is the book’s Part Four, Games My Father Taught Me, which is comprised of a few of my favorite recreational, mathematical games, which I learned as a child from my Dad.
Q. What will come next?
A. Why, Peggy’s Puzzles - Volume Two of course -- which will be published later this year.
Q. What will be in that book?
A. Metric Puzzles and Math Puzzles, also recast with the names associated with Old Time Radio, Movies and TV.
Q. How did you come up with the names for both books?
A. In late 2019, I became a member of Mensa and every month since then have supplied a puzzle and illustration from one or another of my five puzzle books to my Mensa Chapter’s newsletter. They, in turn, began to call their puzzle page, Peggy’s Puzzles.
Q. You say that both of your puzzle books have a dual purpose. What is that?
A. Both books are lavishly populated with my black and white illustrations, which give puzzle enthusiasts an immersive, art infused experience. They just need to grab a box of Crayola ® Colored Pencils, for fun filled days and nights -- educationally, mathematically and artistically.