Score: 93/100 (9.3 out of 10)
Michael Cook has consistently proven himself to be one of the most prolific and well-rounded authors to come our way, making waves in fiction, non-fiction, and even poetry. Cook has a heart for education and learning, and it really shows with works like this activity book.
Passamaquoddy Legends Puzzle Book Vol. 2: Lox the Mischief Maker is what we'd consider an educational activity book intended to accompany and enhance your understanding of the book Passamaquoddy Legends, a tremendous collection of culturally-significant stories passed on by the Passamaquoddy people who long called Maine their home. This particular activity book focuses on the second part of the source text which focused on the misadventures and misdeeds of the mischievous Lox.
It would be unfair and incomplete to review this activity book without rereading the source text, so we'll cover that for context.
Who is Lox? Well, if it peaks your interest, Lox shares a lot of similarities to the Norse god Loki. He may have even been directly inspired by Loki when the Vikings interacted with the Native American Indians in Newfoundland, Greenland, and, of course, the North American continent itself. So, you may be more familiar with this character than you think.
Lox is a lot of things, but he's often called the “Indian devil.” One of the unique aspects of him in many of his stories is that he apparently rose from the dead and is now unkillable/immortal. Lox is very often mutilated and inflicted with injuries that would kill a normal person, but he never dies. Lox even mutilates himself and “kills” himself on some occasions such as when he cuts both his feet off because he thinks they'll “talk” and give up his guilt or when he deals himself a gruesome and seemingly fatal wound just to scare and terrorize some hapless creatures. He seems to do this as a prank.
Speaking of pranks, Lox doesn't seem to act maliciously for evil's sake, he seems to do it because it brings him joy. That's something we really took away from Lox's stories: he's actually not pure evil. He's more like a clown or a prankster. Yes, he did behead a woman and throw her head in a boiling pot to hide the evidence, but that was one case. His actions are not usually so brutal toward others, they're more comical.
Being a magician, he often transforms himself into various creatures. His favorite form seems to be the wolverine, a creature with a fearsome reputation among the Passamaquoddy people. His second favorite form seems to be the raccoon, a sneaky, shifty creature. Lox in his animal forms is more rude than evil, deciding not to show courtesy to a crane ferryman who is letting his ego get the best of him.
So, we've gotten some context on what this section of the source material, let's get into the activity book itself.
The activity book mostly accomplishes its goal of reviewing the source material. Remember the story of Lox the raccoon and the bear? Well, there's a fill-in-the-blank activity to review that. Remember the Mahtigwess the rabbit story? Well, there's a brain-busting maze activity about that too. We had a lot of fun particularly with the fill-in-the-blank, crossword, and word-puzzle activities, even when they included such names and terms like Begemkessiek, Qwahbeetis, and Wiwillnekq--not things you'd immediately think to plug into boxes. But this book does a good job at familiarizing you with the characters and the terms.
The more familiar you are with the stories in Passamaquoddy Legends, the easier some of these become. A good example is the crossword puzzle “Lox Told a Lie” which provides useful hints based on the text.
If we had any complaints at all, it was with the maze-type activities. They seemed borderline ridiculous or absurd in their difficulty. Maybe we just lacked the brain-power and patience at the time to endure them. They're pretty much the equivalent of when your extension cord or water hose gets tangled cause someone decided to just bent it up into a ball and throw it on the side somewhere. However, we know there are some next-level people out there who will find joy in penciling their way out of those mazes.
Another issue we had was that the numbers, for whatever reason, looked so much smaller and blurrier than the rest of the book. So, it was sometimes hard to see the corresponding numbers without zooming in a whole lot.
Other than these small things, this activity book excels at what it was intended for: to teach people about the incredible culture of the Passamaquoddy people.
Check it out on Amazon!