Tag Archives: popular culture

National Read a Book Day is September 6th!

Tomorrow is National Read a Book Day, so it will be a great day to unplug and unwind in a cozy chair.

There are some overlapping benefits between reading and puzzling. Both improve concentration and memory and lower stress and keep your brain active. Additionally benefits of reading are a more expansive vocabulary and glimpses to other times, places, and cultures.

Need some book recommendations? Goodreads is fantastic for every type of recommendation you may ever need, including books you should read and others you should avoid, with lists such as:

Pick up something new, reread something old, or try out something that’s been sitting on your shelves for ages. Whatever you do, read!

We’ve previously highlighted puzzles with a post on 5 Reasons You Should be Reading Game of Thrones and Book-Related Puzzles. Today here’s all of the Classic Book Puzzles we have, which come in a collectible packaging that looks just like a book on your shelf! It even has a magnetic closing.

Jack and the Beanstalk by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

The Queen’s Croquet by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

Romeo and Juliet by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

Huck Finn by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

Wizard of Oz by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces.

Gone with the Wind by Master Pieces. 1000 pieces. 

Wrebbit’s Return and the Spirit of Puzzle Designer Paul-Émile Gallant

As part of our new inventory this year, we’re happy to now have Wrebbit 3D puzzles back in stock! For any serious 3D puzzle fan, Wrebbit has the best three dimensional puzzles out there. Need some data to back up this claim? Wrebbit offers:

  • Larger models with more pieces
  • Fair prices for high quality materials
  • Sturdier structures with  new technology
  • High-quality illustrations that will knock your socks off

Wrebbit is committed to continuing the spirit of ingenious puzzle designer Paul-Émile Gallant, who created the famous Puzz 3D line in the 1990s. Gallant became a renowned toy designer, making 3D puzzles of famous landmarks that incorporated flexible foam pieces that were “rigid enough to be portable and beautiful enough for display.” In 2008, Gallant was recognized for his contribution to the toy world and was included in the Canadian Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

Sadly, Gallant passed away in September 2011, but his revolutionary visions paved the way for the new beautiful puzzles of Big Ben, the Taj Mahal, and even Hobbiton!

Check out these lovely new additions, perfect for any 3D puzzlers’ dream displays.

big ben wrebbit puzzlesAbove: Big Ben is 890 pieces and measures 18.9″ x 10.63″ x 28.74″ when assembled. Recommended for ages 12 and up. If these seems a bit intimidating, try starting with a smaller Big Ben 3D Puzzle – we have several from other brands, too!

lord of the rings puzzlesAbove: Citadel of Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings The Hobbit is 819 pieces and measures 17.52″ x 16.54″ x 25.98″. Want more of The Hobbit? We also have the Hobbit Collector’s Puzzle, a regular 500 piece jigsaw.

germany puzzles, germanAbove: Neuschwanstein Castle is a whopping 890 pieces and measures 21.95″ x 11.42″ x 15.26″. This castle in Germany is the subject of many jigsaw puzzles – from 550 pieces up to 4000!

February: Black History Month Jigsaw Puzzles

Activist Martin Luther King Jr., abolitionist Union spy Harriet Tubman, the first black MLB player Jackie Robinson, and abolitionist social reformer Frederick Douglass all appear in the 500pc puzzle.

Today, we wanted to share with you a few of our more specific Black History Jigsaw Puzzles. We’ve talked a lot in the past about how puzzles are a great learning tool and as always, really good for brain development in general. It’s also awesome how they can play a role in the cultural development and teaching, remembering or just enjoying some of the most historical moments and figures of our time. What makes puzzles even better? Most will last a lifetime, being put together and taken back apart over and over for new friends and new family to enjoy again and again.

What is Black History Month? It all began in the early 1900’s when when Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Rev. Jesse E. Moorland created an associations in order to raised awareness of the role that black people played in the shaping of America and the world—a role that had often been ignored or downplayed. Woodson also hoped that there would be a sense of pride instilled in the black community while he taught about their cultural background and heritage. In 1920, he helped a fraternity Omega Psi Phi create “Negro History Week” that took place during the month of February as a way to celebrate the birth of two men who helped carve out the future of Black Americans – Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas.

The Civil War lasted 4 years from 1861 to 1865. Marking 150 years later is this commemorative puzzle.

The intent of this month – and other history months like Women’s History Month and LGBT History Month – of course, is to raise awareness, spread educations and, perhaps above all, take a moment to recognize the incredible journey and challenges that minorities have overcome in this country (and others!). To learn more about black history, go here.

And here’s a great list of Black History Little Known Facts. Did you know that “Due to his acclaimed “Banana Boat” song, most people assume Harry Belafonte was born in the Caribbean; in fact, the internationally renowned entertainment icon and human rights activist was born in Harlem, New York.”

Coming up next week: Black Artist Jigsaw Puzzles… a look at some of the best works of art – and most popular puzzle images around – from well-known Black artists.

And of course, how could we not mention two of the most influential black people in music and popular culture? Happy puzzling everyone!

Bob Marley is credited with spreading Rastafarian and Jamaican music to a worldwide audience.

Michael Jackson has earned a place in musical history that not many have achieved, with several chart-topping songs and major influence in today’s pop music as well.

Puzzles for Fitzgerald Aficionados

If you are anything like me, you can’t wait for Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby coming out this May, even though historically they have failed. The Great Gatsby has a double charm—it’s an American classic, but it’s also adored by the average reader. It’s going to be a challenge to turn the introspective book into a successful movie, but let’s keep our fingers crossed and our hopes up. Here are some puzzles that I think Fitzgerald might like to do during breaks from writing if he were alive today. Here’s hoping he’ll also like the new take on his novel.

Martini Rossi Vermouth Bianco by Euro Graphics. $15.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 19.25” x 26.5”.

Afternoon Stroll by Clementoni. $15.99. 1000 Pieces. Finished size: 26.5″ x 18.75″.

Beautiful Peacock Garden – House Beautiful by New York Puzzle Co. $16.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20” x 27”.

Beary Patch Park by Buffalo Games. $14.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20” x 27”.

Spirits of the World by Piatnik. $16.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 26.5” x 17.4”

Classics – Sammy’s Playground by Master Pieces. $10.99. 500 pieces. Finished size: 14″ x 19″.


And a product that our girl golfer, Jordan Baker, from Gatsby might have liked: some ladies’ golf bridge cards:

Ladies Golf Bridge Set. $16.99. Features two decks of bridge size playing cards and come in sturdy, beautifully made boxes.







Holiday Gift Ideas: For Ages 8+

We have another collection of gift ideas for the children in your life, this time for ages 8+! Featuring a selection of popular items from Pixar and Disney, these puzzles are sure to be a favorite among the youngsters.

Real 3D Breakthrough Mickey Mouse by MEGA Puzzles. $21.99. 250+ pieces.

Peter Pan by Sunsout. $5.99. 100 pieces. Finished size: 10″ x 16″.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by USAopoly. $14.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 17″ x 24″.

Sonic the Hedgehog Shaped Puzzle by USAopoly. $14.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 24″ x 18.5″.

Mario Shaped by USAopoly. $14.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 11″ x 24″.

Real 3D Breakthrough – A Hug for Mother by MEGA Puzzles. $21.99. 250+ pieces.

Sporting Fun by Ravensburger. $9.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 19.25″ x 14.25″.

Animal Planet – Jungle Friends by Ravensburger. $11.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 14.45″ x 10.25″.

Carousel by Ravensburger. $9.99. 200 pieces. Finished size: 19.25″ x 14.25″.

Dragon Voyage by Cobble Hill. $11.99. 180 pieces. Finished size: 19″ x 12.5″.

Holiday Puzzle Series #4: For the Coca-Cola Collector

Know a Coca-Cola collector? We have a great selection of puzzles for the Coca-Cola enthusiast, from playing cards to 3D can models. Here are a few of our wonderful Coca-Cola product puzzles, so crack open a bottle while you decide which one you like best, or what might make a great present for a friend this holiday season!

Know any Coca-Cola history? The popular soft drink was was created in Atlanta, GA in 1886 by Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a local pharmacist. It was first sold for five cents a glass as a soda fountain drink. During the first year, sales averaged 9 Coca-Cola drinks per day. In 1998, the average was 606 million bottles per day worldwide.

A Gift for Santa (Cola-Cola) by Buffalo Games. $14.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20” x 27”.

Polar Bears by Buffalo Games. $14.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20” x 27”.

Coca-Cola by Buffalo Games. $14.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 27″ x 20″.

Thirsty Bears by Buffalo Games. $14.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 26.75” x 19.75”.

Reach for Refreshment by Buffalo Games. $14.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 26.75” x 19.75″.

The Collection by Springbok. $19.99. 1500 pieces. Finished size: 29” x 36”.

The Corner Store by Springbok. $16.99. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 24” x 30”.

Nellie Bly: A Closer Look

Nellie Bly is most famous for her extraordinary trip around the world. This journey was undertaken by Bly in an attempt to challenge the record of Jules Verne’s character Phileas Fogg in the novel “Around the World in 80 Days.” In 1889, a time when a woman’s place was considered to be the home, Bly’s travels had her as a passenger of ships, trains, rickshaws, camels, and even burros. Bly did beat Fogg’s record: in just 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes, Bly returned to a crowd of cheering people.

But this isn’t all that earned Bly her fame. She was a leader in women’s equality and this sometimes gets overshadowed by her exciting trip around the world. So what do you need to know about Nellie Bly to realize she’s one of the most awesome ladies in history? Actually, quite a lot. She was a leader in investigative journalism with a spirit that couldn’t be tampered or toned down by anyone.

This 300 piece puzzle turns into a game board - a fun way to play and learn all about the adventures of Nellie Bly!

Elizabeth Jane Cochran, the thirteenth and most rebellious child of the wealthy landowner, judge, and businessman Michael Cochran, would someday grow up to be a famous journalist under the pseudonym Nellie Bly (a name she chose from the Stephen Foster song). Bly’s family fell into financial ruin when her father died when she was just six years old, leaving behind no will to protect the children of his second wife, including Bly and four of her siblings.

From an early age, Bly was not afraid of controversy or standing up for women. She testified against her mother’s second husband during their divorce trial about his abuse and alcoholism. She attempted to find an independent living for herself that would also help her support her mother and went to train to become a teacher at age 15, but was forced to give it up after only one semester because of insufficient finances.

Bly worked for a few years in jobs that brought her little money and no recognition. Then, incensed by an article written by popular columnist Erasmus Wilson on how women belonged in the home cooking and sewing and the like, going as far as to call the working woman a “monstrosity,” Bly was compelled to write in an angry, spirited response signed “Little Orphan Girl.” Her fiery attitude and well-reasoned response actually impressed the editors; Wilson wrote an open letter to “Little Orphan Girl” to get her to present herself. She did, and was hired.

But this wasn’t yet a major breakthrough for women. After a few stories that contained substance, the editors demoted Bly to write on the things they deemed appropriate for a woman because her exposé on the conditions of female factory workers upset factor owners. Her new assignments were on flowers and cotillion dances. Bly found this unacceptable; she continued writing stories with meaning, but was rejected. She even traveled down to Mexico and reported on its culture and exposed political corruption, but this merited nothing. Her frank reporting was getting her in trouble. Fed up, Bly quit, writing a simple two weeks notice to Wilson and made her way to New York City, telling him to “look out for her.”

Wilson couldn’t have missed her if he tried.

In New York, Bly searched for six months until Joseph Pulitzer (of the Pulitzer Prize) hired her for New York World. Her first assignment was to write a feature story about the conditions inside the local insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. One of the first reporters to go undercover for a story, Bly made up an entire identity, faked insanity, fooled the psychiatrists, and got herself admitted. She stayed there for ten days.

Her articles on the asylum shocked everyone, revealing the abusive conditions these women were forced to live under, such as ice cold baths, cruel beatings, and meals made with rancid butter. It caused an absolute media frenzy and secured an $850,000 increase in the budget of the Department of Public Charities and Corrections and a reform of the institution. Bly’s work was finally starting to get the attention it deserved. She was a founding mother of investigative journalism, but she didn’t stop there.

She got herself landed in jail and hired by a sweatshop to uncover injustices and poor treatment of the vulnerable, voiceless people in those places. An advocate for social justice and a voice for the disenfranchised, Bly reported on corruption, shady lobbyists, and inadequate medical care given to the poor. Her report on the Pullman Railroad Strike in Chicago was the sole article to give a voice to those that were actually on strike. She always injects personality into her stories, giving her reactions, feelings, and observations along with the facts.

At 30, Bly retired and happily married industrialist 70-year-old Robert Seaman. When he died ten years later, she became president of a steel manufacturing company and
became a leading female industrialist of the time, setting a precedent for working conditions that included ensuring fair pay and health care. There are alternate claims, but some believe she went and invented the steel barrel that became the model for the widely used 55-gallon drum (others think the credit belongs to a man named Henry Wehrhahn). She did, however, invent  a stacking garbage can and a novel milk can. Eventually, however, the business went bankrupt due to embezzlement by employees. She returned to reporting and helped find homes for abandoned children, wrote on the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Convention, and stories Europe’s Eastern Front during WWI.

Basically, Nellie Bly did more than many of us can ever hope to do in terms of pioneering. And she did it in a time when it seemed even more impossible. But she remains an model of encouragement: in the present, women’s issues are at the forefront of our attention, and it’s inspiring to be reminded that with a determined, blazing spirit, we can make things happen and change the world.

Full texts are available if you are interested in reading Nellie Bly’s famous article on the asylum.