Cristina Smith, Rick Smith, Lauren McCall
Post Hill Press (2019)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (6/19)
“Animal Wisdom Word Search” by Cristina Smith, Rick Smith, and Lauren McCall is the latest book in the Yoga for the Brain series created by Cristina and Rick Smith. I’ve read several of the books in this series and it’s always fun to see how Cristina and Rick put their unique spin on the word search, one of the pillars of the puzzle world.
In this latest book, Lauren McCall an animal communication instructor and author, brings her animal wisdom to the table to inspire, encourage and celebrate our relationships with animals. In her introduction, Lauren asks, “How do we talk to the animals?” There are probably as many different answers to that question as there are animals! You know that special way you and your beloved pet seem to know what the other is thinking - little nuances that put you on the same page. For instance, my cat, Fred and I communicate in many ways, but the way he gets straight to my heart is by winking at me! We’ll be sitting across the room from each other and all of a sudden he’ll wink. Then I wink back, and this continues until one of us (usually Fred) finds something else to do. It’s so heartwarming!
These types of communications are featured in each puzzle in “Animal Wisdom Word Search,” each page highlighting a different animal, a few interesting tidbits about the species, and a transcript of Lauren’s communication with this animal. The conversations are candid and enlightening, with many species often wondering why we humans behave as we do! An example of the communication between Lauren and Indie the Cat (page 18):
“Lauren: I want you to know that I love you very much.
Indie: Me too. I feel really happy when we are together. We are buddies, friends.
Lauren: Yes, we certainly are. When I go out to work, do you like it when I leave the radio on?
Indie: Yes, but I like it better when you are home.
Lauren: Me too. Unfortunately, I do have to work. It’s one of those tedious human things I have to do.
Indie: Yes, humans have a lot of odd things they do.
Lauren: Like what?
Indie: Laundry. You have to take your clothes off to wash. I don’t. I wash and wear my fur!”
As to the puzzles themselves, they progress in difficulty with puzzles 1-10 being the easiest, the words spelled forward in either horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines. Puzzles 11-60 are more advanced with the words appearing in backward as well as forward formation. The word list for each of the puzzles come Lauren’s communication with the featured animal, the leftover letters provide a bit of animal wisdom at the end of each game. I gotta say, Rick Smith is a puzzle guru. As stated, puzzles 1-10 are the easiest, but even those present some challenges (in a good way) and definitely call for the puzzler to do some “yoga for the brain!” Sometimes the words just jump out at you. Other times you may find yourself looking letter-by-letter. It’s interesting to note what our brains focus on and see first.
Overall, I found “Animal Wisdom Word Search: Yoga for the Brain” by Cristina Smith, Rick Smith and Lauren McCall to be a delightful elevation from the standard word search puzzle books. Fun facts about the animal world combined with the stimulating exercises to keep your mind sharp, I recommend this book to all yogis, puzzle enthusiasts and animal lovers!