A Box of Absurdities
Once upon a time, in the world of Jan van Haasteren, Jumbo the elephant decided to leave the zoo and go shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables (Jumbo Goes Shopping). For some reason, this surprised a lot of people. They fell down in shock. They drove their cars and bicycles into things. In short, chaos ensued. But that’s a fairly common event in van Haasteren’s world.
Jan van Haasteren is a popular and well-known Dutch comic strip artist, known for Baron van Tast and Tinus Trotyl, among others. Jan began creating his signature puzzles for Jumbo puzzles in the 1980s. Even though he is now in his mid-80s he continues to create puzzles. He works with two other artists to create hilarious and popular puzzles:
They have favorite characters that find their way into their puzzles:
His puzzles are designed and manufactured in the Netherlands from recycled cardboard. The puzzles come in large boxes. Honestly, I think I would prefer a smaller box because the bag of pieces only took up half the sturdy box. But I have to admit that a smaller box would not provide the picture detail I needed. I was very happy to see that the pieces have a linen finish and no puzzle dust. They are cut in a random grid pattern and align at all four corners. I didn’t have any problems with false fits. The fit is tight enough that I could easily move assembled pieces around. Using my Puzzle Scoop makes it even easier and the light and magnifying plastic helped when I needed to see more detail.
I started with the cars because there are a lot of pieces that are not obvious about where they go and getting these placed helped.
As I worked on the puzzle I realized it was like an onion – layers and layers, but without the tears. As I put several pieces together I would discover little bits of whimsy – things I didn’t notice until I looked more closely. Things like hands without bodies holding up things that don’t ordinarily need hands to keep them in place:
The famous shark fin that is in every one of his puzzles. . . love the periscope coming up from the sewer:
But perhaps my favorite is the “crook” standing in front of the wanted poster with his “swag,” surrounded by police, and no one seems to notice:
I enjoyed Jumbo so much that I started on The Missing Piece. I liked that it was filled with busy people and I thought the different colored buildings would break the 1000 piece puzzle into manageable areas. I was wrong. This puzzle was more challenging. There are a lot of similar looking windows, doors, and roofs.
But I got a kick out of an entire town looking for the missing puzzle piece. It warmed my heart. These neighbors are looking EVERYWHERE – in the trash, in the sewer – everywhere:
And meanwhile Jan himself is walking along the sidewalk spilling pieces everywhere and about to slip on a banana peel:
I’m not sure whether the “crook” is taking advantage of the general chaos and digging himself out of an underground dungeon or is doing his bit in the search for the missing piece.
I happily recommend Jan van Haasteren’s puzzles. They entertain at two levels – first the pleasure of assembling the puzzle and second the absurd whimsy.