NOTE: Don Bosco is the author of the award-winning LION CITY ADVENTURES series, about a society of children dedicated to exploring Singapore, making new friends and solving mysteries. This post is part of a series about the creative inspiration behind the books, the publishing process, etc.

What made Lion City Adventures, the first book in the series, such a thrilling book to write is that I wasn’t just trying to come up with a story. I was actually creating a game. Not a computer game or a board game, but a reading game for young readers that involved story puzzles.

Time to think

You’ll see that Lion City Adventures is really created around a series of puzzles that the young adventurers need to solve as they go around exploring ten of the city’s more (in my opinion) exciting attractions. These are activities that are fun and challenging in some way because they test your skill or ability to solve problems.

I had to work really hard to come up with the tricky brainteasers for each chapter, and that was a lot of fun in itself. Among other things, readers can help the characters figure out how to move things around to get the right combination, how to solve riddles, how to work out missing parts in old messages, and how to deduce which character was lying.

Get a prize

At the end of the book, you can work out how many points you scored, and there’s a certificate in the book which you can print and frame up and display with pride in your bedroom and show everyone else.

Yes! You have our permission to add your name to the certificate. If you choose to call yourself TOWERING UNICORN OF TOA PAYOH or GREAT JUMPING PONY OF JURONG, that’s fine with us too.

Where you belong

For young readers, every story they read is already a little game on its own. A story is pieced together from many parts. For instance, there are characters, many different types of them, some likeable, others highly annoying or even despicable, some shuffling about in the background and never having any real presence in the story. And then these characters are put through tricky situations, so that we can see how they respond.

As the story progresses, we start to see patterns. We connect the dots. Look for the final combination that will help us figure out what the ending will be. It is somewhat like a treasure hunt but in this case, as long as you finish reading the book, you’re sure to get the treasure. Yippy!

This reading experience makes us feel an emotional connection with the characters and the storyworld. We feel like we are among friends. We look forward to even more encounters. And so we keep reading on.

Children love books where the message behind the story is something fun and reassuring. Like, be brave. Be curious. Be helpful. Be happy. Believe in your own wacky ideas.

So get together with other brave, curious, helpful and happy people, and see what sort of adventures you can have together. That’s how children learn best, by piecing together interesting bits of information and using all this to work out their own answers.

They like being detectives. They get a great sense of accomplishment when they can play an active part in figuring something out. That’s the simple pleasure of the Lion City Adventures series. And at the very end, the final page, through all the fun, everyone will have somehow learnt something good.


Book 1: Lion City Adventures

Book 2: Secrets of the Heartlands

Book 3: Island of Legends

. . . . . . . . . .

Yes, SECRETS OF THE HEARTLANDS (Lion City Adventures, Book 2) has been nominated for this year’s POPULAR READERS’ CHOICE award. Please take some time to vote for your favourite books, and you might win a $50 voucher plus 1 year Popular card membership. For readers in Singapore only.

Vote and win here:

For updates about Don Bosco’s new book projects, visit the Super Cool Books website here.

DON BOSCO is the author of the LAST KID RUNNING interactive fiction series, published by Penguin Random House.

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