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I'm trying to find a book I remember from my childhood, of various mazes with different gimmicks and themes. I would have first read it around the mid or late 90's, and it seemed pretty new at the time, so it was probably published around that time or maybe a bit earlier. It was a children's book with a somewhat silly/wacky vibe, but I remember the mazes actually being quite challenging, at least for a kid's book.

There was a framing device where you were following around a friendly mad scientist/professor type as he went about his day, and each part of his day had a different maze to solve. For example, early in the book was a maze of highways and interchanges (some of them one-way) that you needed to solve so the professor could make his morning commute.

Other mazes in the book included an extra-twisty pretzel and French horn, the professor's brain, a map of a zoo/Botanic Garden, the array of rear-view mirrors on the professor's "maze-mobile" (not certain that's what it was actually called), and a mouse maze at the end of the book that listed the top time for each of the professor's mice, where you were supposed to guess what route each mouse took. (The joke for this maze was that the best time seems impossible, and when you looked at the solution in the back you'd see it's because that particular mouse "solved" the maze by going around it.) There were other mazes but I don't remember them.

I think the book was called "A-Maze-Ing Mazes", but googling shows a ton of books with that name and I haven't been able to find what I'm looking for.

I think the pages of the book were laminated so you could solve them with a dry-erase marker and then erase the solution to solve it again, but I'm not certain of that either.

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  • $\begingroup$ I remember a similar set of books from the late 1970s or early 1980s, whose mazes often had a style more like Escher, though usually without weird perspective trickery. $\endgroup$
    – supercat
    Commented Jun 21 at 20:26

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I think the book you're thinking of is Maze Mania, by Patrick Merrell.

Maze Mania front cover

This was first published in October 1996 (which fits your time window), and it's very hard to find much information about it online outside of some listings on second-hand book sites. The most useful source for confirming the details of the book is probably this Amazon review by 'D. Blankenship' who states in their review:

We have her (sic) a collection of 23 highly imaginative and rather unique mazes; all with different settings and themes. Included in this collection we find mazes designed around:

Cities
Schools houses
Numbers
The Human Brain
Cactus Gardens
Forrest (sic) and Gardens
Old Housing Complexes
Rail Roads
Pretzels (You have to be pretty good to figure this one out)
Ant Hills
Hills
Super Highways
Maps
And many, many more.

In this helpful list, the reviewer includes mentions of several of the mazes you described: a human brain, a pretzel, highways, and a garden. They then go on to say:

Each is cranked out in a charming way by "The Maze Machine" and each is introduced by funny and amusing comments.

This 'Maze Machine' may be the 'maze-mobile' of which you are thinking, and the tone certainly seems to fit that which you remember.

A second review on the same page also refers to a 'noodlehorn', which - given the silly vibe - may be a reference to a novelty French horn, like in one of your other remarks.

Either way, I want to find a copy of this book myself now!

After trying many search terms, this suggestion was finally found with a Google search for: "maze" book pretzel amazeing mazes - ironic given that didn't turn out to be the title. I think the inclusion of the more unusual 'pretzel' is key to the search - including references to 'mirrors' and/or 'french horn' actually led to lots of other publications that didn't fit the bill.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's it! Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Malcolm
    Commented Jun 20 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Malcolm Glad I could find it - looks intriguing! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Jun 20 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ If you find a copy of it, please search to see if it had a maze with unicycles and yellow ramps and post images of some of the mazes (low-res if needed for copyright reasons). I've been looking for that illustrated book for a long time. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/237134/… $\endgroup$
    – qwr
    Commented Jun 20 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ @qwr I got a copy from Amazon and the only factory in the book is the pretzel factory, which you don't actually see. No unicycles, sorry. $\endgroup$
    – Malcolm
    Commented Jul 8 at 22:15

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