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Enigma: A Magical Mystery
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Enigma: A Magical Mystery

5.0 2
by Graeme Base

Bestseller Graeme Base harks back to his classic New York Times bestselling solve-the-mystery story The Eleventh Hour in an all-new book that will “puzzle” and entice young readers.

Enter a magical world in this warm, funny, and enduring story about the special relationship between a grandson and his grandpa—and their


Bestseller Graeme Base harks back to his classic New York Times bestselling solve-the-mystery story The Eleventh Hour in an all-new book that will “puzzle” and entice young readers.

Enter a magical world in this warm, funny, and enduring story about the special relationship between a grandson and his grandpa—and their love for magic.

Bertie Badger loves to visit the Retirement Home for Elderly Magicians and watch his grandpa perform magic tricks. But one day all the magicians’ props go missing, so Bertie sets off to investigate. Can he solve the mystery in time to save the show? This clever book will engage readers as they are challenged to solve the mystery along with Bertie, discovering where the missing props have gone by using a decoder included with the book that reveals the mystery.

Graeme Base, creator of Animalia and many bestselling and beloved books for children, conjures up an inventive, irresistible tale.

F&P level: S

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Akin to The Eleventh Hour, this über-puzzle of a picture book asks readers to crack codes and find hidden pictures, all in aid of solving a mystery relayed in rhyming quatrains. Young Bertie Badger arrives at the opulent country home of his grandfather, "a conjurer of note" known as Gadzooks the Great, anticipating an extraordinary magic show, but-horrors!-Gadzooks's and the other performers' props have disappeared. Readers could simply hunt for the missing objects, which Base conceals within elaborately detailed paintings, but then they would miss out on the tricky fun of mastering several codes also embedded in the book-not to mention that finding those hidden pictures without benefit of the encoded clues isn't easy, not even for alums of Where's Waldo?For the impatient, Base supplies a huge hint; where Eleventh Hour forced the desperate to break a seal to get answers, readers need not alter anything to avail themselves of help, making this volume a cinch to share. A set of bonus challenges will keep kids (and older siblings) poring closely over the pages for weeks, enthralled. Ages 5-10. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Michael Chabin
It is a treat, simply to open this book. It is beautifully designed and has a handsome typeface. The illustrations are gorgeous, sprawling across the page, rich with hidden detail and obvious charm. Best of all, the verse is sweet and patient and funny: "Her trick was reading minds, but now her own had gone astray—'Poor Polly's lost her crackers!' was the only thing she'd say." It seems Gadzookes the Great has lost his wand. Without it the greatest magician of his time cannot do magic. But who might have taken it? Could it be the Bear of Wrath or the floating panda Hoo Min Foo? Mistress Hypnosis perhaps or the terrible toothless tiger? Gadzooks own grandson Bertie investigates them all. Each is a magician of note and each has lost an essential magical tool. Though clues are scattered everywhere, Bertie does not solve the mystery. A timely confession does. Unfortunately the thief cannot remember where the stolen magical items are. It is up to the reader to discover that by searching the pages very carefully or deciphering the code, with the help of a code book cleverly built in to the back cover. A wonderful book! Reviewer: Michael Chabin
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Someone has stolen the props belonging to the residents of a retirement home for magicians, and Bertie Badger, the grandson of one of the illusionists, vows to find them. As he meets the performers, they each tell him a little about their specialty and what's missing. "My top hat, cape, and wand have gone, but there is worse to tell:/My precious magic bunny rabbit's disappeared as well!" Bertie discovers the thief, but it is left to readers to find the lost items hidden in the illustrations. Base's visual mystery books have delighted children for years, but this one has the added feature of a moving panel in the back cover that reveals a secret code. Children must turn dials to proper settings before it can be moved. The clues for setting them appear in the illustrations but are not at all obvious. With a little persistence, however, the target audience should be able to solve the puzzle. After readers crack the code, they can search for the missing items hidden in the art and decipher other messages found in the end matter. The book is not as philosophical as Base's Uno's Garden (2006) or as entertaining as Jungle Drums (2004, both Abrams), but it has the same style of colorful and detailed illustrations. For readers who don't want to decipher the codes, the story and pictures are satisfying enough to stand alone.-Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT

Kirkus Reviews
Bertie Badger undertakes a magical mystery tour to recover a cache of missing props. In his heyday, Grandpa Badger was a master magician, known as Gadzooks the Great. Now he lives at the Retirement Home for Elderly Magicians, surrounded by old colleagues. Whenever Bertie visits, Grandpa puts on a magnificent show. One day, Bertie arrives to find Grandpa and his fellow residents disconsolate; each has been robbed of a valuable prop (Grandpa's rabbit is missing). Bertie turns sleuth to question all the colorful ex-magicians about their losses. Their stories are as wild as their rooms, rendered in a crisp combination of watercolor, pencil and gouache. The mystery's solution should satisfy readers, who then have the opportunity to go back and find a certain story character hidden in each illustration. Then, Base's piece de resistance: The back inside cover opens like a secret chamber to reveal a secret-code challenge, with dials and symbols and letters and a magic button. Base's rhyming text is undeniably pedestrian, but his tableaux are stylish and packed with witty touches. (Picture book. 5-10)

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 12.30(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
5 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Graeme Base is one of the world’s leading creators of picture books. His alphabet book, Animalia, received international acclaim when it was first published in 1986 and has sold more than two million copies. Graeme lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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Enigma: A Magical Mystery 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a clever book with codes to figure out to solve the mystery. Graeme Base's artwork is nothing short of fantastic in its detail and imagination. My 9 year old granddaughter had fun solving this mystery.
pgcook More than 1 year ago
Another fantastic book by Graeme Base. The illustrations are divine and the story kept my children wanting to see what was going to happen next. They poured over the pages looking for clues and have returned to this book again and again looking for the hidden secrets on each page. A great book to read to younger children and older children will love trying to solve the mystery.