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Enigma: A Magical Mystery Hardcover – October 1, 2008


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Enigma: A Magical Mystery + The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery + The Water Hole
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 5
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081097245X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810972452
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 9.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Base, the creator of The Water Hole (2001) and Uno’s Garden (2006), applies his hallmark lush artistry to this puzzle/picture book. Rhyming quatrains follow young Bertie Badger as he searches for his grandfather’s missing magical props. Each two-page spread opens up to Bertie in a different room featuring a different performer: Vlad, the Bear of Wrath; Miss Poodle, the Mademoiselle of Mime; Hin Min Floo, Lord Pandamonium. All, it turns out, are missing their favorite magical artifacts. Eventually, the rabbit Enigma fesses up, claiming he was tired of being the one pulled out of the hat and wanted to perform his own tricks. The challenge to uncover the whereabouts of the objects hidden throughout in the art, as well as a call to figure out each character’s country of origin, all but guarantee multiple readings. A fold-out decoder in the back of the book helps decipher the clues, which some children, as well as the adults they ask, will need help with. Young magicians and puzzle-lovers alike will be thoroughly engaged. Grades 2-4. --Ian Chipman

More About 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.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 23 customer reviews
Nice story and artwork is magnificent.
Melody A. Atwood
Children will be able to read the book for themselves at about age 8/9, and it will be fun (and still 'cool') for children up to about age 10.
Lori
I LOVE Graeme Base and if you are not familiar with him or his books, you should be.
Shawna Doyal

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. Rosenquist on October 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
To date, Animalia, The Eleventh Hour, and The Waterhole are my favorite of Graeme Base's offerings. Animalia and The Waterhole are read frequently in our home to teach ABCs and 1-10 counting as well as observation skills, and also for some good old fashioned fun reading aloud with fun and different voices!!

My spouse and I enjoy reading The Eleventh Hour because of all the mysteries to solve - the hidden images, the hidden puzzles, and the clues interspersed between text and illustration.

I was excited to see the newest offering, Enigma. I immediately signed up to pre-order. I am grateful that I did! This book is wonderful! The rhyme is similar to the text in Base's other books - occasionally forced, but still fun to read! Perhaps it's because of all the time I've spent pouring over the Eleventh Hour, but many of the hidden clues were easy to find and decipher in this book.

Our elementary-school-aged children find the mystery in this book to be perfect! One is even trying to break the cipher without resorting to opening the key in the back of the book.

The story is engaging and entertaining. Young Bertie Badger goes from room-to-room in the Entertainers' retirement home to solve the mystery of the missing props. Each page, each entertainer, represtents a different country. Like Animalia, like The Waterhole, like so many of Base's other books, the details of the backdrops add significantly to the richness and the texture of the tale he weaves.

If you're looking for Base's best mystery book - buy the Eleventh Hour. If you're looking for a fun mystery with a cipher-code to break, great for an elementary reader, buy this book! It has become a treasured addition to my Graeme Base collection.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Shawna Doyal on December 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I LOVE Graeme Base and if you are not familiar with him or his books, you should be. His books and art work is phenominal. This is my daughters favorite book by Base followed by Animalia. She likes to find the hidden pictures on each page. This book has a code you have to unlock at the end of the book and it is so much fun. My daughter is 5 and she has me read it to her at least 3 times a day. This is a wonderful book and I swear it will be a good investment to any book lover.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. Whittaker on January 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Graeme Base is easily my favorite children's book author/illustrator, and 'Enigma' provided my daughter's 3/4th grade combo class one of the most delightful hours of the entire school year! I purchased 3 copies of the book so all the kids could be close enough to see the beautifully detailed illustrations, made 25 copies of the coded message and the key, then went in and read the book to the class one morning. Afterwards, the class broke up into groups of 4 and began deciphering the coded messages, passing the 3 books among the groups to find the hidden objects where the decoded messages said they would be. It was a race to the finish, and I easily had as much fun as the kids did! Graeme you're an absolute treasure! After you fall in love with 'Enigma', make sure you also grab 'The Discovery of Dragons' and, best of all, 'The Worst Band in the Universe'. (I've been known to read that one even without kids around!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lori on September 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book, I read it to my 7 & 4yr old nieces who love it, while the words were a little advanced for the 4 year old she understood the story overall, I would recommend it for boys and girls from 5yrs old up. Children will be able to read the book for themselves at about age 8/9, and it will be fun (and still 'cool') for children up to about age 10.

I thought this book was really lovely, with a lovely message to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dienne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Bertie Badger loves visiting his Grandpa at the Retirement Home for Elderly Magicians because he always gets treated to an impromptu magic show. This time, however, he is in for a disappointment as Grandpa's magic want, hat, cape and even his magic bunny have all disappeared. Not only that, but as Bertie goes from room to room interviewing the other retired magicians, he finds that their magical accessories have also disappeared. Bertie vows to solve the mystery, but, alas, he fails to do so before the culprit reveal himself. And worse, said culprit can't remember what he did with all the magical implements. But never fear, Bertie's backpack just happens to contain replacement items and the show goes on.

In true Graeme Base style, there is much going on in these pages and much to absorb and delight the eyes. Solving the mystery is actually the least notable part of the adventure. As you might expect, all the missing items are hidden within the richly illustrated pictures if only you are observant enough to find them. And should you need help, you need only crack the code the culprit used for his notes. To crack the code, you will need to unlock the decoder at the end. That, in turn, can be done if you find the answers hidden in one of the pictures (with a hint hidden in another picture). And when you've finished all that, there are still more secrets to reveal, such as the prints left behind by the culprit and deducing each character's hometown. All-in-all, hours of puzzle-solving fun for the intrepid young (or old!) mind.

This book doesn't pack quite the wallop that "Eleventh Hour" did. The "mystery" solves itself before the book is finished. There are not nearly as many puzzles to solve or different types of codes to unravel.
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