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Enigma: A Magical Mystery
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Enigma: A Magical Mystery

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  394 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews

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 Retireme
Hardcover, 39 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Abrams Books for Young Readers
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Jack Kirby and the X-man
I really love Graeme Base puzzle books - and here is one for the new century!

The story is simply enough - but really that is not the point of this book.

You can't help comparing the puzzles to the classic Eleventh Hour... What I loved (and was fist-thumpingly frustrating) about Eleventh Hour was that you would determine the cypher to one set of codes, and it would simply point you to another challenge. This book does not have that level of complexity - once you find the cypher to the code the ans
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Bertie the Badger's Grandpa is a retired conjurer living in a retirement home for magicians and the like. One day Bertie comes to visit and see the magic show only to find that the residents have had their magic things stolen. Bertie's on the case, and goes to speak to each of them. Who stole the special magic props?

I'm a huge fan of Graeme Base and this is another delightful read. There are clues on every page amidst the gorgeous illustrations, a code to be cracked and the hidden props to find
Oct 08, 2008 Rachael rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-books
I must say that this is not Graeme Base at his best. Normally, I love his detailed artwork and I especially love his alliterative writing. The story in Enigma - the retirement home for old magicians, the missing magic tricks - had some promise, but I felt a little let down by the fact that it was the missing bunny who was responsible, and it all ended with a magic show. Just silly. On the other hand, I enjoyed the code breaking in the back of the book. Kept me entertained for a good hour or so, ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Heather rated it it was amazing
The story is told in rhyme and is about a little boy badger who visits his grandpa badger, a retired magician, and has to help his grandpa find items that have been stolen from him and the other magician animals living in an apartment house.

Each page has a hidden animal you have to find as well as nine hidden paw prints. At the end of the book is a secret code you have to decipher using clues in the pages of the book. I admit that I couldn't find the clues without looking at the publisher's note
Nov 06, 2011 lprater rated it really liked it
Part of literature unit:

When a magician usually has an item disappear, he knows exactly how to make it reappear. That is not the case for poor Grandpa, so his grandson, young Bertie begins to hunt for the thief. His journey takes him to several friends of grandpa’s who are also missing items and Bertie returns without finding the character responsible for all of the missing items. The mystery is solved when grandpa’s rabbit reappears and explains he is responsible for taking the items. The story
Apr 18, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing
This was a really cool book. The text was a fairly typical rhyming narrative about a child that helps his grandfather and the other creatures at his grandfather's nursing home to recover what was stolen from them. The parts of the book that kick it up a notch are the outstandingly detailed illustrations and the cipher code that readers need to use to discover the locations of the missing items at the end. Even gaining access to the code in the first place is a challenge as you need to reveal a ...more
Jul 26, 2012 Hannah rated it really liked it
Oooh, Graeme Base books. Such delicious eye-candy. The publication information page contains major spoilers. If you're faced with a child who wants to know what every single page, including the copyright page says, you might want to forewarn them. If one plans to read all the Graeme Base mystery books, this is a good one to start with. Being familiar with these mysteries, I was able to figure it out immediately (the other two were pretty challenging, actually.) It's a little long and wordy for a ...more
Jun 05, 2016 Emkoshka rated it liked it
Graeme Base doesn't write picture books; he writes picture puzzle poetry books. Worth bearing in mind if you want to keep a child entertained for a few hours cracking a cryptic code then hunting for images embedded in larger illustrations. A charming story about a retirement home for animal magicians and the quest to find their 'disappeared' magical items. Ends with the nice message that 'magic doesn't lie in wands or funny hats to wear/It only takes someone to dream, and someone else to share'.
Jan 19, 2010 Anna rated it it was amazing
My 5-yr old son got this from the library, but the entire family enjoyed it. In addition to the story, at the back of the book there's a physical lock which when the correct code is entered, a code is displayed which allows one to then decode a message. After my husband read the book to my son, he announced that it may take all 3 weeks (how long we have till the book is due back) to solve the code. My 9-yr daughter spent most of a day trying to figure it out and finally did much to our ...more
Ilana Waters
Sep 30, 2012 Ilana Waters rated it really liked it
There are so many things to love about this book, it's hard to know where to start! First there are the illustrations--I love how Base gave each resident of the retirement home their own persona and theme. The veiled Egyptian camel, the Russian Bear, the South American parrot . . . plus an adorable tale of a boy (badger) helping his grandpa.And then there are the rhymes that tell the story, along with the whole secret code. Definitely provides hours of fun for kids--and some grown-ups (ahem) ...more
Oct 27, 2012 Magila rated it really liked it
Another winner. This is less a mystery and sleuthing than the Eleventh Hour. It's more cryptographic actually, so if you have future code makers, or code breakers, this is their book.

I love the detail that Base hides in his pictures, little animals, paws, it's always something - and always fun. I wasn't quite as wowed by this as the Eleventh Hour, but the the Bison and Panda might be two of my favorite Base pages. The rhyming was cute, but also not quite as successful as some of his other books
Feb 03, 2009 Rachel rated it really liked it
Graeme Base has done it again - and I had pretty much lost hope. This one is akin to The Eleventh Hour (one of my very favorites -- an amazing book!) Totally awesome decoder at the back and terrific puzzle to solve - albeit a little bit too easy with a little bit too big of a hint. The rhyming story is quick and fairly to-the-point, finished before you get too tired of the rhythm and meter. David LOVES this book.
Robert Shupe
May 31, 2013 Robert Shupe rated it it was amazing
Imagination is crucial to a good book. Mr. Base delivers. He gives us a mystery to solve with young badger in a retirment home for magicians. It flows and is creative for all ages. His illustrations are such a joy and beautiful. The mystery is creative and a blast to solve. He gives a hint but if possible I highly recommend you read and reread and solve it on your own. Take notes and it will come to you. Enjoy and escape.
Feb 07, 2015 Shelli rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I remember when I was a kid reading the Eleventh Hour over and over again, looking for all the little mice hidden in the pictures. Sadly, as an adult I don’t have the patience or time to do that, kids however will love this book. Enigma is work of mystery, and you the reader attempt to solve the magical code concealed throughout the story. As always Graeme Base’s illustrations are stunningly detailed, brightly-colored masterpieces.
Jan 11, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it
I was hoping for the same level of difficulty of hidden clues and codes found in The Eleventh Hour. This one is not as tough, but is still enjoyable. It has only one code, and uses some picture clues to help you find the decoder key. But there are still plenty of fun hidden things to look for. The artwork is great fun.
Catherine Woodman
This book has a ll the lovely illustration that you would expect from a Graeme Base book--large, lush, textured. The story is almost non-existent, but would almost certainly be overlooked by a young reader, and the book would be best taken out of the library than owned, but would be good to read to a toddler.
Timalee Guetterman
Apr 14, 2013 Timalee Guetterman rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
This book gets 4 stars not for being the best story in the world, but for the fun factor of the book itself. The entire story is told in rhyme, which is fun to read, and my kids loved solving the secret decoder puzzle in the back of the book. They are still busy trying to find all Enigma's footprints hidden throughout the pages!
Aug 19, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I love Graeme Base's books. He is so clever because his books have hidden pictures and clues that add another dimension to his stories. In this book you need to find all the stolen magic tools/accessories plus at the end you can crack the code if you find all the right symbols. What fun for kids and adults.
May 31, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
I'm now learning to share some of my coworkers' love for Graeme Base. This book is all about breaking secret codes and even includes a decoder in the book that was too complicated for the librarians (myself included) to figure out how to use, so absolutely perfect for kids enamored with writing secret notes in code that grownups can't break.
May 09, 2011 Amy rated it liked it
Genre: Picture book, mystery, problem/solution story
I really enjoyed this story and the mystery solving the reader does. The illustrations are wonderful and hold hidden clues as to "who did it". I think children will enjoy hearing this story or reading it as they become involved in the detective work.
Sep 10, 2011 Lucius rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Fun for daughter and father. The mystery was tough enough that we had to use the cheat provided in the back. I almost broke down and used the Internet, but we persisted and figured it out ourselves. What I appreciated was the fact that by the end of the story, my daughter was so intent on decoding all the messages, she spent a couple more hours getting all that information.
Feb 17, 2009 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: code breakers
Someone has stolen magic show objects from each resident in the old folks home and grandson badger is determined to discover the culprit and items. While the illustrations aren't as closely tied into the mystery as in "The Eleventh Hour," the puzzles are none the less intricate and difficult. A creme-de-la-creme of the I-Spy variety. Edgar Nominee '09
May 03, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it
All of Graeme Base's books are absolutely stunning from the story to the illustrations. The story is wonderful and only exceeded by the gorgeous illustrations. This book can be read cover to cover but then it is also fun to go back and solve on the hidden puzzles.
Apr 03, 2009 Liana rated it really liked it
I love puzzles :)

This one didn't have the variety and complexity of "The Eleventh Hour," but it's still a fun little thing to do. I love seeing how much he can incorporate into a drawing.

And Avery, at 3, was able to get something out of it, too. Bonus!
Lisa Jones
Aug 19, 2009 Lisa Jones rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile
An appealing mixture of rhyme, mystery and humor for children. However, it was the code solving opportunity that prompted me to review this book. The artwork was not as rich as his popular classic Animalia, but the puzzle element proved to be a formidable challenge.
Jun 16, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
Graeme Base is my favorite children's writer/illustrator, so I had to check this mystery book he wrote. I went through the entire book several times trying to crack codes, find hidden objects and figure out who 'did it'. I can't wait to add this to my library!
Aug 15, 2009 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Graeme Base writes such fascinating stories with mysteries, hidden pictures and puzzles woven throughout. His illustrations are bright and colorful and very intricate and the puzzles are tricky, but not too tough for children. I've really enjoyed reading his books.
Unlike "The Eleventh Hour", this mystery is a lot more manageable. The interactive element this time is a decoder in the back, which helps you locate all the stolen items. As usual Base has beautiful images, which accompany a great story.
Mar 10, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I love the detailed illustration and all the different animal characters. I just didn't like the story. It was lacking depth. Less is really more in the respect. The pictures are so detailed that they create their own story.
Aug 26, 2009 Kristen rated it it was amazing
I'm a big ol' geek for Graeme Base puzzle books. Loved Eleventh Hour, so I got all giggly when I saw this one. And, yes, I did pour over all the details and found myself way too excited when I "cracked the code" at the back of the book.
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Will this work as a read aloud? 1 7 Feb 10, 2010 11:44PM  
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Graeme Rowland Base is a successful Australian author and artist of picture books that have been sold internationally. He is perhaps best known for his second book, Animalia published in 1986, and third book The Eleventh Hour which was released in 1989.
He was born in England but moved to Australia with his family at the age of eight and has lived there ever since. He attended Box Hill High School
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