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.)