Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Curious Mysteries of Eli Marks by John Gaspard

Hot off the press! The Curious Mysteries of Eli Marks is a fabulous collection of [try to] solve-it- yourself mysteries. Aimed at upper-elementary and middle-grade readers, author John Gaspard has created a wonderful book that encourages readers to apply logic to solve mysteries encountered by the main characters. Eli lives with his Aunt Alice and Uncle Harry and as he starts a new school, a chance encounter with Nathan leads to the beginnings of a great friendship (and a shared interest in magic tricks). 

Eli makes another great friend when attending a magic club in the back room of Uncle Harry's magic shop. Cecilia used Eli as a volunteer to demonstrate a trick and from then on, Eli, Nathan and Cecilia were inseparable. Each chapter in the book presents a mini-mystery that Eli and his friends help solve. There are enough clues for a careful reader to solve (and I like that there are some empty pages before the solution to discourage peeking!).

Eli Marks reminded me of the Encyclopedia Brown books I so enjoyed as a child. I think Gaspard's books are a great bridge between beginning chapter books and young adult mysteries--it can be very hard to find books that offer a more challenging read without adding inappropriate content. As Eli and his friends solve mysteries, they also learn more about friendship and how to handle a bully. Eli's aunt and uncle offer a wonderful model of nurturing and wise parental figures.

I especially liked the overarching storyline with magic tricks woven throughout. The author includes a handbook ("Harry's Magic Emporium"), in the back of the book for youngsters to try their hand at the tricks themselves. Each trick is explained with the help of diagrams and step-by-step instructions. What a great way to develop an interest in magic for a new generation! 

I highly recommend The Curious Mysteries of Eli Marks and I hope more adventures of the young sleuth will be forthcoming! This book would make a great addition to any home or school library. Grab a copy today for the magic or mystery-loving youngsters in your life!

If you are looking for Gaspard's other titles featuring Eli Marks, you can read all about them on his website. You can also check out the Eli Marks podcast. Lots of great material to keep you in suspense this summer!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Curious Mysteries of Eli Marks from Reedsy Discovery for the purpose of review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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