________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 8 . . . . December 5, 2008

cover Gotcha! Mystery Hunters: 18 Amazing Ways to Freak Out Your Friends.

David Acer. Illustrated by Stephen MacEachern.
Elizabeth MacLeod. Illustrated by John Mantha.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008.
48 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).

ISBN 978-1-55453-195-0 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-55453-194-3 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Impostors and imposture-Juvenile literature.
Curiosities and wonders-Juvenile literature.
Occultism-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Linda Ludke.

***½ /4


Do you want to put people under your spell using hypnosis? YOU CAN DO IT! With seven years of university classes and a license to practice psychiatry. Until then, here’s a cool way to make it look like you’re hypnotizing someone - try it on yourself right now. (You can do it while you’re holding this book).

Dave Acer, aka “Doubting Dave,” is a magician, scientist and star of the Mystery Hunters television series. His motto is: “Lots of things aren’t always what they seem.” In this myth-debunking activity book, he shows kids how to stage 18 paranormal illusions - everything from moving objects with your mind to making crop circles. Hoaxes are deconstructed, and scientific explanations are offered for such mysterious occurrences as UFO sightings and Ouija Board messages.

     Step-by-step instructions, along with cartoon illustrations, help make the stunts easy to recreate. Most of the materials needed can be found around the house. With aluminum foil and masking tape, you can “Make your Own Bigfoot Prints”; using a small mirror and a camera you can “Make Fake Ghost Photos” while entertaining a “Zombie Dinner Guest” only requires “a friend wearing a big shirt that buttons down the front.”

     Sidebars feature photographs of Araya and Christina, the teenaged co-hosts of the TV show, carrying out their own investigations. They give first-hand accounts of being hypnotized, searching for Scotland’s Loch Ness monster, and attending a spoon-bending class.

     Background information on each mystery is provided, and the informal text is full of Doubting Dave’s funny quips: “So can anyone float off the ground for real? YES! People in hot-air balloons. Other than that, we’re all pretty much stuck down here with the squirrels.”

     Critical thinking and scientific reasoning underscore the fun activities. Reluctant readers will be hooked. Gotcha will also provide hours of fun at Halloween or mystery parties.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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