Secrets, shops and a strange spy store

If your kids love mysteries, they’ll love the Centuries& Sleuths Bookstores, 7419 W. Madison St., Forest Park, (708) 771-7243.

Owner Augie Aleksy has been hosting"Meeting of Minds” for more than a dozen years and this year introduced a young people’s reading group. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Sunday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.

Have a magician-in-the-making? The Chitown Magicland& Novelties, 4926 W. Diversey Ave., Chicago, (888) 71-TRICK (718-7425) sells a variety of beginner magic tricks in addition to custom T-shirts and pictures. Sign up for one or more workshops on magic, clowning and balloons.

If you can’t make it out to a mystery shop, how about having the"shop” come to you? The Mystery Shop, 551 Sundance Court, Carol Stream, (630) 690-1105,, is a traveling theater group that offers participatory mystery shows for kids in kindergarten and older.

Younger kids, those in kindergarten to second grade, use their knowledge of numbers and the alphabet to solve puzzles while those in third through sixth grades watch performers act out a"case” and work in groups to solve it. Middle school age kids can solve a"crime.” The Mystery Shop also offers workshops and storytelling options. Shows are from one to two hours and coupons are often available on the shop’s Web site.

What can be more interesting than a store that advertises its own boredom? The Boring Store, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, (773) 772-8108,, opened this year to curious shoppers in the Wicker Park area.

The store carries an assortment of oddities for undercover spies as young as 4. Proceeds from the store benefit the 826 Writing Center, one of several across the nation, that tutors and mentors kids ages 6 to 18. Parents will enjoy the clever writing on the mysterious packages that comically advertise what they do NOT contain. Kids will enjoy the sleuthing products such as laser trip wires, rearview glasses and voice traps.

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