During a field trip to Black Vine Swamp Nick and his classmates are chased out of the swamp by an unexpected wildfire. The kids return to school only to discover that one teacher, the demanding and unpopular Mrs. Starch, is not among them. The school announces that she has had a “family emergency” but no one really believes that, especially Nick and his friend Marta. Why would her car still be in the visitor parking lot at the swamp? Why would the school cover up her disappearance?
Nick and Marta want to know the truth about Mrs. Starch as well as the fire. Their first suspect is classmate Duane “Smoke” Scrod because, well, he’s burned stuff before. The two decide to do some clue hunting on their own and find that the clues don’t match up with their initial hunches. Sometimes, when you think you know a lot about a person, you really know nothing at all.
Their investigation takes a dangerous turn when they stumble upon some greedy oilmen and a mysterious group of environmental activists who have their own plan to keep development from encroaching on the habitat of the endangered Florida panther in the Black Vine Swamp. Nick, Marta and Duane are likable, funny kids that are just plain smart, despite what some of the adults think. These kids also pay close attention to what people say and do and are able to remember the details. Author: Carl Hiaasen
The Boy Sherlock Holmes series tells the story of the childhood of the world’s most famous detective. In his first adventure, Eye of the Crow, we met Sherlock as a very young boy as he solved his first big case and committed his life to fighting crime.
In this second adventure, Sherlock witnesses a famous trapeze artist fall to his death. Sherlock observes that something isn’t right at the crime scene and suspects foul play. Again, Sherlock is a step ahead of the bobbies (police), especially Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade, who dislikes the upstart boy detective and took all of the credit for the last mystery Sherlock solved.
Sherlock is determined to figure things out by observing the crime scene and talking to people. He is so totally committed to his life of crime fighting that he can hardly concentrate on anything else. This makes him a top notch detective, but not so great at making and keeping friends. When Inspector Lestrade betrays him again, young Sherlock cements his desire to be the best detective in the world… and to work alone. His plan is to outsmart them all and turn himself into the best crime-fighting machine anybody has every seen. And he’ll do it too – his 3rd case, Vanishing Girl, comes out in October, 2009. Author: Shane Peacock
James is having a really terrible 11th birthday. His mom has invited kids he doesn’t even know to his birthday party. All James really wants is for his father to come and finally, at the end, he does – bringing with him a pen and ink drawing set as a gift.
Observing all of this from the safety of a very tiny hiding place is Marvin, a beetle that lives in the kitchen cupboard. Marvin has watched the awful birthday party and the sad look on James’ face. Marvin is determined to give James a really good birthday present, and so he does. Late that night, he uses the pen and ink set to draw James a miniature picture, a perfect miniature picture of the scene outside James’s bedroom window. The picture is perfect down to the last tiny detail – it’s a masterpiece.
James thinks the picture is brilliant and is even happier discovering that he has a beetle-sized friend. James’s happiness turns to dismay, however, when his mother assumes James drew the picture. Things get really complicated when James is recruited to forge a Drurer drawing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art so that art thieves will be tricked into stealing a fake. The problem – James can’t draw! With Marvin safely tucked into his pocket, the two new friends set out for a real adventure at the Museum of Art. The boy and the beetle happen to see things no one else seems to notice. Things even get dangerous because the art theives are closer than anyone thinks. Author: Elise Broach
If you like The Mouse and the Motorcycle or Stuart Little – this is another great story between a human/animal pair, this time, a boy and a bug. And even though beetles have a lot of legs and scurry and are generally not liked, Marvin is a great character. He’s a funny, lovable beetle-friend for James. And he’s great at observation – he has to be if he doesn’t want stepped on!
Here are some great art mysteries too – try these:
Four newly orphaned children: Henry, Jessie, Violet & Benny are on their own looking for food, water and a safe place to sleep at night. The kids have a Grandfather, but they’ve heard he’s mean and doesn’t want them, so they’ve decided to try to make it on their own.
During a storm, the kids find shelter in an old boxcar. It’s safe, dry and near a place to get water. The boxcar becomes their home. When Violet gets sick, the kids are forced to find an adult that can help. Can they trust the doctor? Will he take them away from their boxcar home? Author: Gertrude Chandler Warner Series: The Boxcar Children Mysteries
And it turns out the four kids have a knack for solving mysteries and star in many, many more Boxcar Children Mysteries starting with book #2 Surprise Island.
Gertrude Chandler Warner wrote the original 19 Boxcar Children books. After she died, her publisher arranged to have more Boxcar children books published about the same four kids. New this year is The Boxcar Children Graphic Novels. That means the books look like a comic book.
Physical evidence is any object found at a crime scene that might be a clue to help figure out what happened…or who did it. You have to be very careful collecting evidence and keeping track of it. It’s very important to write down the date and time when you found the object and where you found it. It’s also important to wear gloves so that you don’t contaminate the evidence before a laboratory can run tests on it. For example, you wouldn’t want to get your own fingerprints on an object that might have the suspect’s fingerprints on it.
Print out copies of this evidence card to keep in your detective tool kit to help you keep track of the important things you find. Put the evidence, and the filled out evidence card, in a ziploc bag – that keeps the evidence dry and secure.
In Who Stole Uncle Sam? Alex’s baseball coach, Mr. Banner, enters a port-a-potty at the park to change into his Uncle Sam costume for an annual running event but fails to come back out again. The kids yell for him. Nothing. They finally decide to open the door. He’s gone! How can someone disappear into thin air? Even stranger…the coach turns up later in the afternoon stumbling out of a different port-a-potty, dazed and confused. How did he get from one port-a-potty to the other? Why can’t he remember the time he was missing? Did someone do this on purpose? Alex and his friend Yasmeen investigate – including a stint in the police department’s evidence room sifting through a weekend’s worth of garbage collected from the park. Sometimes, detective work stinks! The evidence sure stinks but the lead they get from it doesn’t! Author: Martha Freeman
If you lik Alex and Yasmeen – try one of their other mystery adventures: