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:
Alec Flint doesn’t go anywhere without his detective tools stuffed into his pockets. Alec doesn’t want to be just any detective, he wants to be a really great detective – a super sleuth. He likes hanging out with his Dad, a police officer, so he can learn about investigations. When artifacts from the Christopher Columbus museum exhibit his Dad is guarding come up missing, Alec pulls out his notepad and gets to work collecting clues.
At school, another mystery develops when Alec’s art teacher disappears. With so many mysterious things going on, Alec decides to take on his classmate Gina as a partner. Two heads are better than one when it comes to unraveling clues.
Alec and Gina head to the scenes of both crimes, the art room and the town museum. They begin searching for clues and collecting evidence, which looks a lot like snooping around! Author: Jill Santopolo
Good detectives can manage a lot of information coming into their brain. They choose which pieces of information to concentrate on. In, The London Eye,Ted doesn’t know it, but he is naturally wired with good detective skills. He is able to easily choose one type of information to concentrate on which helps him use his logic skills to solve the mystery.
Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim comes to their home in London for a visit and they take him to the popular tourist attraction the London Eye, an enormous ferris wheel. At 443 feet high, riders on the Eye can see 25 miles in all directions. The thing is so large, 800 passengers can ride at once! (The Eye is really real, you can go to London to ride on it.) While the kids are standing in line, a stranger appoaches and offers them a free ticket. Salim uses the free ticket to enter the ride and his cousins watch as the car he enters moves up and over the wheel and back to the ground, where all of the riders get off…except…Salim…who has disappeared into thin air. How can a kid enter a ride and never get off again? And who was the stranger that gave Salim the ticket?
The police are stumped and the adults are emotionally overcome, barely able to function themselves let alone think through any kind of investigation. Ted and Kat, the last two to see Salim alive, shelve their sibling rivalry and pool their brain power to uncover clues and follow leads all over London. Kat uses her customary impatience to keep the momentum of their sleuthing moving forward. Ted uses his encyclopedic brain, his literal view of the world, and his detachment from emotion to concentrate on the known facts, and just the facts, to track the clues. A page turning, suspenseful ride with the best kind of hero – a guy whose unusual way of thinking finally gets the respect it deserves. Author: Siobhan Dowd