Books by Michele Torrey

Released: Aug. 10, 2010

Drake Doyle and Nell Fossey, fifth-grade science detectives, solve a series of mysteries, uncovering the ghost in the Glum mansion, repelling an alien invasion, foiling a fixed carnival contest and avoiding a bridge disaster. Told in ten short chapters with snappy dialogue and plenty of humor, each of these four episodes involves a real scientific phenomenon: amplification of sound waves, electromagnets, invasive plant species and the natural resonance that led to the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. In finding their solutions, the two make use of the scientific method, carefully explained in the backmatter. There are also instructions for the reader's own related scientific experiments and activities. The experiments are engaging, the directions are clear and the science behind them is solid. Newman's occasional ink-and-wash illustrations add to the fun. Aspiring science detectives and their teachers will welcome the return of these super-sleuths. Those new to this appealing series, which began with The Case of the Grasping Garbage (2000), will want to seek out the four earlier titles. (Mystery. 8-11)Read full book review >
VOYAGE OF MIDNIGHT by Michele Torrey
Released: Nov. 14, 2006

The most intense and harrowing of Torrey's nautical Chronicles of Courage takes a young British orphan from the workhouse to New Orleans, and then to Africa as Surgeon's Mate aboard his uncle's slave ship. At first, Philip is delighted to find his only living relative to be a genial, prosperous ship's captain with an important job for him. That enthusiasm dims when he learns, mid-voyage, that he's become involved in an unsavory, illegal trade (the year is 1821), and changes to outright horror when he's charged first with helping to brand the gathered human "cargo," then with treating its escalating ills as below-decks conditions quickly go beyond hideous on the return voyage. That voyage becomes even more shot through with terror and despair when all on board, captives and crew, are blinded by conjunctivitis. But it gives Philip, the first and one of the few to recover his sight, a chance to at least try to make amends by tricking his uncle into sailing east rather than west. Though this has some parallels with Paula Fox's Slave Dancer (1973), it's definitely for audiences with stronger stomachs. (author's note, glossary) (Fiction. 12-15)Read full book review >
Released: July 12, 2005

Tucking in a very long subtitle and unobtrusive dashes of moralism for period flavor, Torrey sends a sullen 17th-century lad through an often-brutal coming-of-age adventure aboard a pirate ship. Impressed into the crew of the Tempest Galley after witnessing his merchant father's bloody execution, Matthew is determined to bring the pirates and their captain, Josiah Black, to justice. Ahead of him, though, lies a long, attitude-changing voyage from the mid-Atlantic to the Red Sea, along with vicious battles, treachery, massive quantities of gleaming treasure and reversals of fortune—leading up to some well-telegraphed, but to Matthew, at least, stunning family revelations and a heroic final sacrifice. As the huge appended bibliography attests, Torrey has done her homework, drawing expertly from actual history and contemporary accounts for credible re-creations of life aboard a pirate ship of the time, as well as in various landlocked settings, and creating a vivid backdrop for an absorbing tale whose narrator ultimately wins past both physical and mental torture to a bruised, hard-won peace. (author's afterword not seen) (Fiction. 12-15)Read full book review >
TO THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Michele Torrey
Released: Feb. 11, 2003

It's 1519 and the plague has struck Spain. Mateo Macías de Ávila buries his parents, burns his farm, and sets out with his dog, Ugly, looking for a future. In an old inn reeking of smoke and half-drunken men, Mateo meets a recruiter and signs away two years of his life for a voyage to an unknown destination. Mateo meets Rodrigo Nieto, who tells him, "If we are lucky, half of us will return. It is the way of the sea. And that, my friend, is what I call adventure." As cabin boy, cook, musician, and artist, Mateo is indeed in for an adventure. Sailing under Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese captain swearing allegiance to King Carlos of Spain, Mateo and Rodrigo hear stories of two-headed monsters, cannibals, and sea monsters standing between them and the riches of the Spice Islands. In their bid to sail west to get to the Far East and return home by circumnavigating the globe, Mateo and his fellow voyagers experience murder, mutiny, marooning, starvation, beautiful native women, a forest of ghosts, menacing seawolves, and a graveyard of mummified giants. Young readers will be entranced by Torrey's descriptions of starving sailors eating maggots, rats, leather, and sawdust, and of executions and bloody warfare. The writing is lively; readers will feel as if they have been right there with Mateo on one of the greatest voyages of discovery ever. This deserves to be in the hands of every reader who loves history and adventure. (map, glossary, afterword, bibliography, bibliography for young readers) (Historical fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2002

With a tone that falls somewhere between Lemony Snicket and the dialogue from Dragnet, Torrey's (The Case of the Mossy Lake Monster, 2002, etc.) third addition to her science series for young readers is sure to please. Solid information is sandwiched between hilariously unlikely situations. The small town of Mossy Lake is filled with young science detectives and mysteries of all sorts. One snotty girl has gotten herself caught in her laundry bin, roses are wilting at the garden show, a ghost is haunting the fine folks, and someone is selling endangered parrots. Mossy Lake is a hotbed of crime; thank goodness heroes Drake Doyle and Nell Fossey are on the scene. Unfortunately, archenemy Frisco often arrives to steal their clients. Torrey successfully blends science with humor and follows the short, amusing stories with clear explanations of the scientific principles. Comic black-and-white illustrations add to the humor. Curious readers will surely wish to blast an egg out of PVC piping, test the principle of capillary action and figure out the mystery of Pepper's ghost. Accessible, understandable, and hilarious science for the youngest problem solvers. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

There's always room for another detective team on the junior fiction shelves, and the dynamic duo of fifth graders, Drake Doyle and Nell Fossey, have the added appeal of being amateur scientists as well as amateur sleuths. Torrey (The Case of the Galloping Garbage, not reviewed, etc.) uses short sentences, snappy dialogue, and lots of droll humor for the second entry in what promises to be a successful mystery series. Drake and Nell are well-drawn characters who solve four short mysteries in this volume, involving a sickly cat, an inflatable sea monster, oil-covered penguins, and defaced posters from a school election. Torrey, a microbiologist as well as a talented writer, skillfully injects the scientific method and principles into each case, and an appendix offers humorously written experiments and activities that relate to each case. Newman's spot illustrations and a few full-page illustrations in black-and-white line drawings add to the humor and also illustrate authentic reasons for writing (business cards, receipts, letters, and lab notes) that teachers will appreciate. In fact, teachers will be among the first fans of this series, as the cases would make great read-alouds in elementary classrooms, with built-in science experiments as follow-up activities. (Fiction. 8-11)Read full book review >