Arrr you ready to read (and possibly write) a spooky mystery?
Following series opener Stuck in the Stone Age (2018), performers and writing teachers the Story Pirates issue their second novel and writing-manual mashup; this time, it’s a ghostly mystery. Thirteen-year-old Eliza Stahl and her botanist mother plan to spend a couple of summer months helping rare-plant dealers Winston and Camilla Carroll identify exotic plants at their shop in New York City. Eliza’s reluctant until she sees the shop; she wants to be a paranormal investigator, and she’s sure Carrolls’ Gardens is haunted. Strange noises in the attic, a shadowy figure, and the odd behavior of the Carrolls and their teenage nephew, Tommy, prompt Eliza to suspect ghosts and even possession. When a rare plant goes missing, Eliza’s mother joins the investigation…but things are about to get weird! Eliza and her mom present white, while the Carrolls are people of color. As with the first in the Story Pirates Present series, this shivery mystery was inspired by a story idea from a real kid: here, Phoebe Wolinetz. Periodically throughout the tale, Rolo (captain of the Story Pirates) and Wolinetz pop up in an illustration to direct readers interested in the crafting of the mystery to the Mystery Construction Zone, 90 pages of detailed writing instruction, at the back. It’s a fantastic, step-by-step guide with prompts, ideas, definitions, and forms for aspiring Edgar winners.
West’s tale, decorated with Aly’s eerie, cartoon art, is well worth reading on its own—the writing manual takes it to a whole other level. (Paranormal mystery/nonfiction hybrid. 8-14)