Two resourceful 9-year-old girls, one from the U.S. and one from Mexico, solve the mystery of dinghies stolen from sailboats at a popular anchorage spot in a lagoon.
In this installment of Diller’s series, Pack-n-Go Girls Adventures (Mystery of the Secret Room, 2014, etc.), Izzy Bennett and her parents are anchored aboard the Dream Catcher in the small Mexican coastal town of Barra de Navidad as part of their yearlong sailing expedition. While sailing with her family is a great escapade, Izzy misses her friends back in Seattle and hopes to meet other boats with kids her age. At a restaurant and hotel in Barra, she meets Patti Cruz Delgado, also 9, whose family owns the place. Patti’s English is far better than Izzy’s halting Spanish, and the two quickly bond and play together for several days. Patti divulges that all is not well at this idyllic spot. Bookings are down, in part because travelers are heading to larger resorts but also because of a rash of thefts from sailboats in the anchorage. The Bennetts are concerned about the dinghy thefts and consider sailing to another spot, but Izzy is so thrilled to make such a good friend that they decide to stay put. When another dinghy disappears and Patti’s mother suspects that her son Carlos might be involved, the girls are determined to uncover the thief and exonerate Carlos. In the best tradition of girl detectives, Izzy whispers her idea to Patti: “It’s a long shot, but it just might work.” The well-paced story, with illustrations by Turner (Color Your World, 2016, etc.) that effectively complement the text, features appealingly adventurous girls. There’s a dose of realism in the characters, particularly Izzy. She’s depicted as fretful and beset with theoretical worries but overcomes them when faced with true danger. The subject of wealth is handled with refreshing candor. Patti assumes that the Bennetts must be very rich. Izzy explains how they scrimped and saved to afford this trip. They planned ahead. The author sometimes restates a point made obvious by the credible characters and clear writing (After discussing their similarities, “The two girls realized that girls are the same around the world”). And the sharing of cultures comes off as a bit facile.
A spirited, engaging tale filled with intriguing nautical details and local color.