Following cryptic clues left by a counselor, a quartet of young campers track down the source of mysterious noises in this science-laden series kickoff.
The instruction begins before the story does, with a disquisition on the nature and states of matter, and continues after the denouement with a pair of experiments and a page of explanations. In between, 9-year-old twins Angie and Alex settle in at Camp Dakota, where they’re treated to successive scientific demonstrations. These include: air pressure in action, with an overturned glass in a bowl of water; comparative density, with eggs in fresh and salt water; and heat-related expansion and contraction with a suspended weight. They’re also treated to eerie nighttime moans ascribed to a local zombie that turn out to have a natural cause. Helmer places a multicultural cast with oversized, rolling-flashlight eyes in neatly drawn sequential panels—between which Beauregard occasionally shoehorns further science facts—and tries to crank up the suspense with lots of atmospheric fog and night scenes. The fictional plot is really just a vehicle, and if the science is largely extraneous and sometimes simplistic (gravity doesn’t just pull objects “toward Earth’s surface”), at least there’s plenty of it. The load-out continues in #2, The Nighttime Cabin Thief: A Mystery About Light, and two more Summer Camp Science Mysteries.
Alas, nary a zombie in sight—but budding “braaaiiinnns” may be tempted to repeat some of the experiments for themselves. (further experiments, glossary, scientific principles) (Graphic fiction/instructional blend. 8-10)