The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple

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NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

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The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History
Author: Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple
Illustrator: Roger Roth
Published July 1st, 2002 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: The Mary Celeste was discovered adrift on the open sea by another ship in 1872 — with no sign of captain or crew. What happened? Did the crew mutiny? Were they attacked by pirates? Caught in a storm? No one ever found out.

Inside this book are the clues that were left behind and the theories of what people think happened aboard that ship. Become a detective, study the clues, and see if you can help solve this chilling mystery from history.

My Review: This is the final book in the Unsolved Mystery from History series and I think it may be my favorite yet. Like The Wolf Girls, I had not heard about the Mary Celeste before this book, but this mystery was just so enthralling! A crew that just disappears?!?! How?!?! After reading the book, I spent hours online reading about the Mary Celeste and it is so interesting. There are so many websites and opinions and theories—all which would be so much fun to share with students.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Like the other books in this series, I would love to see these books used in classrooms (history or language arts/reading). These books promote studying history, asking questions, inquiry, and vocabulary. Each book begins with an introduction about a young girl who enjoys unsolved mysteries from history and then the books are set up like her case notebook. Each page of the case notebook includes a narrative nonfiction section, an informational nonfiction section where facts about the story are explained even more in detail, and then there are vocabulary words from the two sections defined for the reader. Finally, in the back of the books the different theories about what could be the answer to the unsolved mystery are shared and briefly discussed. The set up of this book leads to infinite possibilities of being used in the classroom. Students could debate, write research papers, could do their very own case notebook about a different mystery, etc. Another option is to get all of the Unsolved Mystery from History books and have students get into lit circle groups and have each group read a different mystery then research and share. The other books in the series are about the Salem Witch Trials, the Wolf Girls, and Roanoke.

Discussion Questions: Which of the theories do you think happened?; Do you trust Captain Morehouse? Why or why not?; One theory mentions a kraken. Do you think sea monsters exist?; Study the weather of the Pacific during the time period the ship disappeared. Is weather an option for the crew’s disappearance?

We Flagged: Narrative Nonfiction “The last place the men looked was in the ship’s hold where her cargo- 1,700 barrels of raw alcohol- was well stowed. Not a single barrel had been opened. All in all, Deveau and Wright looked around the Mary Celeste for over half an hour. They found no sign of anyone on board, no signs of struggle.”

Informative Nonfiction “The cargo was alcohol stored in red oak barrels. Red oak is a porous wood that lets alcohol fumes escape. When the barrels were examined, some of the alcohol was found to be gone, but that was entirely due to evaporation. According to reports, the barrels were “in good order” and not “in any way injury.” Besides, the alcohol was was raw alcohol which was to be used for fortifying Italian wines. Anyone drinking it unprocessed would not become drunk, but would rather lapse into a coma or die. Only one hatch was found open, but there was no sign of smoke damage or an explosion in the unventilated hold.”

Vocabulary “Hold: the area inside the ship where cargo is stored; Cargo: the goods being transported by the ship” (p. 20-21)

Read This If You Loved: The other Unsolved Mystery from History books

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I’m so sad that I am done reviewing the Unsolved Mystery from History series, but I hope you have enjoyed learning about them as I enjoyed reading them. 

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Roanoke, The Lost Colony: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple

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NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

roanoke

Roanoke, The Lost Colony: An Unsolved Mystery from History
Author: Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabeth Yolen Stemple
Illustrator: Roger Roth
Published July 1st, 2003 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: In 1587 John White was chosen by Sir Walter Raleigh to lead a new colony at Roanoke off the Atlantic coast. After bringing many men, women, and children to the new land, White went back to England to gather supplies for the long winter. But when he finally returned to the fort almost three years later, he found that all of the colonists had vanished. The only signs of life left were the letters CRO carved into a tree and the word CROATOAN carved into one of the fort’s posts. Some people think that the Spanish army captured the colonists; some people think that the local native people murdered them; others think that the colonists went off to live with the native people and start a new life. Still others think that the colonists tried to sail home to England and were lost at sea. No one knows for sure. Become a detective as you read this true story, study the clues, and try to figure out the fate of the lost colony of Roanoke. The Unsolved Mystery from History series is written by acclaimed author Jane Yolen and former private investigator Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple. Read carefully and check your clues. You might be the first to solve a puzzle that has baffled people for years.

My Review: Just like all of the others in this series, I found this story fascinating. Unlike, The Wolf Girls, this is a mystery from history that I wanted to learn more about. I had heard of Roanoke, but I didn’t know anything except that it is the lost colony where everyone disappeared. I was never taught about Roanoke, so this was my initial introduction to the colony and man, it is all so fascinating!

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: I am going to sound like a broken record here, but this, like the other parts of the series, can be used in such amazing ways in the classroom! Check out my Salem Witch Trials and The Wolf Girls reviews to read about how I envision these books being used in the classroom.

Discussion Questions: What do you think happened to everyone? Do you agree with any of the theories given at the end or do you have one of your own?

We Flagged: Narrative nonfiction The colonists left Portsmouth on April 26, 1587. They planned to meet with the soldiers, then go to Chesapeake Bay, north of Roanoke, where the land was more fertile and the harbor was safer. They sailed in three boats: a flyboat; a pinnace; and the flagship, Lyon. After a month and a haft at sea they reached the Americas at last, stopping first on several islands. At Santa Cruz several colonists ate green fruit. Their lips and tongues swelled badly. A number of people drank from a pond that had ‘water so evil’ they fell dreadfully ill. Some who washed  their faces in the water had swollen eyes for five or six days after. They captured five huge tortoises for meat—so large, sixteen men become exhausted hauling them back to the ship.”

Informational nonfiction “For long ocean journeys several types of ships were generally used, including: Flagship- the fleet’s largest, best, or safest ship, on which the commander sailed; Flyboat- a large boat with one or two masts, generally square rigged; Pinnace- a smaller, faster, more maneuverable boat that sometimes carried oars.”

Vocabulary “Fertile: capable of supporting a plentiful crop; Tortoise: land turtle of the warm climates, a good food source because the meat doesn’t spoil quickly” (p. 10-11)

Read This If You Loved: Any of the Unsolved Mysteries from History, Nonfiction books about Roanoke

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The Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple

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NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

wolf

The Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History
Authors: Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple
Illustrator: Roger Roth
Published August 1st, 2000 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: In 1920 a missionary brought two young girls to an orphanage in India. The girls didn’t know how to talk, walk, or eat from a plate. Some people thought the girls had been abandoned by their parents. Some people said the girls were brought up by wolves in the wild. Still others thought that the missionary who ran the orphanage made up the story about the girls. No one knows for sure.

Become a detective as you read this true story, study the clues, and try to figure out the fate of the wolf girls of Midnapore. The Unsolved Mystery from History series is written by acclaimed author Jane Yolen and former private investigator Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple. Read carefully and check your clues. You might be the first to solve a puzzle that has baffled people for years.

My Review: This story was fascinating as I had never heard of the wolf girls and came in with no prior knowledge about the mystery. It was so much fun to be full on submerged in the mystery and following the clues that are given throughout the “case notebook”.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is set up just like the Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History and could be used the same way in the classroom: This book promotes studying history, inquiry, and vocabulary. The book begins with an introduction to a young girl who enjoys unsolved mysteries from history and then the book is set up like her case notebook. Each page of the case notebook includes a narrative nonfiction section, an informational nonfiction section where facts about the story are explained even more in detail, and then there are vocabulary words from the two sections defined for the reader. Finally, in the back of the book the different theories about what could be the answer to the unsolved mystery are shared and briefly discussed. The set up of this book leads to infinite possibilities of being used in the classroom. Students could debate, write research papers, could do their very own case notebook about a different mystery, etc. Another option is to get all of the Unsolved Mystery from History books and have students get into lit circle groups and have each group read a different mystery then research and share.

What I like particularly about this one is that there is so much to debate as there aren’t many clues given throughout the story. Many of the eye witnesses are unreliable and there aren’t many facts shared throughout the book. I think this book would lead to a great discussion about primary and secondary sources as well as reliability.

Discussion Questions: Which theory do you believe about the wolf girls?; Do you think a journal written a year after an incident is reliable?; Many of the scientific facts and theories shared are from the 18th and 19th century, are these facts still what science believes?; Why do you think the missionary’s wife never spoke of the wolf girls?; Why do you think that Singh’s accounts were different than his daughter’s?; Singh said he did not want to exploit the girls yet he let people come to see her – is this exploitation? Do you think what he did was wrong?

We Flagged: Narrative nonfiction “After nursing the two girls back to health, the Reverend Singh loaded them into the cart and drove them for eight days to his orphanage in Midnapore. But the wolf girls were so weak and emaciated, they could not move about, so at first no one outside of the orphanage saw them. Singh wrote in his journal, ‘They were accepted simply as neglected children.’

Informational Nonfiction Singh wrote in his journal that the girls were mud-covered, with scratches, scars, and fleas. The heels of their hands were callused from running on all fours. Their ears trembled like a dog’s when they were excited. Their brows were bushy and long. Each had arms almost reaching their knees. Their teeth were close-set, uneven, with fine, sharp edges, the canines longer and more pointed than is usual in humans. However, Singh took no scientific measurements and invited no scientists to examine the girls. He took photographs that were fuzzy and indistinct. Years later, his own daughter, when interviewed, did not remember the distinctive teeth or exceptional ears or terrifically bushy brows.

Vocabulary Emaciated: thin and feeble due to disease or poor food; Neglected: not take proper care of” (p. 20-21)

Read This If You Loved: Yolen’s other Unsolved Mystery from History books

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What mystery from history do you wish Jane Yolen had written about? 

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The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen & Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple

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NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

salem

The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History
Authors: Jane Yolen & Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple
Illustrated by: Roger Roth
Published September 7th, 2004 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: In 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, witnessed one of the saddest and most inexplicable chapters in American history. When a group of girls came down with a horrible, mysterious bout of illness, the town doctor looked in his medical books but failed to find a reasonable diagnosis. Pretty soon everyone in town was saying the same thing: The girls were ill because they were under a spell, the spell of witchcraft! And still, the question remains: Why did the hysteria occur? The townspeople had many things to worry about back then: smallpox, strife with the local Indians, a preacher demanding higher wages, and the division of land in the community. But did all of those problems justify a witch hunt?

Become a detective as you read this true story, study the clues, and try to understand the hysteria! The Unsolved Mystery from History series is written by acclaimed author Jane Yolen and former private investigator Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple. This is an innovative history lesson that’s sure to keep kids thinking throughout.

Review: The mystery of the Salem Witch Trials is one that has haunted the United States for over 3oo years now and is one that students love to read about (and I do, too!). Most of my thoughts about this book are about how awesome this book is for the classroom. The Yolens seemed to have written it specifically for teachers to use.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: This book promotes studying history, inquiry, and vocabulary. The book begins with an introduction to a young girl who enjoys unsolved mysteries from history and then the book is set up like her case notebook. Each page of the case notebook includes a narrative nonfiction section about what was going on in Salem, an informational nonfiction section where facts about the story are explained even more in detail, and then there are vocabulary words from the two sections defined for the reader. Finally, in the back of the book the different theories about what could be the answer to the unsolved mystery are shared and briefly discussed. The set up of this book leads to infinite possibilities of being used in the classroom. Students could debate, write research papers, could do their very own case notebook about a different mystery, etc. Another option is to get all of the Unsolved Mystery from History books and have students get into lit circle groups and have each group read a different mystery then research and share.

Discussion Questions: What do you think happened in Salem? [Could be a wonderful debate or cooperative research presentation/paper in class. Have each students, after reading the different theories, decide which they believe is true. Then within their groups come up with evidence that supports the theory that they believe in.]

We Flagged: Narrative Nonfiction Section: One bitterly cold day in February, Betty and Abigail both fell ill, collapsing onto their small rope beds. They convulsed. They contorted. Their arms and legs jerked about. They shouted bizarre, unintelligible words. They crouched under chairs and cowered as if frightened. In other houses in Salem Village several of their friends began to act the same way.

Informational Nonfiction Section: The other sick girls in Salem village included Ann Punam Jr. (age 12), Mercy Lewis (age 19), Mary Walcott (age 16), Elizabeth Hubbard (age 17), and Mary Warren (age 20). Like Abigail, Elizabeth and Mercy were orphans; Mercy may have witnessed her parents being killed in an Indian attack three years earlier in Main. Mary Walcott had lost her mother when she was eight. Ann and Betty were daughters of landowners, but Marry Warren, Elizabeth, and Mercy were maidservants.

Vocabulary: Convulsed: shook violently, Contorted: Twisted into unusual shapes, Unintelligible: Impossible to understand” (p. 12-13)

Read This If You Loved: I Walk in Dread by Lisa Rowe Fraustino, The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble, Witch Child by Celia Rees, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer and other nonfiction books about Salem

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North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler

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north

North of Nowhere
Author: Liz Kessler
Publication: August 6th, 2013 by Candlewick Press

Summary: After a frantic call from her grandmother about her grandad vanishing, Mia and her mother go to the seaside village home of her grandparents to help.  Disconnected from everyone and without any clues in the vanishing, Mia finds herself walking on the beach often where she stumbles upon a diary on an abandoned fishing boat. Through the diary, she begins exchanging notes with a girl named Dee, a young girl who lives on a nearby island, who she instantly connects with. It is through these exchanges that Mia begins to notice some weird things and a new mystery opens up right in front of her.

My Review: I really like Mia’s voice. Her voice is so authentic teenager that it was like listening to an 8th grader telling me the story. I think this is key because I think it’ll help readers draw into the story since it is a mystery that slowly unravels. Hearing Mia tell it will mean that it is almost like hearing the story from a friend.  I also thought that the whole idea behind the mystery was quite clever, but I can’t really talk about it because it would give away the ending! So, read and we’ll discuss.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: I would love to listen to students discuss this book! Although I figured out the mystery earlier than revealed, but I know that middle school students would be predicting and trying to figure out the mystery the whole book until the reveal. It would keep them on the edge of their seats!

Discussion Questions: Why do you think that Dee’s diary entries and Mia’s observations are not matching up?; What do you think happened to Mia’s grandad?

We Flagged: “I need to write it all down. That’s the only way I’ll believe it’s true. Spring break, eighth grade. All those incredible, impossible things. Did they really happen? I’ve tried a hundred times to tell myself that they couldn’t have. That none of it is possible. And I’m right; none of it is possible. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is true. Everything did happen, exactly as I’m going to tell it now.” (p. 1)

Read This If You Loved: Red Kayak by Patricia Cummings, The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher, Capture the Flag by Kate Messner, Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead, Undercurrents by Willo Davis Roberts

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**Thank you to Candlewick Press for providing a copy for review**