Middle grade readers love to solve mysteries, and after reading The Seals That Wouldn’t Swim ($5.95 Stone Arch Books, ages 9 and up) one of several books in the Field Trip Mysteries Series, I know I love to solve them too. In this story, a 6th grade science class takes a trip to an aquarium to observe the marine life. But not long after they arrive, they discover the seals at that aquarium are sluggish, and the marine animal show has been cancelled. Just as the students try to figure out why the seals are so sleepy, those students learn that the seals are now missing from the aquarium. Where can they be? Who could be involved in their disappearance? With some methodical thinking and clever detective work, can they solve the mystery?
What I like about this book, written by Steve Brezenoff and illustrated by Marcos Calo, is that it is easy to understand, yet it really makes the reader pay attention to the details and think outside the box. The solution is not obvious, so I found myself going back to previous pages to check the facts to try to figure out who was responsible for the missing seals. The students in the story explain in detail how they reached their conclusions, which really helps kids at this age develop their reasoning skills. In the back of the book is a detective’s notebook with more information for further detective work. The Field Trip Mysteries Series would make a great collection for any middle grade reader who enjoys a good whodunnit. These are the kind of stories kids have fun reading and solving together.
– Reviewed by Debbie Glade