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The Mary Celeste


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About the Author

Jane Yolen is an award-winning author who has written more than 380 books for children, including the bestseller How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? and the 1988 Caldecott Medal winner Owl Moon. She is known for her beautiful poetry, picture books, fairy tales, novels, and nonfiction, and has even been called "the Hans Christian Andersen of America" (Newsweek). She lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Visit her at

Heidi Elizabet Yolen Stemple is Jane Yolen's daughter and sometime writing partner. Together they wrote the Unsolved Mysteries from History series. Heidi lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Roger Roth, Sr., has partnered with Dr. Hanby in his ministry and writing for many years. Together they oversee Mark Hanby Ministries/Fathers Heart Ministries, an internationally recognized teaching and resource center.


This first book in a new series of unsolved mysteries may well have amateur sleuths lying awake at night. When the crewless ship Mary Celeste was found adrift in 1872, there were no signs of pirates, mutiny, cholera or weather damage, and its cargo of raw alcohol was intact; only the lifeboat and navigational instruments were missing. A girl narrator introduces the story of the ship's discovery by the crew of the Dei Gratia. Her notes on a spiral steno pad, plus nautical definitions on multicolored Post-It notes, are tipped into the book's main action as the 19th-century seamen rummage through the ship and attempt to reconstruct what happened. The book ends with a review of such possible explanations as "The Drunken Crew Theory" and "The Sea Monster Theory," and questions help detectives evaluate whether each theory fits the clues. Mother-daughter team Yolen and Stemple (who previously collaborated for Meet the Monsters) spin a suspenseful account and add further significance and factual detail through the clever informal format. Roth's (Fishing for Methuselah) watercolor-and-pencil artwork combines realistic nautical touches with the human camaraderie of life at sea. Young Sherlocks will be eager to set sail on this team's next course. Ages 6-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 3-5-Fans of detective stories will be thrilled to try their hands at solving this true historic mystery. In 1872, the Mary Celeste sailed out of New York and into the realm of bizarre puzzles. When found by the crew of the Dei Gratia less than a month after setting sail, the brig was in seaworthy condition and almost completely in order, but everyone on it had vanished. The tale is told by a fictional character who shares her methods of investigation and the known facts of the case. Warm, double-page watercolors with details highlighted in pencil show each aspect of the discovery and exploration of the derelict ship, and enhance the drama of the story. Maritime terms and supplemental information on the individuals involved appear on panels drawn to resemble sticky notes and lined notebook papers that are superimposed on the illustrations. The book includes a listing of a half dozen of the most popular theories, accompanied by questions that can be answered from the text, thus encouraging readers to exercise keen observation and deductive reasoning to form their own opinions. While the answers to the mystery of the Mary Celeste may never be known, this is an intriguing story.-Ann G. Brouse, Big Flats Branch Library, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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