Monday, October 4, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Case Closed? Nine mysteries unlocked by modern science by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Michael Wandelmaier

What really happened to Russian princess Anastasia? Where was Queen Hatshepsut buried? What happened to the missing plane, Star Dust? These and more mysteries from history are answered in this combination of archaeology, history, science, and investigation.

Each chapter begins with a brief teaser to interest readers in the case, then supplies background and information on the mystery. Hughes describes how scientists, archeologists, and others worked together to find clues and solve the mystery, including opinions from experts in the field, photographs and maps. More information is supplied through Wandelmaier's illustrations and artists' renderings of historical buildings and reconstructions. The final heading, "Mystery Solved?" or "The Investigation Continues" recaps the investigation and its conclusions, then finishes with suggestions for related mysteries that still remain or aspects of the mystery that remain unsolved.

There's a nice mix of subjects; missing explorers, historical mysteries, vanished cities, or missing people. Some of the cases, like Princess Anastasia, are well-known. Others, like the missing submarine INS Dakar, are more obscure. I would have liked to see more photographs and fewer illustrations and artist's renderings of the mysteries, but I like the design of the book. It's a great introduction for middle grades to the way different disciplines can work together, as well as a fun introduction to historical mysteries.

Verdict: Recommended, especially if you have students or patrons interested in historical mysteries, science, or history.

ISBN: 9781554533626; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates.

3 comments:

Charlotte said...

i just put this on my list for my son--thanks!

Madigan McGillicuddy said...

Thanks for participating in NonFiction Monday this week.

What a fascinating find. This book reminds me, just a teeny bit, of Raucous Royals by Carlyn Beccia, which invites readers to debate whether certain rumors about famous historic figures were true or not.

Jennifer said...

Charlotte - I'm sure your son would love this! I was fascinated by the number of explorers who have mysteriously disappeared - who knew?

Madigan - yes, that's a great book. It's on my list to do a book club with someday, there are several kids at my library who really got into the mysteries.