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Carole Marsh Books Review by Nancy Wagner

By Carole Marsh
Gallopade International
PO Box 2779
Peachtree City, GA 30269

The Puzzle of the Shark Surfer Girl

This is book #3 of the series called "Criss Cross Applesauce Detective Agency" about three girls, ages 7, 8, and 9, who are close friends. It is large print for easy reading in the lower elementary grades and has frequent illustrations throughout the book. It introduces many facts about sharks as the girls go on vacation to the beach. The book has a glossary, a list of activities to go along with the book, discussion questions, shark trivia, and even a page on learning how to surf. The story itself comprises only 34 of the 53 pages.

The Puzzle of the Indian Arrowhead

This is book #3 of the series called "Three Amigos" about three boys, ages 7, 8, and 9, who are close friends. Like The Puzzle of the Shark Surfer Girl, it is in large print for easy reading at 2nd to 3rd-grade reading level. The boys take a field trip to Warm Springs, Georgia, to learn about President Franklin D. Roosevelt and also to see where the Creek Indians once lived. In 30 pages, they learn about FDR's polio and how polio patients came to Warm Springs for rehabilitation, some simple facts about the Great Depression of the 1920s, and the natural warm springs where the Creek Indians lived. The last half of the book provides activities to go along with the book, discussion questions, arrowhead facts, and a glossary.

The Mystery on the Great Wall of China

This is book #5 of the "Passport--Carole Marsh Mysteries." This book is written for a slightly older audience, probably 4th and 5th graders. There is more plot to this mystery than the "Puzzle" books have, and the story is also longer at 126 pages. This book is about the family's visit to China, including the Great Wall. The kids stumble onto a treasure map, and the race is on to beat the bad guys to the treasure. History and geography are wound into the story in a very enjoyable way. In the back of the book are several "Built-In Book Club" pages, which include discussion topics and activities that relate to the story.

The Mystery on the Great Barrier Reef

This book is #6 of the "Passport - Carole Marsh Mysteries." Like The Mystery of the Great Wall of China, this book has a more intricate plot, but the action takes place in a different international location, Australia. The family visits several different areas of Australia, including, of course, the Great Barrier Reef. Each book in this series visits a different international destination and would be great for your child to read if you were planning a trip to that particular location. This would give them a little knowledge ahead of time and, hopefully, whet their appetites to allow them to discover more in-depth facts in person.

Carole Marsh is a prolific writer for children ages 5-14, depending on the series. At the website, I see six different series listed for kids of all elementary ages. I like Carole Marsh's books, and they are very appropriate for the intended age levels. The plots are adequate to keep a child's interest. My 6th-grade son read all four of them and especially liked The Mystery on the Great Wall of China and The Mystery of the Great Barrier Reef, and he is not what I would call an eager reader at this point. My only caution is that in one of the books the author presents the "old earth" theory as fact; in The Shark Surfer Girl, it is presented as fact that "Sharks have been around for about four million years." Since this is not the focus of the books and is mentioned only in passing, parents can easily discuss the issue with the child if it is a concern. I did not run across any other allusions to evolution in the books I reviewed. These are not Christian books, but rather they are a fictionalized approach to learning about various regions and cultures.

The "Criss Cross" series is geared toward girls, and the "Three Amigos" series would appeal to boys. I would recommend the "Mystery" books for either boys or girls.

Product review by Nancy Wagner, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2007