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Carole Marsh Mysteries Review by Heidi Strawser,Courtney Larson and Jenny Thompson

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

Carole Marsh Mysteries are great books for children in grades 3-5. Though the books are part of a series, each can be read as a stand-alone book.

Carole Marsh has written several series of fun and educational mystery books. The "Real Kids, Real Places" series has 19 books--each one set in a real place in America. Of The Mystery at Walt Disney World, my daughter Gracie (7) says, "I like that the characters are real kids. I like that they call their grandparents Mimi and Papa because that's what I call mine too! I really like that the book is about a real place that I have been because I could picture the places in my head as I read about them. It makes me want to go back to Disney World." Of the eight books in the "Around the World in 80 Mysteries" series, we reviewed The Mystery at Mount Fuji. Gracie's opinion: "It was fun to read about Christina and Grant going to Japan. I liked learning about Mount Fuji. I also liked learning to write some words in Japanese. Can we go there sometime?"

Carole has several others mystery series: "Masters of Disasters" (3 scientific mysteries), "Postcard Mysteries" (3 postcard puzzle stories), "Awesome Mysteries" (2 animal-related mysteries), "Criss-Cross Applesauce" (3 great stories for girls), "Three Amigos" (3 great stories for boys), "Pretty Darn Scary Mysteries" (4 books about legend, lore, history, and mystery), and "Fantasy Field Trips" (3 books set in out-of-this-world locations). Carole has been writing children's mysteries since 1979. She started writing them so that kids would be encouraged to go and see the places that they had read about. What a great homeschool activity! Her locales have changed over time, and some of the places would be impossible to visit today. But the books definitely encourage kids to dream and to want to learn more about the places they are reading about.

On Carole's website, kids can join the Carole Marsh Fan Club, receive a free poster, and even apply to be a character in a future Carole Marsh book! Parents can download free worksheets that correspond to the books, as well as Book Club Discussion Questions and Activities. I love this because the learning can be expanded well beyond the pages of the book.

Carole Marsh has written, and continues to write, great books for kids! We will definitely be purchasing more of them, and I would encourage you to introduce them to your children as well.

Product review by Heidi Strawser, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2008

Another review. . .

Carole Marsh is the author of many mystery books. One of her mystery series is titled “Real Kids, Real Places,” and there are currently 26 books in this series. The two books I was given to review from this series are The Wild Water Mystery at Niagara Falls (#25) and The Colonial Caper Mystery at Williamsburg (#26). Another mystery series she has written is called “Around the World in 80 Mysteries,” though currently it looks as though there are only 14 books available. The book I was given to review from this series is The Rip-Roaring Mystery on the African Safari (#13). Both series are aimed at children in grades 3-6, and the books in both series can be read in any order.

Each book boasts that it includes five SAT words. These words are in bold print in the book, and there is a glossary in the back of the book that defines the words. All of the books also have a “Built-In Book Club” that consists of two parts. The first is subtitled “Talk About It”; it is a series of questions to get children to think and talk about the book. The second part is subtitled “Bring it to Life,” and this section includes a list of activities, projects, and games that children might enjoy doing. Some of these can be done with only one child, but others need a group of children. There is also a list of facts and trivia about the location of the book. In the “Real Kids, Real Places” series, a Pop Quiz and Scavenger Hunt are located in the back of the book as well.

In all the books in both mystery series, the reader goes on an adventure with Christina, Grant, Mimi, and Papa. These four characters are based on the author, her husband, and their two grandchildren. In addition, Carole Marsh includes another set of real children as characters in the “Real Kids, Real Places” series. All of the mystery books take place at real locations, and the author hopes that the readers are able to visit some of the locations after they’ve read her books.

In the three books I read, Christina, Grant, Mimi, and Papa travel to the location in the book title for some sightseeing. Once they arrive, the children are quickly confronted with a mystery they need to solve. In The Wild Water Mystery at Niagara Falls, the children need to figure out why they keep seeing wooden barrels; in The Colonial Caper Mystery at Williamsburg, the children must find a missing map meant for the Queen of England; in The Rip-Roaring Mystery on the African Safari, the children need to discover why a rare white lion is missing. Mimi and Papa give Christina (age 10) and Grant (age 7) a lot of free reign, so the children explore the location and mystery without a lot of supervision from their grandparents. Even though their grandparents aren’t keeping a close eye on them, Christina and Grant purposefully keep their sleuthing hidden from Mimi and Papa, because they know that their grandparents would put a stop to it. As a result, Christina and Grant find themselves in perilous situations, but at the last minute they are saved by the local police as the mystery is solved.

While the idea behind the books is neat, I didn’t love the books. The SAT words are out of place, and it felt to me like the author picked a random sentence, chose a simple word, and replaced it with a word that would qualify as an SAT word. The stories are formulaic, and the conclusions to the mysteries come quite abruptly and are even a little confusing and disappointing. I did like that even though there was some mutual teasing between Christina and Grant, the brother and sister got along well and looked out for each other. It was also interesting to read a little about the different locations of each book. Overall, though, I don’t really recommend either of these mystery series.

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2009

And another one...

Carole Marsh has written many mystery books for children. She has several different series of books, but each of her mysteries has the same premise. The main characters are Carole's own grandchildren, Christina and Grant. They solve mysteries as they travel to various places around the world with Carole and her husband--known to the reader as "Mimi" and "Papa." I was given three books to review from the author's collection. The Breathtaking Mystery on Mt. Everest (The Top of the World) is number 14 in the Around the World in 80 Mysteries series. The Mission Possible Mystery at Space Center Houston (#27) and The Madcap Mystery of the Missing Liberty Bell (#28) are both part of the Real Kids, Real Places series.

All of the Carole Marsh Mysteries are targeted towards children in grades 3-6. These are chapter books that can be used as supplemental material in your homeschool. The characters in these books visit real places and historical facts are presented in each book. As homeschoolers, you and your children can either visit these places or chart them on a map. You can use each book as a springboard for your studies of history. Each mystery book includes five SAT words that are found in bold print throughout the story and then defined in the Glossary at the back of the book. The author adds "Built-In Book Club" sections to the end of each book to encourage children to talk about the story with others who have read it and to give them activities to complete that are based on the story. Teacher guides can be purchased for most of the Carole Marsh Mysteries. If you take a visit to Carole's website (, you can find other activities, including worksheets to download, a fan club to join, and the opportunity to apply to become a character in one of her "Real Kids, Real Places" books.

The books that I had the chance to read are fun and imaginative mysteries that children will love. Children will relate to Christina and Grant as they work together to figure out clues to the mysteries they come across. The characters are funny, and they love each other, even though they squabble at times. I like the way Carole uses onomatopoeia in these books and exaggerates the sound effects by using different fonts to give readers a visual of the sounds being made. I think kids who read the books by themselves will love these built-in sound effects.

At times, the writing style of Mrs. Marsh started to wear on me. She seems to jump quickly from one thing to the next without adequate explanation of what is happening. The author uses bits of potty humor here and there, but I know that children find this kind of writing hilarious, and none of it is too distasteful. Sometimes the children seem to be wandering around without much adult supervision, leading to dangerous situations. Some children are very sensitive to this type of story, so as a parent, you would need to read the story ahead of time to make sure it would not be too scary for your child. Every now and then, I would come across errors that should have been caught during the editing process. It seems that our standards for correct grammar and spelling in literature have been lowered, and it does frustrate me to find these types of errors, especially in children's books.

Overall, I feel I can recommend the Carole Marsh Mysteries to homeschool families, as long as they are being used as supplements to a strong reading program. I found the books to be fun, light-hearted mysteries that children will enjoy picking up and reading on a quiet afternoon. I am impressed by Carole's efforts to make the places and characters accessible to her readers. Homeschoolers will surely find ways to incorporate these stories into areas of study across their curriculum.

Product Review by Jenny Thompson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010