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Review: Summer Camp Science Mysteries #5-8

Review: Summer Camp Science Mysteries #5-8
Written by Lynda Beauregard; Illustrated by German Torres & Der-shing Helmer
All Ages (8-12)
Graphic Universe, April 2013

The world is full of mysteries, but fortunately, we have science to help us solve them and better understand the world around us. At least, that’s what the campers in this series try to do. At Camp Dakota Summer Camp, there’s horseback riding, swimming, hiking, and, it seems, a mystery around every corner.

Each volume of Summr Camp Science Mysteries follows the same cast of campers and counselors and takes on a mystery that revolves around a science topic. In The Missing Cuckoo Clock: A Mystery about Gravity, the campers learn about how gravity affects them, from balancing on a ball in the lake to their height. The missing cuckoo clock is more of a background story as it disappears and mysteriously reappears—but no longer working properly. The campers use the knowledge they’ve gained about gravity to figure out why and how that happened.

The Whispering Lake Ghosts: A Mystery about Sound focuses on mysterious voices that can be heard down by the lake. The campers make flutes and learn how to amplify sounds, but when two of the campers try to track down the voices, they get lost in the woods during a rainstorm, which turns out to be the key to the mystery.

The Great Space Case: A Mystery about Astronomy has the campers breaking up into teams in order to solve riddles to win a mysterious prize. But one team doesn’t play fair when getting their answers. They learn about the constellations and design a base on the moon. The cheaters are outed, and the winning team gets their astronomical prize.

In Yucky Duck Rescue: A Mystery about Pollution, the campers find a duck tangled with some plastic and try to help it, and they discover algae growing fast in the lake. They follow the stream that feeds the lake, find a campground covered in litter, and eventually track down the source of the algae growth. And with a little help, finally catch the duck to free it.

I really enjoyed these books. Each one worked the science into the story organically. It made sense for the counselors or campers to be talking about the topic. In The Missing Cuckoo Clock, when Megan wants to go horseback riding in the afternoon, she is told she is too short, but to come back in the morning. When she does, she is suddenly tall enough, and it’s explained why. Braelin’s fear of thunder and lightning is relieved somewhat in The Whispering Lake Ghosts, when thunder is explained as a sound wave that travels. The clues in The Great Space Case were fun to figure out and could easily be worked out with context from the story and a little thought. As the campers go on their hike in The Yucky Duck Rescue, the signs of pollution are unfortunately easy to see, from litter to acid rain to erosion.

Every book also features several projects that can be easily replicated. Within the story, the campers learn and do easy crafts, like making a water clock, a flute from a cardboard tube, and a pinhole viewer. There are also 1-2 experiments at the end that readers can try. There are definitions for words used in the story and some facts about the science topic used in the story.

The art is a little uneven, as the books alternate between two artists. Helmer’s art felt more consistent in the character designs. In the books where Torres was the artist, the characters felt just a little off, even though everyone was recognizable.

The Summer Camp Science Mysteries were a quick and entertaining read. They get across their scientific topic in a fun and insightful way and introduce problem-solving thought processes that can be used beyond science class. They would make a good supplement to science concepts for grades 3-6. The story and art can also help reluctant readers understand some of the concepts better.

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Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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