MYSTERY & MAYHEM series for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I’m putting aside my fiction reviews this week to delve into what initially peaked my  interest in reading: the fantastic titles available in non-fiction. New out this week are the first two books in the MYSTERIES & MAYHEM series – SURVIVAL along with PIRATES AND SHIPWRECKS.


The stories included in each book make history come alive and have enough mystery and adventure to keep even the most reluctant reader interested.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2016   PAGE COUNT for each title: 128


5186ap8-jWL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_This book has five stories set on the high seas. Three are from the 1800s, and the remaining two from the 1500s and 1700s. My favorite of the bunch (Fiercer Than Most Men) tells the life story of Mary Reed who dressed as a man and became one of the most feared pirates. I’m sure she could take me down in about two seconds. The other stories are equally compelling. No Hollywood movie type tales here. They are each an accurate recounting of some of the most interesting events in our world’s past.

Full Plot (from AMAZON) Pirates and Shipwrecks: True Stories is the first book in the Mystery & Mayhem series for 9–12 year olds, which features true tales that whet kids’ appetites for history by engaging them in genres with proven track records—mystery and adventure. History is made of near misses, unexplained disappearances, unsolved mysteries, and bizarre events that are almost too weird to be true—almost! The Mystery & Mayhem series delves into the past to provide kids with a jumping-off point into a lifelong habit of appreciating history.

Each of the true tales in Pirates and Shipwrecks, including stories about pirate Barbarossa and adventurer John Franklin, is paired with interesting facts about the setting, industry, and time period. A glossary and index provide the opportunity to use essential academic tools. These nonfiction narratives use clear, concise language with compelling plots, drawing in both avid and reluctant readers.


Before the first of five stories is told, the author asks the question Would You Survive? 51ZonqgCOJL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_If they happened in present time, maybe, but not when each historical event occurred more than 100 years ago. Antarctica, the Pacific Ocean, Death Valley, or the Sierra Nevada Mountains are not places to be caught unprepared.

It’s a gripping and honest portrayal of what life must have been like in the face of death when technology or close-by help was absent. You may recognize a few of the names like Donner, Shackleton, or Bligh but their stories delve deeper into the times and reasons why they got themselves in such dire straights.

Full Plot (from Nomad Press) Tales of survival are as old as humanity! In Survival: True Stories, the second book of the Mystery & Mayhem series, readers discover accounts of survival that required innovation, a thirst for adventure, and even a bit of brutality. Whether it’s Shackleton on the frozen landscape of Antarctica or William Bligh and his loyal followers adrift in the Pacific after mutiny on the Bounty, survival is a fascinating topic for readers ages 9 to 12!

Each of the five true tales told within Survival are paired with interesting facts about the setting, the industry, and the time period. A glossary and index also provide the opportunity to practice using essential academic tools. These nonfiction narratives use clear, concise language with compelling plots that both avid and reluctant readers will be drawn to.


  1. A handy world map is displayed at the start of each story. There’s also a brief timeline to set the stage for what is about unfold.
  2. The chapters end with a look at what else was going on in the world during that same year. A real historical goldmine of events.
  3. A three page glossary of words is a nice addition so any unfamiliar words can be learned in an instant.
  4. The pages are laid out in readable fashion with plenty of space between paragraphs and large type.
  5. Great read-alouds for the classroom or the campfire! Also a perfect portal to get kids interested in history.


The 18 men crowded in the very small boat knew that they were going to die. They also knew, without a whisper of doubt, that their deaths were going to be slow and painful. After all, there was very little food in the boat and only a bit of water to drink. They were 3,000 miles from safety, across a wide ocean.

(You’ll have to read for yourself to discover how many of the men did survive…)


Tom McCarthy has been an award-winning writer and editor for more than twenty-five years. As an editor and ghostwriter for various publishers in New York City, Maine, and Connecticut, he developed and edited titles that have won such awards as Harvard University’s Goldsmith Award for Book of the Year; Readers Digest Top Five Summer Books; Sports Illustrated’s Top Books of the Year; and Esquire’s The Year’s Five Best Reads, among others. As the series editor for several best-selling collections, including Incredible Pirate Tales, Ghost Pirates, and Incredible Tales of the Sea, he has developed a knack for finding great stories for readers of all ages. He lives in Guilford, Connecticut.


Make a comment below if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


Planning for the future

I’m already planning reviews for 2017. My new posting schedule is Monday (like always) and a weekend post on Friday morning.

I usually scribble my appointments and review schedule on a flimsy monthly page I print out from the computer. Recently I came across a new weekly/monthly planner I eventually purchased for my mom. I loved it so much I got one for myself. THE JOYFUL HEART PLANNER is creative and of course colorful. I like the coloring page that precedes each month and the spacious features to keep track of notes, budget, and whatever else.

productTake a look at the JOYFUL HEART PLANNER website to see more. If you need a fun, colorful way to plan the future, it’s one you’ll want to have on hand for next year.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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17 Responses to MYSTERY & MAYHEM series for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like two good books kids might like because of the topics. I’m planning out for 2017 too. Been working on it since this summer.

  2. Mary Reed sounds very courageous and tough. I love that for this age group. These sound like a great change of pace for MGers.

  3. I like books that introduce kids to history. They sound like engaging reads. Survivor really caught my attention. The author has so much going for him with this series.

  4. These sound like so much fun – the kind of books I would have loved to read as a kid and that kids still like today, testing their mettle to see if they would survive dangerous situations in relative safety.

  5. I love narrative non-fiction! I’ll have to check these out.

  6. As a kid, I remember how much I loved these sorts of books. Not fiction, but also not dry. These sound excellent. Thanks!

  7. Susan says:

    These sound like good pics for reluctant readers. Thanks for highlighting them.

  8. Justin says:

    These books sound amazing! Love the intrigue. I’ve never read into this type of genre, but I might give it a try.

  9. Joanne Fritz says:

    Pirates are always a great topic (I’m laughing at the idea of Mary Reed taking you down in about two seconds. You and me both!). And survival — wow! Some exciting tales there. I should read more nonfiction.

  10. cleemckenzie says:

    I have the perfect kids (well, not all the time) for these books!

  11. warrchick says:

    Narrative nonfiction can be such a delight, and with pirates and survival stories, the win is certain! Thanks for the recommend, and good luck planning 2017!

  12. jennienzor says:

    I’m always on board for interesting nonfiction. Some kids really prefer it. And I love that this is an interesting way to get kids interested in history, which some kids strangely think is boring. Thanks for featuring these!

  13. These books sound right up my alley. I will definitely check them out. I have my whole life on my phone calendar. I love having reminders for everything I have to do. But I must admit I kind of miss having a paper planner. There is something about having it all there to easily peruse that’s nice. Thanks for the post.

  14. diegosdragon says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE History! Taught it for a while in college. Amazing how it repeats itself. What is that old saying 🙂 Thanks for the recommendations.

  15. Sue Heavenrich says:

    Ahoy matey, I just got me an envelope with these here two books in it… so will have a chance to read & review them meself. Can’t wait!

  16. These would both be perfect not only for my non-fiction loving son, but also for my classroom. My students would love them. Thanks for highlighting some non-fiction titles–they are too often overlooked. 🙂

  17. Pingback: GREAT ESCAPES from NOMAD PRESS | Always in the Middle…

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