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     SUDDENLY THE GARBAGE CAN GASPED. It trembled. It burped and yurped. It belched and yelched.

     All in all, it was very scary indeed.

     Drake and Nell immediately went to work. They pulled on surgical gloves. Snap!

     Gabby edged toward the door. “You’re not going to take off the lid, are you?”

     “If there’s a monster inside,” Drake replied, “removing the lid would be most foolish. Now, stand back, we’ll take it from here.”

In this chapter book series, real science is seamlessly woven into four separate mysteries solved by Science Detectives Drake Doyle and Nell Fossey. In this series opener, Doyle and Fossey are on a mission—a monster mission! It seems there’s a giant bloodsucking monster gasping and gurgling in their friend Gabby’s garbage can. Can they figure out what’s up before the creature gobbles Gabby for lunch? This and three more cool cases will have kids checking out the clues and learning great science too, including facts about the life cycle of a frog and chromatography.


Ages 8-11, Sterling 2009, ISBN 0-525-46657-6.

  • Included in 2009 Reading Street educational materials, grade 4, published by Pearson

  • Included in 2008 Open Court Reading Program educational materials, grade 4, published by SRA/McGraw-Hill.

The Case of the Gasping Garbage


Doyle & Fossey Books
Mossy Lake

The Case of the Mossy Lake Monster


     AT FIVE-THIRTY IN THE MORNING, Drake and Nell stood at the water’s edge. Mist hung over the lake, and everything looked just a tad creepy.

     “Ready, Scientist Nell?” asked Drake.

     “Ready as I’ll ever be.” Nell snapped on her life preserver, grabbed an oar, and climbed into the boat. They pulled away from shore, rowing and rowing, until they reached the center of the lake.

     And there they lowered their secret weapon. Code 61.

Is there a creepy creature lurking in Mossy Lake? Is an evil plot stirring? Is something shocking happening to Caitlin’s cat Zappy, and can he be de-zapped? Would-be scientists and detectives will want to slip into their lab coats, dust off their test tubes, and get on the case with Drake Doyle and Nell Fossey. Hint: to find the answers, kids will have to use such scientific principles as buoyancy and static electricity.


Ages 8-11, Sterling, 2009, ISBN 0-525-46815-3.

  • A Junior Library Guild selection.

Graveyard Ghost

The Case of the Graveyard Ghost


     “WELCOME TO THE GREATEST GHOST SHOW ON EARTH!” Sloane waved her arms around and said, “Abracadabra! Presto chango! Hocus-pocus! Alakazam!”


     And then, just as Nell was about to smugly cross her arms, there appeared . . . a ghost.

     A chill swept up Nell’s spine as both the ghost and the wind began to howl.

     “Oh my gosh,” whispered Nell. “I can’t believe it. It’s real . . .”

Who you gonna call to ghostbust a graveyard spook? Doyle and Fossey, that’s who! They’re on the job and ready to reveal the truth about that pesky ghost! The four mysterious cases in this book are followed by related activities or experiments kids can try at home. Mysteries include a snotty girl stuck in a laundry chute (chemical reactions), a flower contest gone bad (capillary action), a money-grubbing ghost (virtual images), and kidnapped parrots (the illegal wildlife trade). 


Ages 8-11, Sterling, 2009, ISBN 0-525-46893-5.

  • A Junior Library Guild selection

  • 2005 Rhode Island State Children’s Book Award nominee.

Barfy Birthday

The Case of the Barfy Birthday



     “It’s my twin sister, Chloe.” Zoe pointed across the emergency room lobby. Both Drake and Nell gasped as Chloe bent over a basin on her lap and . . . well . . . barfed.

     “Eew,” said Zoe.

     “Ugh,” said Nell.

     “Oh dear,” said Drake.

     Nell flipped open her lab notebook. “Why don’t you take it from the top, Ms. Jackson.”

     Zoe nodded.  She cleared her throat. “You see . . .”

     “Yes?” asked Drake, his pencil poised over his notebook.

     “Yes?” asked Nell, tapping her foot.

     Finally Zoe looked them square in the eye. “I think I poisoned my sister.”

Did Zoe really poison her twin sister Chloe? What’s the best way to rescue a super-sized pig trapped in a deep, deep hole? And how can you stop a chilly ghost from wrecking a tree-house sleepover? Fifth-grade supersleuths (and science whizzes) Doyle and Fossey are about to find out—and young readers will love learning the solutions! Mysteries include a barfy birthday party (epidemiology), endangered terns (habitat destruction), a treehouse haunting (sublimation), and the rescue of a pig from a pit (simple machines).


Ages 8-11, Sterling, 2009, ISBN 0-525-47107-3.

  • A Junior Library Guild selection.

Crooked Carnival

The Case of the Crooked Carnival


     “IT’S HOPELESS,” June told Drake Doyle and Nell Fossey. “How can I possibly win? Mom, Dad, Joe, Jay, Joy, Joan, John, Jean, Jane, Jenn, Jeb, Jed, and little Judd Junior will be so disappointed.” As June dabbed her eyes, there arose a rumpus around the carnival booth.

     “We have a WINNER!” Shady Jim hollered.

     June gasped.

     Drake broke the lead in his pencil.

     Nell hit the wrong calculator button.

      “It’s Baloney!” they all cried. “He won!”

Science super-sleuths Drake Doyle and Nell Fossey are back! They’ve got an exciting collection of cases, too:  Are ghosts and ghouls keeping Edgar Glum awake? Have aliens invaded Mossy Swamp?  What’s the crooked game everyone’s losing at the carnival? And why is the town bridge going bananas? Kids will have fun following the clues—and learning about such real scientific principles as amplification, ecosystems, magnetic fields, and resonance. Plus, budding Doyle and Fosseys will find actual experiments to try. 


(Ages 8-11, Sterling, June 2010, ISBN 978-1-4027-4965-0.)


This guide provides additional activities that expand on the stories, concepts, and activities introduced in THE CASE OF THE CROOKED CARNIVAL, book five in the DOYLE AND FOSSEY: SCIENCE DETECTIVES series.

Terrible T. rex

The Case of the Terrible T. rex


     “BEHOLD,” cried Frisco. “The one and only . . . the best, the most fabulous and horrifying . . . ha ha! . . . BEAST!” And he whipped the curtain open.

     “Oh my gosh!” cried Nell, her jaw dropping.

     “Great Scott!” cried Drake, his knees turning to jelly.

     Woof! Woof! cried Dr. Livingston, who hid behind Nell.

      “Eek!” cried the crowd.

      “I can’t believe it!” cried Pepper. “It’s . . . it’s . . . it’s a T. rex!”

Hang onto your lab notebooks as Doyle and Fossey investigate werewolves on Waxberry Hill, a perilous picnic, a fiesta fiasco, and a dino-disaster…involving a T. rex! Kids will learn all about pressure on the Earth's core, how pollution affects ecology, radio waves, and paleontology. After kids solve the four mysterious cases in this book, they can try out the fun activities themselves. All they have to do is take the lids off their specimen jars, brush up on their Morse code, and they’re ready to go!  


Ages 8-11, Sterling, Sept. 2010. ISBN 978-1-4027-4966-7.


This guide provides additional activities that expand on the stories, concepts, and activities introduced in THE CASE OF THE TERRIBLE T. rex, book six in the DOYLE AND FOSSEY: SCIENCE DETECTIVES series. 

Chronicles of Courage Books

Voyage of Ice


     The water became darker, black almost, and I knew from the surge in my blood it was a whale rising. Close, too close! Before I could cry out, the whale erupted from the water with a blast from his blowhole. A mist stung me, a stench of rot, as the whale’s body blotted out the sun, his vast form suspended in the air. . . .

All Nick ever wanted was to be a whaling captain, like his father before him. What could be more glorious than the life of a sailor, battling mighty sperm whales and returning home rich as Midas? So when his older brother, Dexter, signs aboard the Sea Hawk, Nick won’t stand to be left behind. But life at sea is very different from what either Dexter or Nick expected. The whales are monstrous, and hunting them is a perilous occupation. The boys are mercilessly overworked by a cruel and dangerous captain. The officers think nothing of beating the crewmen within an inch of their lives. And that’s only the beginning! When an awful turn of fate traps them in the harsh Arctic winter, Nick and Dexter find themselves in a battle for their very lives. 


Ages 10+, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2004. 

  • Nominated for the ‘05-‘06 Maine Student Book Award

  • Nominated for the 2007 Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award.


This discussion guide is perfect for classrooms or book clubs!

Voyage of Plunder

Voyage of Plunder


     They slipped in and out like ghosts, shadows dancing from wall to wall. They talked in low whispers with my father. . . .

Daniel Markham loved his father’s mysterious friends, visiting in the dead of night but always gone by morning. He never imagined they could be pirates. But when the Markhams’ merchant vessel is plundered by the pirate ship, Tempest Galley, and his father shot dead, Daniel can’t deny the truth. And now, orphaned and alone, Daniel is trapped and faced with a choice: join the crew or die. As the Tempest Galley sets sail for the Red Sea, where finding treasure ships is as easy as dropping a bucket of pitch, Daniel vows to avenge his father. But nothing is that simple. Unprepared for the temptations of pirate life and for the captain’s inexplicable kindness toward him, Daniel knows only one thing for certain: one false step on a pirate ship could be deadly, and he’ll do anything to stay alive.


Ages 10+, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2005.

  • Winner of the Zola Award

  • Finalist for the 2007 Washington State Book Award

  • Nominated for the 2007 Sakura Medal

  • Nominated for the 2008 Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award


This discussion guide is perfect for classrooms or book clubs!

Voyage of Midnight

Voyage of Midnight


     I never saw my father. He was a seafaring man and died before I was born, lost overboard in the middle of an Atlantic gale. . . .


Philip is an orphan and has spent most of his life suffering the cruelties of the workhouse. So when he learns he has an uncle—and not just any uncle, but a rich uncle, captain of his own ship—he sets off for New Orleans to find him. It’s a challenge to track down one man in a bustling port city, but even when a kindly family takes him in as their own son, Philip won’t give up his quest. And one day, his persistence is rewarded. Not only does he locate his last living relative, but Uncle offers him the position of surgeon's mate on his ship, the Formidable. Philip couldn't be happier; at last, he's found his family! But little does he know the purpose of the journey he's about to embark on: Uncle is a slave trader, and the ship is bound for Africa to collect their cargo.

Caught between his lifelong desire for a family and the promise of a better life, and the shocking brutality he witnesses aboard the Formidable, Philip must open his eyes and decide for himself the true meaning of family, freedom, and humanity.


Ages 10+, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2006.

  • Chosen for the 2006 New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing list

  • Starred review in “Kirkus"

  • Named one of the “Best Children’s Books of the Year” by the Children’s Book Committee, 2006.


This discussion guide is perfect for classrooms or book clubs!

To the Edge of the World

To the Edge of the World


     On the first day of June, in the year of our Lord 1519, I, Mateo Macías de Ávila, a Spaniard by birth, buried my parents. . . . Afterward, I burned the farm.


Orphaned by the plague, penniless, and without friends, Mateo must find his way in the world. What he stumbles upon in a dirty, noisy inn is the adventure of a lifetime. Soon Mateo is at sea, a cabin boy on the celebrated voyage of Captain-General Ferdinand Magellan. The destination is secret, but the crew whispers that Magellan will be the first to visit the Spice Islands of the East by going west—and everyone will return with untold riches.

Life at sea is backbreaking, but for Mateo it is home. He soon discovers the meaning of friendship, loyalty, and hard work, as well as the delight of first love. But when the sea rages and brother turns against brother, Mateo and Magellan are both in danger—and it’s not clear if anyone will survive.


Ages 12+, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2003.

  • A Junior Library Guild selection

  • Starred review “Publishers Weekly”

  • VOYA “Top Shelf Fiction for Middle-School Readers”

  • Named “Best Book of the Year” by Mercury News


This discussion guide is perfect for classrooms or book clubs!

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