The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History

Bibliographic Information: Yolen, J., Stemple, H. E. Y., & Roth, R. (2002). The Mary Celeste: An unsolved mystery from history. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Brief Annotation: A young girl who wants to be a detective lays out the true story of the Mary Celeste, a ship that was found abandoned at sea in 1872, with no sign of the captain, his family, or the crew. The narrator provides the reader with a narrative of the known and possible events surrounding the mystery, as well as definitions of possibly new words and an example of a notebook for gathering clues.

Genre: Historical fiction/Nonfiction

Grade Level: 1-5

Readers who will like this: Readers who like mysteries; readers who enjoy history; readers who like reading about sailors

Rating/Response: 4.5; This book in an excellent way to engage students in history. By framing the true story as an unsolved mystery (which it is), it appeals to students who might otherwise avoid books about the past. The book presents the facts of the case in a manner that is easy to understand for mid-elementary school children, and it encourages the reader to draw her or his own conclusions about what happened to the missing crew of the Mary Celeste. While this book would be difficult to present as a read aloud, it would be an excellent book to include in a classroom or home library.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: After a read aloud, I would ask students to decide what they think happened to the missing crew of the Mary Celeste.

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