Cover of The Mary Celeste by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple

History Mystery: The Mary Celeste

The History Mystery series:

I had the idea for a series of true unsolved mysteries from history in picture book form because of my daughter Heidi’s interest in criminal justice. (She’s been both a probation officer and a private detective.) We began with the classic mystery of the Mary Celeste, the ship found floating in the ocean with its entire crew missing. Carefully we set out all the clues. The book ends with some of the theories that have been offered over the years. It is one of the fifteen nominees for the 2002-2003 Prairie Pasque Award (Grades 4 – 6) sponsored by the South Dakota Library Association.

See Heidi’s description of this book.

What reviewers have said:

  • “Fans of detective stories will be thrilled to try their hands at solving this true historic mystery. … Warm, double-page watercolors with details highlighted in pencil show each aspect of the discovery and exploration of the derelict ship, and enhance the drama of the story. Maritime terms and supplemental information on the individuals involved appear on panels drawn to resemble sticky notes and lined notebook papers that are superimposed on the illustrations. The book includes a listing of a half dozen of the most popular theories, accompanied by questions that can be answered from the text, thus encouraging readers to exercise keen observation and deductive reasoning to form their own opinions. While the answers to the mystery of the Mary Celeste may never be known, this is an intriguing story.”” — School Library Journal
  • “Mother-daughter team Yolen and Stemple. . .spin a suspenseful account and add further significance and factual detail through the clever informal format. Roth’s watercolor-and-pencil artwork combines realistic nautical touches with the human camaraderie of life at sea. Young Sherlocks will be eager to set sail on this team’s next course.” — Publisher’s Weekly
  • “One of the authors is a former private detective and so, to treat this old story as a puzzle that needs to be pieced together makes sense. … The story ends with the little girl suggesting that the reader come up with his or her own theories. This is a big and beautiful book with wonderful illustrations.” — Maria Pereira – Children’s Literature
  • “An intriguing book for history buffs, mystery buffs, and classroom discussion.” — Booklist
  • “Whatever the reason was for the disappearance of the people from the Mary Celeste, it is still a compelling and thought-provoking story which has been superbly presented here. Complete with word lists, background information, and much more, this book is sure to interest young sleuths of all ages.” — Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Review

See the review from Rambles – a cultural arts magazine (on the Web).

Available in hardcover.