[Nonfiction Wednesday] John Townsend’s Amazing Mysteries Series: “Unsolved Crimes” and “Gone Missing”

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Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2015 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, as well as reading challenges that we have pledged to join this year.

Our reading theme for November – December: The Butler Did It! MysteREADventure!

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There is an entire nonfiction section in our library devoted to just these kinds of books, and boy, was I excited to discover it. These are among the titles that I found which fit our current reading theme: Mystereadventure.

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Unsolved Crimes: A Book of Ghastly Crimes and Dark Mysteries

Written by: John Townsend
Published by: Smart Apple Media, 2010
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The book begins with a description of “the perfect crime” or essentially, how to get away with murder. This sets the tone for the entire book that highlights various crime files from the 1800s in Glasgow, 1892 in New England, to the 1970s in London, 1980 in Uluru Australia, 1996 in the United States. The author also highlighted the invisible weapon (poison!) and a killer umbrella possibly used by a Russian KGB or the Bulgarian secret service:

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I like how each of the unsolved cases are densely packed in just a few pages – it’s similar to watching a real-life unsolved murder mystery on TV, especially with the insertions of actual case files and photographs. I was also particularly intrigued to know how Prince Albert Edward Victor known as the Duke of Clarence was suspected of being Jack the Ripper. That’s a new one for me.

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I anticipate a lot of reluctant readers picking up this book – the book design and layout are dynamic, the text is immensely readable and in fact even demands for more information from an experienced reader. It also comes with a glossary in the end and a number of internet resources that young detectives might want to check out.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

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Gone Missing: A Book of Strange Disappearances and Unexplained Events

Written byJohn Townsend
Published by: Smart Apple Media, 2010
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Similar to Unsolved Crimes, Gone Missing presents snapshots of unsolved disappearances either at sea, lighthouses, or people who simply vanished seemingly from thin air. This one has a little bit of the strange and weird embedded into it, as can be seen in the case of David Lang in 1880 who disappeared in mid-step in full view of several people.

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Naturally, the Bermuda Triangle and the strange disappearances around it have been mentioned here. While I know of this, it was different reading factual accounts about these practically inconceivable disappearances that do not appear to have logical explanations to them.

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As can be seen above, the juxtaposition of photographs, intelligent speculations of various investigators, and a good pacing to the narrative all contribute to how engaging the book is. There are also references to ghost ships and UFOs for those who enjoy reading about conspiracy theories. Clearly, these are books that deserve a second look from discerning teachers and librarians.

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#nfpb2015 Challenge Update: 65, 66 (25)

  1. Those look fantastic! I bet they would pair well with Sarah Albee’s or Georgia Bragg’s books. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I know that there are many older students who will love these, Myra. When I took my students to Yellowstone Park, they found a book at the store there about gruesome deaths in Yellowstone, and proceeded to read it to each other on the rest of the trip! Thanks for the reviews. The books look interesting.

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  3. Truth is stranger than fiction for sure sometimes!

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  4. […] week, Myra wrote about John Townsend’s Amazing Mystery Series and mentioned the Bermuda Triangle. This week, I have two juvenile non-fiction books that talk in […]

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