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The Unknowns: A Mysteryby Benedict Carey
Synopses & Reviews
Murder in the lab! The famous forensic scientist Dr. Ramachandran is stone-cold dead, and Ruby Rose’s father is the prime suspect. It’s one more reason for Ruby to hate the Gardens, the funky urban neighborhood to which she has been transplanted. Wise but shy, artistic but an outsider, Ruby must marshal everything and everyone she can to help solve the mystery and prove her father didn’t poison his boss. Everyone? The list isn’t too long: there’s T. Rex, Ruby’s big, goofy but goodhearted friend; maybe those other two weird kids from class; and that mysterious old lady in the apartment upstairs, who seems to know a lot about chemistry . . . which could come in very handy.
Praise for Poison Most Vial
“Carey mixes toxic chemistry and logic problems in his second middle-grade mystery to good, if not great effect. Budding chemists and crime-scene investigators will especially enjoy this science whodunit.”
VOYA Top Shelf for Middle School Readers 2012 list
"This first novel's promising premise — Carey (a New York Times science reporter) uses mathematical equations and theorems as clues to a mystery — sinks under the weight of burdensome plotting and characters' hypothesizing. Spearheading the sleuthing are Di and Tom, seventh-grade misfits determined to find Mrs. Clarke, a kindly neighbor who helps them with their math homework, after she vanishes. The kids live in a bleak trailer park located beside an underground nuclear plant, made all the more unsavory by the nearby dump, Mt. Trashmore, 'an entire rotting universe, reeking like sugary vomit.' Deciphering notations left by Mrs. Clarke, the kids draw a map that leads them to underground tunnels, which they suspect hold the key to the woman's disappearance. The maps — simple diagrams that grow as information is uncovered — help elucidate their discoveries, yet digressions and a steady stream of data ('The Trashmore entrance was eight hundred yards above the x-axis. But the tunnel angled inward one hundred yards for every four hundred it moved downward') may dampen interest in what feels like an extended, if adventurous, story problem. Ages 10 — up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This gripping mystery, spiked with math clues, follows quirky outcasts Lady Di and Tom Jones as they try to save their woebegone island community. In their trailer park next to the Folsom Energy Plant, people have started to vanish, and no one seems to care. At first the kids barely notice the disappearances themselvesand#8212;until their beloved math tutor, Mrs. Clarke, is abducted too. Mrs. Clarke has left them clues to her whereabouts in the form of equations that lead them all over the trailer park, through hidden tunnels under nearby and#8220;Mount Trashmore,and#8221; and into the Folsom Energy Plant itself, where Lady Di and Tom Jones and a gang of other misfits uncover the sordid truth about whatand#8217;s really happening on their island.
Readers and#8220;will be swept up in the fast talk and exciting actionand#8221; (Booklist) of this and#8220;inheritor of The Westing Gameand#8221; (Kirkus) that is sure to make math lovers of even the most determined number-phobes.
In a trailer park called Adjacent, next to the Folsom Energy Plant, people have started to vanish, and no one seems to care. At first Lady Di and her best friend, Tom Jones, barely notice the disappearancesand#151;until their beloved math tutor, Mrs. Clarke, is abducted, too. Mrs. Clarke has left them clues in the form of math equations that lead them all over the trailer park, through hidden tunnels under and#147;Mount Trashmore,and#8221; and into the Folsom Energy Plant itself, where Lady Di and Tom Jones and a gang of other misfits uncover the sordid truth about whatand#8217;s really happening there.
FandP level: Y
About the Author
Benedict Carey, a former Los Angeles Times writer and current New York Times science section writer, was a math and physics major in college, so he knows his geometry. Hoping to ignite a passion for math in his own kids, Benedict decided to craft a smart and action-packed story for middle-grade readers that uses math lessons to solve the mysterious disappearance of their math tutor. He and his wife and children live in a suburb ofand#160;New York City.
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