The National Park Mystery Series
Have you ever wished you could visit different national parks all around the country? Seeing the crystal clear blue waters in Crater National Park. The amazing wildlife and marshlands of Everglades National Park. The incredible colors that look like a painting in Painted Rocks National Park. The massive rock formations in Arches National Park.
But what if they could be more than national parks? What if there was a way to tie a gripping story to each place? A way to make it memorable not just to adults, but to children, also?
What if there was a book series that explored not only the park itself, but explored stories about the park? What if there was a mystery to be solved set against the magnificent backdrop of a national park?
Allow me to introduce you to the National Park Mystery Series. A children’s mystery book series that delivers a compelling story, an intriguing mystery, and incredible family values all set against the backdrop of some of the most awe-inspiring and spectacular places in the United States.
Exploring National Parks
Even though each story in the National Park Mystery Series is set at a different national park, the park itself doesn’t merely serve as a backdrop for a mystery story to happen. Instead, the park becomes almost a character in the book. You see, as you read you begin discovering that the author, Mary Morgan, has woven in a lot of true and interesting facts about the uniqueness of each park. But she does it in such a way that you as the reader don’t realize you’re learning as much as you are about the park!
You learn about the different types of water in the area and plants that grow there. You learn about the animals living in the park and how the animals have symbiotic relationships both with each other and with the plants. You learn about how humans have sometimes introduced new species to the parks and upset the balance of some of these plants and animals. More than that, you develop a true appreciation for these spectacular places.
Mary Morgan gives you a glimpse at a national park where you may not have had the opportunity to explore before. She puts you there at the park, allowing you to feel like you are on an adventure. Allowing you to experience discovering new places, plants, and animals alongside Ben and Becca Cooper.
Incredible Family Values
Mary Morgan’s National Park Mystery Series is not only a good read, it overflows with family values. You see, the whole story centers around twins, Ben and Becca, and their parents. The emphasis and value placed on family in each and every book is incredibly refreshing. Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, Ben, and Becca are a team and enjoy adventures together. They travel together. They laugh together. They work together to accomplish different tasks. They help each other, encourage each other, and challenge each other to learn more and be better.
And yet, you can see the different personalities of each family member on full display. Sometimes their different personalities work together beautifully in harmony and sometimes they cause struggles. But even though the struggles and the harder points of a fully-functioning family are shown, they are never left alone. Each struggle is worked through, resolved, and most importantly, an important lesson is learned through it all.
Respect is another value highlighted in this series. There is no back-talking from the twins to their parents, although conversations and explanations are encouraged. And yet, Ben and Becca are siblings – and twins! They tease each other a fair amount, as any siblings do, but at the same time, their teasing is not hurtful or cutting. It’s a fun and playful sibling teasing. The kind where underneath, you know the other person truly cares about you no matter what.
Even though the Coopers are a family and they are shown as a family, there’s a lot of personality and individuality that shines through each member of the family. You never feel that Ben and Becca are seen as one person, as just “the twins.” Instead, their unique personalities are on full display and celebrated. Both Ben and Becca are seen and appreciated for who they are.
As twins, Ben and Becca share a lot of characteristics. They’re very adventurous and always up for anything. They love to try new things. They enjoy a lot of the same things, but even in their similarities, their uniqueness shines through.
Ben is more of a ‘leap before you look’ kind of guy. He’s one of the first to jump in – sometimes without thinking through what he’s about to do – and he doesn’t like to miss much. His binoculars are one of the most important fixtures in his life. He loves to be able to see birds, animals, and places up close to observe them, to learn more, and to appreciate their intricate design.
Becca is always up for a good time and for exploring and adventure, but she’s a bit more cautious than Ben. In fact, Becca and Ben’s personalities balance each other out quite a bit. Becca loves to find out about the places they visit before they arrive through her books. She also loves her camera and rarely goes anywhere without it. In fact, Becca is the one who photo documents their trips. She has an eye for noticing the small details that many other people miss at first glance.
Even Mr. and Mrs. Cooper’s personalities come out through this series. Both parents love to encourage the spirit of adventure in their children, but at the same time, Mrs. Cooper is a bit more cautious. She wants her twins to explore and have a great time and learn while exploring, but at the same time she’s always ready with a first-aid kit just in case!
Mr. Cooper also loves to encourage their spirit of adventure, but he’s more apt to join the twins in their adventures. He encourages their desire to explore and their natural curiosity while using his skills as a newspaper reporter to help them sharped their observation and deductive reasoning skills.
The Value of Friendship
Throughout the series, as the Cooper family travels and visits many different national parks, they meet many new friends: Park rangers, other sets of twins, families, photographers, and more. No matter where they go, no matter what events are happening around them, the Coopers have this mindset of wanting to meet new people. They’re always on the lookout to make new friends and start fostering a friendship with them.
But at the same time, they’re aware of the people they’re getting to know. Ben and Becca in particular don’t throw caution to the wind and get to know people without thinking. They use caution, trusting their instincts, and talking things through with their parents when they’re not sure of someone. On top of that, Ben and Becca are constantly introducing their new friends to their parents. It shows this constant communication and relationship filled with mutual respect that Mr. and Mrs. Cooper have fostered with their children.
This high priority on friendships shines through the words of these books. Experiencing new places is wonderful, but friendships and relationships make those experiences so much better. The desire to foster new friendships and to see people for who they really are is an incredible quality demonstrated in Ben and Becca.
One of the surprising and striking things in this series is how each of the park rangers that Ben and Becca get to know have such a love for the land and the animals of the park where they work. I find it really interesting how these rangers have such seemingly small parts in the book and yet each of their personalities are very distinct. It makes each one of them very memorable. You start to see these rangers through Ben and Becca’s eyes. To see how deeply they care for the land and the animals they watch over and how they love to make new friends with people who love and appreciate the natural environment they care so deeply for.
Independence vs. Dependence
Throughout this book series, there is a beautiful balance between Ben and Becca’s independence and dependence. You see, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper have given Ben and Becca freedom and independence to learn and explore and make new friends. But at the same time they are given boundaries. It’s wonderful to watch how this nurturing and encouraging relationships plays out. Ben and Becca include their parents in their friendships and every aspect of their lives. They depend on their parents and highly regard their opinions and wisdom while at the same time learning how to be more and more independent from them.
Yes, these books share a lot of adventures and activities that Ben and Becca do on their own, but at the same time so many of the activities involve their parents. It’s so refreshing to see how parents are not portrayed as the enemy or as adults to be avoided at all costs, but sources of teaching, protection, and wisdom.
Learning is Not Just in Books
Learning is a lifelong pursuit. Yet, not everyone learns the same way. Some people gravitate to learning through books and research. Some learn better through experiences and hands-on situations. Some learn better when they hear things out loud. Most people benefit from a combination of these different styles.
Watching Ben and Becca learn through their experiences is spectacular. Throughout each book, throughout each situation, Ben and Becca are encouraged to learn. But not only to lean through one method, but through many different methods.
For example, Becca has a book about national parks that she references and learns from. She has her camera and loves taking photos as another way to learn about the wildlife and unique features of the national parks they visit.
Ben loves his binoculars. He uses them to examine things up close to learn more about them. In addition to that, Ben learns a great deal by asking questions and listening to the answers. He asks questions both of his parents and of park rangers they meet. He even learns things from Becca when she shares information from her book research – although Ben would rather not admit that he learns as much as he does from his sister!
There are so many avenues of learning explored and encouraged in these books. From lectures to books to hands on activities to crafts to experiences. No one method is held in higher esteem than the others, rather it’s the learning itself that is held up and encouraged.
Ben and Becca and their parents also tap into the knowledge of the rangers at each national park they visit. It’s amazing to think how these people spend all their time working with and protecting the national parks. In spending so much of their time in one park, these rangers have such a vast knowledge of the plants, animals, and land they watch over. The Coopers appreciate this knowledge and learn from those who have studied this particular area and experienced it firsthand.
Now, you may think from the title of the series that Ben and Becca go looking for trouble or a mystery to solve. The reality is that they go to these different national parks intending to have fun, to meet new people, and to have new experiences. Yet, it seems that mystery and intrigue seem to find the Coopers. Through keeping their eyes open, noticing things around them and paying attention, Ben and Becca find themselves helping to solve different mysteries that emerge at the parks.
One of the most intriguing elements of these mysteries is that they’re situations where you as the reader really want Ben and Becca and the rangers to find a solution. It doesn’t feel like a made-up scenario, but a true challenge that faces the national park. In short, the more you read, the more you want Ben and Becca to solve the mystery!
Each mystery is intriguing. It is a problem you want to see resolved. It’s a problem that poses a serious challenge to the national park where the Coopers are visiting. And yet, this book was written for younger elementary students so the mysteries are not scary. There are chapters that leave you hanging, wanting to keep going, to find out what happens next. But at the same time, the story doesn’t leave you hanging. There’s always a resolution. There’s always a balance of fun and family with the unknown and the mystery.
Through it all, you come face to face with the fact that Ben and Becca are not super sleuths. They’re normal kids who have learned how to pay attention to what’s happening around them. They take what they see, they get the information to the correct people, and in doing so, they’re able to help in big ways. Most notably, by helping to solve a mystery in every national park they visit.
Double Trouble in the Everglades
Our family started reading this mystery series a bit out of order. You see, we were studying Florida as part of our US geography curriculum and decided to read ‘Double Trouble in the Everglades’ because it’s set in Everglades National Park.
While we weren’t entirely sure what to expect when we first opened the cover, this book quickly won over everyone in our family. The writing is clear and simple, making it very easy to understand even for little ones. Yet, it wasn’t boring. In fact, the writing was engaging and left you wanting to read more and more – even as an adult! There were many days when we would have to stop reading to move to our next school task and yet my children would beg me to read more.
In this book, Ben and Becca are able to visit Everglades National Park to participate in a sporting event: biking, hiking through a swamp, and canoeing. This sporting event was not set up as a win or lose race, through. Instead, the focus of the event was to get kids out into nature. To show them the beauty of the park, the animals, and the plants that live there and to give them incredible experiences. In fact, there were prizes given out not only for finishing the events quickly, but for spotting wildlife, and having the most exciting adventure to tell.
This book gives you a glimpse of Everglades National Park, including the animals and plants that live there, that most people don’t get to see. There are details woven into the story that seem nonchalant. Details that enhance the story and make it more real. But the more you read through the story, you realize the details you thought were commonplace are actually details that will help you solve the mystery with Ben and Becca.
True to form, Ben and Becca don’t go to the Everglades looking for a mystery. They go to have fun, make new friends, and learn about another incredible national park. But when animals start to go missing, the twins know they can’t sit back and do nothing. They work with the park rangers to help them save and protect the incredible animals that call the Everglades home.
But don’t think for a moment this book doesn’t have it’s share of excitement! Bird sightings, close run-ins with wildlife, and Ben’s desire to be in a picture with an alligator all come through as you walk this incredible journey with Ben and Becca.
The National Park Mysteries are a fun, engaging read that will delight boys and girls alike. They’re written for elementary age students, and yet the intriguing journey will hold the attention of younger ones and adults alike. Family values are held high while Mary Morgan delivers a gripping story line and a thrilling adventure to keep you wondering what will happen next.
If you’re looking for a children’s mystery book series that everyone can not only enjoy, but connect with, look no further! On top of that, these books are packed with true facts about places many people have never had the opportunity to visit, but are sometimes in your own backyard. At the time of this review, there are 8 books in this series: Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks, The Face at Mount Rushmore, Spies in Disguise at Gettysburg, Snow Den at Yellowstone, Double Trouble in the Everglades, Twisted Trails in Grand Canyon, Two if by Tea in Boston, and Lava Chasers at Volcanoes National Park.
Click this link to purchase your copy of these books and start enjoying them for yourself. This will take you directly to the author’s website where she will personally autograph your books when you purchase them! These books are an incredible read for the whole family and I cannot recommend them enough. What are you waiting for? Start your adventure today!
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Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.