Pack ‘n Go girl, Izzy Bennett, just docked in the lagoon at Barra de Navidad in Mexico. But it’s not the fun in the sun vacation she was hoping for. First of all, it’s not busy. And it should be. She wonders what’s going on. Her family arrives to learn that most visitors are avoiding the place. So, what’s keeping tourists away and can Izzy do anything to help? First, let’s find out who the Pack ‘n Go Girls are.
About the Pack ‘n Go Girls Series
This book is the first of several from the Pack ‘n Go Girls series I will be reviewing in the coming weeks. Who are the Pack ‘n Go Girls? They are a diverse set of girls on separate adventures around the world with their families. These chapter books by either Janelle Diller or Lisa Travis are perfect early chapter books for kids between the ages of six and nine. The illustrations by Adam Turner, shared sporadically throughout the book, help readers visualize the story.
You can find all of their books and additional information via their website.
Pack ‘n Go Girls provided me with the books for review, but all opinions are my own.
Mystery of the Thief in the Night
Izzy Bennett has a lot on her mind. She’s with her family aboard the Dream Catcher for a year-long sailing trip around Mexico. And that’s got her worried. Worried about the boat crashing into another boat, being overtaken by a wave, or getting lost.
She’s also concerned about find friends with each new place she visits.
When the boat docks at the lagoon at Barra de Navidad her emotions are all over the place. They’re not sailing, so they’re safe. But, where are the kids? She immediately finds and befriends a local girl named Patti. Patti’s mom owns the local hotel and restaurant.
Through Patti Izzy soon discovers that the lagoon is no longer a popular tourist destination. It’s now a very dangerous place.
She learns that a thief has been stealing dinghies at night. Scared tourists don’t want to dock in Barra de Navidad anymore, and this is hurting Patti’s family’s business. Unfortunately, once suspicion turns to Patti’s brother, they decide it’s up to them to clear his name.
They make it their mission to find the thief. Do they succeed? Well, I can’t give it away!
Mystery of the Thief in the Night book review
Whether you are interested in the culture of Mexico for purely educational reasons, or if Mexico is in your travel plans, this book is a good fit. Budding readers will enjoy a good chapter book that’s easier to read, but has a mystery to propel the story.
And the story does propel. Mystery of the Thief in the Night accomplishes a lot of things. It’s a mystery with a strong sense of place. It shares the experiences and difficulties of long term travel and life in a tourist town. It examines how kids in different cultures deal with family relations and obligations. And it does this while still remembering that the reader is between the ages of six and nine.
How do they accomplish this? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with the strong character development. Patti and Izzy share their personal life perspectives that, while unique and so different from most kids, are easily relatable. Because of that, we get a good glimpse into their worlds.Let Izzy and Patti show you Mexico with the @PacknGoGirls #kidsbooks Click To Tweet
The main characters: Izzy and Patti
Take Izzy. She’s having this amazing experience sailing with her family, but she has concerns like any other girl her age would have. She finds ways to push through those fears and faces them. She’s both reserved about these opportunities, but ready to face them. We learn so much about her life, things young readers might question. Her formal education doesn’t stop just because she’s away from school. She still has math homework, for example. She’s hesitant to practice her Spanish even though she’s in Mexico.
Best of all, we see Mexico through her lens. Her observations fall in line with what the intended audience may be interested in learning about Mexico.
Through Patti, we get to enhance our knowledge of Mexico. We learn more about some of the things young kids in Mexico might be doing. This includes things like the food they eat, their language, and what their school day is like. Patti also acts as a way for the reader to question Izzy’s life. Patti notices that the Bennett family must be wealthy to sail for a year. Any kid reading would be questioning this lifestyle. For me, as a mom who hopes to one day take my own kids on an extended trip, I appreciate how this part of the story is explained.
The book also has additional resources to help kids learn more about Mexico. This includes a map with geography highlights, fast facts, information for travelers, a kid-friendly recipe, an Engish-Spanish dictionary and pronunciation guide of common words and phrases, and a small section to jot down notes for planning a trip to Mexico. Their website, Pack ‘n Go Girls, provides photos of Barra de Navidad and even more tools to learn about Mexico.
Ready to read it for yourself? You can purchase the book on Amazon here.