FISHLAND: Fishland-that's the new nickname of the offices of children's book publisher Gallopade International in Peachtree City, Georgia. Why? Because there's something very fishy going on there publication of THE AWESOME AQUARIUM MYSTERY-set at the New Georgia Aquarium, by Carole Marsh. "We've been all wet since Carole visited the Georgia Aquarium on opening day!" says publisher Michele Yother. "It's been All Aquarium All the Time as soon as Carole (our Founder and CEO) started writing a mystery set at the Georgia Aquarium. She even created a Book Club event for libraries and classrooms, and Jello/Gummi Fish aquarium kits. Her excitement over the new Georgia Aquarium is so infectious that we deep-sixed other projects to get her book to press so kids and teachers could read it before their visit to the aquarium." Author Carole Marsh is well-known in the Atlanta area. A graduate of Henry Grady High School, she is always proud to brag that she was "educated in the Fulton County Public School System." A popular writer of "real place" mystery books for boys and girls 7-14, her titles are some of the hottest in local school and public libraries. "They're our best-selling children's book series," says Karen Duncan, owner, Omega Books in Peachtree City, especially since they are on the popular Accelerated Reader program." The Awesome Aquarium Mystery is a fast-paced read of a family's visit to the Georgia Aquarium where they meet (and thank!) Bernie Marcus, the aquarium's founder, and run into a mysterious "situation" that confounds aquarium staffers and threatens opening day success. Using her ongoing real-life grandchildren characters, Christina Yother, age 10, and Grant Yother, age 7(students at Braelinn Elementary School in Peachtree City), the author combines clues, humor and fish facts into a wild, crazy, educational Meet Ralph and Norton/fall in the Big Tank/Save the Beluga Whales mystery that makes a great family or class read-aloud pre- or post-Georgia Aquarium visit. "That's always my plan," admits the author, dressed this day in a Georgia Aquarium tee shirt and peering through her big blue 3-D Deepo movie glasses. "For kids who get to visit the wonderful new Georgia Aquarium, I want them to read my book, get excited to see all the galleries and fish featured in the story, and mentally follow Christina and Grant around as they learn about an aquarium, its educational and preservation missions, and really buy into a once-in-a-lifetime experience they'll hopefully never forget!" Marsh's book-writing formula apparently has great educational impact. One of her first "Real Kids/Real Places" titles-The Mystery at the Biltmore House-is celebrating its 20th anniversary as the hot seller at a tourist site generally appealing more to adults than children. It is widely-accepted in many schools that the best field trip of the year involves reading the book then visiting the 250-room mansion with Scavenger Hunt list in hand to find items the author has chosen to engage students in what becomes a milestone educational experience. The author hopes the same for her new book. "I don't want kids just to visit the Georgia Aquarium, I want them to think about what they see-not only the drama of the big fish and the amazing 3D movie but also appreciate the science, business, and industry that went into creating such a building and environment. To learn that people can make BIGthings happen. To understand the admirable motives and missions behind such places. I want them to think, 'I could do that! I could be an aquarist! I could be a marine biologist! I could build big, cool buildings!' I want them to experience not just an aquarium, but learn a lesson in entrepreneurship and civic enterprise." To see how the author (pretty amazing herself since her 1979 kitchen table start-up is now a multi-million dollar global enterprise) pulls off this personal challenge, you have to read the mystery and follow Mimi, Papa, Grant, and Christina on their adventures, eavesdropping all the way on their meeting with Mr. Marcus, pursuit of a misguided young man out to protest "fish in prison," the breath-taking moment when Grant has a close-encounter of the wet kind with Big Fish duo Ralph and Norton, and Christina's dogged determination to save the day and the aquarium. "I couldn't put it down!" said advance-galley proofreader Jasmine Pruett, age 12. "Ms. Marsh always makes everything seem so real. The aquarium was so cool and I learned a lot. Christina is always so smart and Grant so silly. He makes me laugh out loud! And I want to see that 3D movie in the 4D theater." The author laughs herself. "I have so much faith in young readers. They appreciate a good read as much as adults. They really do want to learn the meaning behind things. They love a good laugh. And don't we all love mysteries? I admit that I often put some things in my books that actually happen during my research visits." Indeed, some Georgia Aquarium staffers may recall seeing a man in high-style cowboy gear visiting the aquarium accompanied by his short, blond, bubbly writer wife. "She asks questions thatmake people very nervous," says Bob Longmeyer, the author's husband and self-proclaimed Trail Boss. "Like, 'What would happen if the fish food got poisoned?' or 'If I accidentally fell in the big tank would the sharks eat me?' I'm just there to carry the notebooks, cameras, and explain to security that she's just a harmless kid's book writer!" As book character Grant might say, "Fish poop!" Carole Marsh's madness seems to be a method of getting kids really, really, REALLY excited about something like an aquarium, whether they are going, have been, or only ever get an armchair read visit. The Awesome Aquarium Mystery's "Built-in Book Club" extends the reading experience via interesting questions for discussion and an activity that involves making a blue Jell-o aquarium stuffed with gummy-fish, marshmallow coral, raisin rocks, and dill and rosemary "seaweed." And so, is the author off on other mystery-writing adventures? "I get so excited writing about most places, like the Georgia Aquarium, that I usually just want to do an immediate sequel," the author claims. "I just adopt the place for life and hope kids will too!" Carole Marsh is the author of 16 Carole Marsh Mysteries sold in Barnes and Noble, Schoolbox, Chapter 11, and other retail outlets in Georgia. She is currently working on a new Around the World in 80 Mysteries series, with The Mystery at Big Ben and The Mystery at the Ancient Pyramid as inaugural titles. She was the 2004 recipient of the Education in Excellence Award. For catalogs or autographed copies call Gallopade International, 770-631-4222 or go to www.gallopade.com. ----
Number of Pages: 104
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Sub-Genre: Mysteries & Detective Stories
Series Title: Awesome Mysteries (Paperback)
Publisher: Gallopade International
Age Range: 9-12 years
Author: Carole Marsh
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