Ghosts? A mysterious plant? Something even more sinister? This spooky mystery (inspired by a real kid's idea) doubles as a creative writing guide for young writers! 


Eliza loves hunting ghosts — too bad she's spending the summer helping her scientist mother study weird plants instead.  But when a mysterious plant goes missing, things go from strange to downright spooky. Eliza is convinced something—or someone—is haunting the plant shop. Is she digging into dangerous ground? 

Like Stuck in the Stone Age, the first in the Story Pirates Present series, this spine-tingling mystery doubles as an introduction to the basics of creative writing. With the help of Story Pirate Captain Vincent Rolo and the Mystery Creation Zone, kids can use this kid-generated story as inspiration to create their OWN great mysteries!

“What a fantastically fun way to learn about writing a story!”  — Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times bestselling author
THE STORY PIRATES are a nationally respected media and education organization founded in 2004 to celebrate the words, ideas, and stories of young people. They've been featured on NBC Nightly News, TODAY, and Sesame Street, and are endorsed by Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien, John Oliver, and more. Visit storypirates.org for more.

JACQUELINE WEST
is an award-winning and bestselling writer for young readers. She lives in Red Wing, Minnesota. Visit jacquelinewest.com for more.

HATEM ALY
is an Egyptian-born illustrator whose work has been featured in publications around the word, including the Newbury Honor Book The Inquisitor’s Tale. Visit metahatem.com for more. View titles by Story Pirates
© Robert Meyer
A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry and author of the critically and kid-acclaimed Books of Elsewhere series, Jacqueline West lives amid the bluffs of Red Wing, Minnesota, with her husband and their dog, Brom Bones. View titles by Jacqueline West
Hatem Aly is an Egyptian-born illustrator whose work has been featured in multiple publications worldwide. He currently lives in beautiful New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife, son, and more pets than people. His illustrated work includes the Newbery Honor winner The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, The Unicorn Rescue Society series also by Adam Gidwitz with several amazing contributing authors, The Story Pirates book series with Geoff Rodkey and Jacqueline West, early readers series Meet Yasmin with Saadia Faruqi, How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller, and The Book That Almost Rhymed by Omar Abed. Hatem has more upcoming books and projects in the works. You can find him online @metahatem. View titles by Hatem Aly
SECRETS LOVE THREE THINGS: darkness, solitude, and quiet.
The docks had all three.
Almost no one used these particular docks anymore. Their lamps were burned out, their boards beginning to rot. The surrounding water was sludgy and black. Pleasure boats had migrated to nicer boatyards years ago. Fishing boats had all but disappeared.
The docks were left alone with their quiet, muddy darkness. And their secrets.
It was well past midnight on one summer night when an old gray boat scraped up against the pilings. Despite the darkness, the boat didn’t turn on its lights. The city, twinkling across the bay like a pile of fallen stars, provided the only glow.
The boat was an old fishing craft, just large enough for the small crew that slunk up from belowdecks. Two men settled a plank between the boat and the dock. One of them—a man in a battered sweater, with grizzled hair tucked under a knit cap—carried crates and boxes down the plank and placed them in a waiting pickup truck. When everything was loaded, the man in the battered sweater climbed into the truck’s cab and rattled away into the darkness. The rest of the crew slipped back out of sight.
For a moment, everything was still. Black waves knocked softly at the boat’s hull.
And then, on the deck, a shadow split from the surrounding darkness. The shadow was hunched and long-limbed, and as it moved, a pool of other shadows moved with it, rippling like a cloak around its body. It slid out from behind a heap of cargo, glided across the deck, and leaped over the boat’s side. Its feet against the dock were nearly soundless.
No one heard those feet anyway. No one saw that shadow watching the truck dwindle away, its head cocked as though sensing something in the air. No one saw that shadow bend, its shape changing, growing lower, longer, faster, until on four silent feet it raced down the dock and along the streets, where it, too, melted into the darkness, one secret following another.
  • NOMINEE | 2020
    New York State Charlotte Award
“What a fantastically fun way to learn about writing a story!”  — Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“[A] fantastic, step-by-step guide with prompts, ideas, definitions, and forms for aspiring Edgar winners. West's tale, decorated with Aly's eerie, cartoon art, is well worth reading on its own—the writing manual takes it to a whole other level."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Praise for Stuck in the Stone Age:


STARRED REVIEW "Sarcastic, funny, and entertaining...short (and also funny) instructional lessons on character creation, story setting, plot twists, climax building, and story endings are pitched to pique interest and get the creative juices flowing. Aly's cartoon illustrations will add a giggle or two or three. A must for young writers (even those not interested in sci-fi) and a fab, fun writing manual for writing teachers everywhere."
Kirkus Reviews

STARRED REVIEW "This two-for-one tale is as smart as it is entertaining."
Publishers Weekly

About

Ghosts? A mysterious plant? Something even more sinister? This spooky mystery (inspired by a real kid's idea) doubles as a creative writing guide for young writers! 


Eliza loves hunting ghosts — too bad she's spending the summer helping her scientist mother study weird plants instead.  But when a mysterious plant goes missing, things go from strange to downright spooky. Eliza is convinced something—or someone—is haunting the plant shop. Is she digging into dangerous ground? 

Like Stuck in the Stone Age, the first in the Story Pirates Present series, this spine-tingling mystery doubles as an introduction to the basics of creative writing. With the help of Story Pirate Captain Vincent Rolo and the Mystery Creation Zone, kids can use this kid-generated story as inspiration to create their OWN great mysteries!

“What a fantastically fun way to learn about writing a story!”  — Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Author

THE STORY PIRATES are a nationally respected media and education organization founded in 2004 to celebrate the words, ideas, and stories of young people. They've been featured on NBC Nightly News, TODAY, and Sesame Street, and are endorsed by Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien, John Oliver, and more. Visit storypirates.org for more.

JACQUELINE WEST
is an award-winning and bestselling writer for young readers. She lives in Red Wing, Minnesota. Visit jacquelinewest.com for more.

HATEM ALY
is an Egyptian-born illustrator whose work has been featured in publications around the word, including the Newbury Honor Book The Inquisitor’s Tale. Visit metahatem.com for more. View titles by Story Pirates
© Robert Meyer
A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry and author of the critically and kid-acclaimed Books of Elsewhere series, Jacqueline West lives amid the bluffs of Red Wing, Minnesota, with her husband and their dog, Brom Bones. View titles by Jacqueline West
Hatem Aly is an Egyptian-born illustrator whose work has been featured in multiple publications worldwide. He currently lives in beautiful New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife, son, and more pets than people. His illustrated work includes the Newbery Honor winner The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, The Unicorn Rescue Society series also by Adam Gidwitz with several amazing contributing authors, The Story Pirates book series with Geoff Rodkey and Jacqueline West, early readers series Meet Yasmin with Saadia Faruqi, How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller, and The Book That Almost Rhymed by Omar Abed. Hatem has more upcoming books and projects in the works. You can find him online @metahatem. View titles by Hatem Aly

Excerpt

SECRETS LOVE THREE THINGS: darkness, solitude, and quiet.
The docks had all three.
Almost no one used these particular docks anymore. Their lamps were burned out, their boards beginning to rot. The surrounding water was sludgy and black. Pleasure boats had migrated to nicer boatyards years ago. Fishing boats had all but disappeared.
The docks were left alone with their quiet, muddy darkness. And their secrets.
It was well past midnight on one summer night when an old gray boat scraped up against the pilings. Despite the darkness, the boat didn’t turn on its lights. The city, twinkling across the bay like a pile of fallen stars, provided the only glow.
The boat was an old fishing craft, just large enough for the small crew that slunk up from belowdecks. Two men settled a plank between the boat and the dock. One of them—a man in a battered sweater, with grizzled hair tucked under a knit cap—carried crates and boxes down the plank and placed them in a waiting pickup truck. When everything was loaded, the man in the battered sweater climbed into the truck’s cab and rattled away into the darkness. The rest of the crew slipped back out of sight.
For a moment, everything was still. Black waves knocked softly at the boat’s hull.
And then, on the deck, a shadow split from the surrounding darkness. The shadow was hunched and long-limbed, and as it moved, a pool of other shadows moved with it, rippling like a cloak around its body. It slid out from behind a heap of cargo, glided across the deck, and leaped over the boat’s side. Its feet against the dock were nearly soundless.
No one heard those feet anyway. No one saw that shadow watching the truck dwindle away, its head cocked as though sensing something in the air. No one saw that shadow bend, its shape changing, growing lower, longer, faster, until on four silent feet it raced down the dock and along the streets, where it, too, melted into the darkness, one secret following another.

Awards

  • NOMINEE | 2020
    New York State Charlotte Award

Praise

“What a fantastically fun way to learn about writing a story!”  — Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“[A] fantastic, step-by-step guide with prompts, ideas, definitions, and forms for aspiring Edgar winners. West's tale, decorated with Aly's eerie, cartoon art, is well worth reading on its own—the writing manual takes it to a whole other level."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Praise for Stuck in the Stone Age:


STARRED REVIEW "Sarcastic, funny, and entertaining...short (and also funny) instructional lessons on character creation, story setting, plot twists, climax building, and story endings are pitched to pique interest and get the creative juices flowing. Aly's cartoon illustrations will add a giggle or two or three. A must for young writers (even those not interested in sci-fi) and a fab, fun writing manual for writing teachers everywhere."
Kirkus Reviews

STARRED REVIEW "This two-for-one tale is as smart as it is entertaining."
Publishers Weekly

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