In this second installment in the Mystery at Sea series, Phillpa and Phillip are friends who share a common bond in that both of their parents are part of the ship’s crew. Phillip’s father is the ship’s captain, and Phillipa’s parents are entertainers and instructors on the ship. As the story begins, the friends are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the ship’s new assistant cruise director, Herby Twining. Herby turns out to be a real jokester who loves tricking people. Phillip is captivated by him and begins spending time with him. Phillipa is leery of the new arrival, which creates tension between the friends. However, when Phillip’s rare pet parrot suddenly disappears, Herby doesn’t seem nearly as funny to him as he becomes Phillip’s prime suspect in the crime.
While older readers might not find this mystery particularly intriguing, this is a fun mystery that is perfect for a reader who is ready for more of a challenge than the Magic Tree House books offer. The characters appealing as well as the setting, and there are enough twists to the story to keep it interesting for the reader. Caldecott winner Mordicai Gerstein’s illustrations throughout the book help add to the story as well. Ages 7-9
Reviewed by Angela Cooke Sides, Librarian, Texas, USA