Book Review: The Strange Museum Quartet

The Strange Museum: Book set only

I picked up this quartet of “Hooked on Phonics” MasterReader books at a second-hand bookstore to use with some of my young, yet proficient ESL students. The story sounded interesting and engaging and who was I to argue with the “Hooked on Phonics” brand? It taught me to read and spell oh-so-many years ago.

I’ve since found out this set has a some curriculum materials that weren’t available at the bookstore. I am slightly disappointed, nevertheless, my students enjoyed the books as an independent series. One student in particular was incredibly disappointed to find out there were only four books in the series. She wanted more to read. In fact, I bet if I offered to write additional fan fiction stories based on these books, I bet she would read them.

The quartet is an excellent series, each book escalating in length and complexity, while still retaining the same essential plot. It is great for readers who like short books yet should be moving on to longer ones. Reviews on Amazon claim that students who don’t like reading “devoured” these. I agree, my students couldn’t put them down and were excited to see where the next book would take them.

The Strange Museum
The essential plot of the four books we discover in the first book. The two siblings, Jake and Mandy Strange, work and live at the Strange Museum. It’s a museum their parents own on the first two floors of an old, large house. The third floor is the Strange Family Home and the basement is the office and workshop. The museum is a strange one…they display historically relevant lost and found items. But one day, Jake and Mandy discover a museum secret…if you touch anything after five o’clock (when the museum closes)…you can be transported back in time!

The Midnight Ride (Book 1)
Jake and Mandy accidentally touch a piece of an old map and are transported back in time…to 1775! Now they must help Paul Revere with his midnight ride or risk not being able to get back home because they changed history!

Pirates Revenge (Book 2)
Jake and Mandy tried hard not to touch objects after 5pm, but an accident with a lantern while searching for a history book in their dad’s office transported them to a North Carolinian sandy beach in 1718. But, just when they were about to return the lap to its rightful owner, their ticket back to the present, the pirate Blackbeard shows up and complicates things.

Men in Green (Book 3)
Mandy has learned her lesson. Don’t touch things after 5pm…or else. So what else is a little brother to do? Threaten to touch things. Jake doesn’t plan on actually touching anything; he’s learned his lesson too. But what’s the harm in teasing his sister? Accidents happen. A lute falls. Jake and Mandy catch it, transporting them back over 800 years to Sherwood Forest. Does the lute belong to Robin Hood or someone else? Jake and Mandy better hurry and figure it out…before English history has a chance to change!

The Royal Switch (Book 4)
Mandy wanted a cat. Jake thought a cat in a museum was a bad idea. Mandy snuck a cat into the ancient Egyptian exhibit anyway. Who would have thought the cat would break a display case? And how did that necklace get on the cat? There is only one way to remove it…by touching it. Even stranger…who would have though Mandy and Cleopatra would be doppelgängers? Now Mandy has to go undercover as Cleopatra if she wants to get back to the present!


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