First Edition ©2019 Carole Marsh/Gallopade International/Peachtree City, GA
Current Edition © January 2019
Ebook edition ©2019
All rights reserved.
Manufactured in Peachtree City, GA
Carole Marsh Mysteries and its skull colophon are the property of Carole Marsh and Gallopade
Published by Gallopade International/Carole Marsh Books. Printed in the United States of America.
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Assistant Editor: Susan Walworth
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Content Design: John Hanson
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Once upon a time ...
Hmm, kids keep
asking me to write
a mystery book.
What shall I do?
Papa said ...
Why don’t you set the stories
in real locations?
That’s a great idea!
And if I do that, I might
as well choose real kids as
characters in the stories!
But which kids would I pick?
You sure are characters,
that’s all I’ve got to say!
Yes, you are! And, of
course, I choose you! But
what should I write about?
We can go on the ong>Mysteryong> Girl airplane ...
I can put
a lot of
Or by surfboard,
legend, lore, and
the books! It will be educational and fun!
What else can
we do, Mimi?
Kids and teachers
can get cool
Can we have
a Fan Club
And can we
and trivia and
ong>Theong> ong>Mysteryong> Girl is all
revved up—let’s go!
You mean now?
nd so, join Mimi, Papa, Avery,
Ella, Evan, and Sadie aboard
the ong>Mysteryong> Girl—where the adventure is
real and so are the characters!
START YOUR ADVENTURE TODAY!
“It’s from Roseline!” Avery exclaimed. She
eagerly ripped open the purple envelope she’d
snatched from the mailbox before hopping in
Roseline had been Avery’s best pen pal
for several years. ong>Theong> two girls had met at
a summer camp. Each of Roseline’s letters
was filled with pictures and tales of her life
on the Louisiana bayou. It was very different
from Avery’s suburban life in Georgia with
her siblings, Ella, Evan, and Sadie.
When Mimi and Papa, Avery’s
grandparents, invited the grandkids to go on
a trip to southern Louisiana, she was ecstatic!
Mimi, a famous mystery writer, planned
to research a book idea there. Avery had
something else in mind. “I can visit Roseline!”
she had said. She had quickly dashed off a
letter informing Roseline of their visit. Now,
she couldn’t wait to read Roseline’s reply!
“Read the letter during our flight,” Mimi
suggested. “It’ll give you something fun
“You’re right,” Avery said, buckling her
seat belt. She pulled her long blond hair
into a ponytail. “Reading on a plane doesn’t
bother me, but reading in the car makes me
“Get me outta here!” Avery’s brother,
Evan, yelled, flailing his arms and legs. “I don’t
want to fly to Louisiana covered in vomit!”
“Don’t worry,” Avery said, stuffing the
letter in her pocket. “I’ll wait. It’s called
“You’re right! It will be a great vacation!”
“No, Sadie,” Ella said. “She didn’t say
great vacation, she said delayed gratification.
That means putting off something you want,
so you can enjoy it later.”
Sadie poked out her bottom lip. “But I
want a great vacation now! Not later!”
“It’s OK, baby girl,” Papa assured her in
his deep, booming voice as he pulled onto the
highway. “A quick drive to the airport and
then it’s ‘see ya soon, alligator’!”
“Papa! Don’t you mean ‘see ya later,
alligator’?” Evan asked.
“Nope,” Papa said. “We’re going to the
alligators, not leaving them.”
“Addigators scare me!” Sadie said, her
blue eyes wide with alarm.
Evan turned his arms into alligator jaws
and chomped at his little sister.
Sadie huffed. “Not funny!” she said.
Ella stealthily slid her arm over and
pinched Evan’s back. “Ouch!” he yelped.
“Even gators should be aware of what’s
behind them,” she said with a snicker.
Evan shot his sister a raspberry, spraying
everyone in the back seat.
“Evan!” Avery exclaimed. “I just can’t wait
to see Roseline. It’ll be so nice to have some
mature company for a change!”
Later, when the kids were occupied by inflight
movies, Avery pulled out the festive
envelope in her pocket and eagerly unfolded
the letter inside. But as soon as she read the
first words of Roseline’s letter, her mouth
dropped open. Her friend had simply written:
PLEASE DON’T COME!!
A Mysterious Lady
ong>Theong> flight was gut-wrenching for Avery.
What had she done to make Roseline not want
to see her? Was it something she’d said in one of
her letters? Should she tell Mimi and Papa and
run the risk of ruining their trip? One thing
was for sure: it was already ruined for her. As
the plane descended at New Orleans, Avery’s
anxiety was ascending.
She turned the colorful envelope over and
over in her hands. It was too late to honor
Roseline’s request, but should she still try
to contact her? “If New Orleans is known as
‘ong>Theong> Big Easy,’” she whispered, “why am I
ong>Theong> plane gently bumped the runway and
jostled Avery from her thoughts. She spotted
Evan’s blond head in the row of seats ahead
of her. He was peeking under the big black
cowboy hat that covered his grandfather’s
face and jiggled like a pot lid with every snore.
“Wake up, Papa!” he said.
Ella pressed her finger to her lips,
motioning her brother to be quiet. Gingerly,
she pulled the feather out of her grandfather’s
hat band and slid it toward his nose.
Evan watched with delight and clasped
his hand over his mouth to keep his giggles
At first, Papa swatted at imaginary flies.
ong>Theong>n, he mumbled and squirmed. Finally,
he let out an AAAAAAACHOOOOOOO!
that blew the hat off his face and startled
Papa rubbed his face with his ham-sized
hand, yawned, and slowly sat upright. As
he cleared his throat, he noticed the kids
watching him. “Hey kiddos,” he murmured,
“I’ve been checking the inside of my hat for
holes. I wouldn’t want to get caught in the
Louisiana rain with a hole in my hat!”
Evan set his giggles free. “Of course, that’s
what you were doing, Papa!” he exclaimed.
When the plane stopped at the gate, Mimi
and Sadie popped over the seat backs.
“I was checking the inside of my hat for
holes, too,” Mimi said, straightening her
favorite red cowboy hat over her blond curls.
She grinned. “Best nap I’ve ever had!”
Still holding the feather from Papa’s hat,
Ella asked, “Is Avery asleep, too? Maybe she
needs a tickly wakeup call!”
Ella flipped her long brown hair over her
shoulders and looked over at Avery. She had
a worried look on her face.
“You OK?” Ella asked.
“Sure,” Avery answered half-heartedly.
“Time to meet NOLA,” Evan said glumly
as Papa handed down their luggage from the
“What are you talking about?” Ella asked.
“You’ve all been saying we were going
to see NOLA,” Evan said. “Isn’t she some
chubby old aunt who will think I’m cute and
kiss me with her greasy lipstick and leave me
smelling like her stinky perfume?”
Mimi smiled. “NOLA is very old, and she’s
been through a lot,’ she said. “But you will
love her! She has so much interesting history
“Oh, so she’ll bore us with lots of history,
too,” Evan added.
Avery ruffled her brother’s hair with both
her hands and forced a smile. “You’re so
clueless that you’re cute!” she said.
“Clueless?!” Evan huffed. “You know I’m
great at clues! That’s what happens when
your grandmother is a mystery writer! Clues
are our business, right, Mimi?”
“Right!” Mimi agreed. “And NOLA is one
Avery also secretly hoped the “mysterious
lady” could offer some clues about her friend’s
Inside the Louis Armstrong New Orleans
International Airport, Evan forgot about
meeting NOLA long enough to ask a question.
“Who is Louis Armstrong?” he asked. “He
must be pretty important to have an airport
named after him!”
“Louis Armstrong was a famous jazz
musician from New Orleans,” Papa explained.
“His nickname was Satchmo and he played
the trumpet and sang. He even performed in
“He gave us so many great songs!” Mimi
agreed. “My favorites are “What a Wonderful
World” and “Jeepers Creepers.”
“Jeepers Creepers?” Evan said. “That’s a
great name for a song! Oh, Jeepers,” Evan
sang, “when I meet NOLA, she’ll give me
Avery and Ella rolled their eyes at their
brother’s antics. “Yeah!” Avery agreed. “On
that note, I’m stopping to tie my shoe!”
When the lace was securely knotted,
Avery rushed to catch up with her family in
the crowded airport. BAM! She collided with
a very big man going the opposite direction.
A leather satchel hanging off his shoulder
dumped its contents on the floor. Papers, rolls
of cloth, and electronic devices skated across
the floor and among the feet of passersby.
ong>Theong> man’s bushy beard trembled when he
barked in a raspy voice, “Why don’t you watch
where you’re going, kid!”
“I am sooo sorry,” a red-faced Avery
apologized. She reached to pick up the
bearded man’s bag, noticing that it had the
texture of alligator skin.
“I’ll get that, young lady!” said a neatly
dressed man wearing shiny purple shoes. He
seemed to appear out of nowhere. He rushed
to retrieve the bag at the same time as Avery.
CRACK! ong>Theong>ir heads smacked together,
and their arms tangled in a rope that cinched
the canvas bag Mr. Purple Shoes carried. ong>Theong>
lumpy canvas bag hit the floor with a soft thud.
It bounced slightly, and seemed to wiggle for
a second as though it were alive.
At the same time, a few things tumbled out
of Avery’s backpack.
“Clumsy kid!” Bushy Beard exclaimed, as
he and Purple Shoes scrambled to pick up the
items that had fallen out of the satchel.
“I…I’m so very sorry,” Avery stammered,
snatching her items and backing away.
Purple Shoes continued to gather his
things but looked up long enough to flash
Avery a toothy smile and say, “C’est la vie!”
Avery knew the phrase meant “that’s life,”
and she’d had enough. Hot tears stung her
eyes like angry bees. First, her friend didn’t
want her to come. And now, after only a
few minutes in New Orleans, she’d made a
complete fool of herself.
Across the terminal, Avery spotted a black
cowboy hat bobbing above the crowd. “Papa!”
she yelled, weaving carefully around people
to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing scene
she’d just left.
“Are you OK?” Mimi asked. “We thought
we’d lost you!” Avery had wiped the tears
from her eyes, but there was no hiding her
feelings from Mimi.
“I ran into someone,” Avery said.
“Was it NOLA?” Evan asked. “Where is
she? Might as well get it over with.” He closed
his eyes tight and puffed out his cheeks.
“What are you doing?” Ella asked. “You
look like a blowfish!”
“Bracing myself for all the hugs and
kisses!” he said. “Where is she?”
Papa made a sweeping motion with his
arm. “Thatta way!” he said. “She’s out there!”
“You mean she’s meeting us outside the
airport?” Evan asked.
“Stop it!” Avery yelled. “I can’t take
“Take what?” Evan asked, confused.
“NOLA isn’t a person, Evan!” Avery cried.
“It’s a place. It’s where we are! It’s one of the
nicknames for New Orleans. N for New, O for
Orleans and the abbreviation for Louisiana is
LA—NOLA! Understand now?!?”
“Oh,” Evan said, with the expression of a
fly that had just been swatted. “That’s a relief,
After Avery’s harsh words to her brother,
Mimi was even more concerned. “Let’s take
a break before we head to our hotel,” she
suggested. “Papa, you take the kids for a
snack, while Avery and I have a chat.” She put
her arm around Avery’s shoulder and steered
her toward a bench. “Now, tell me what’s
wrong. You’re not yourself.”
More tears slipped from her eyes, and
Avery spilled her guts to her grandmother.
“She doesn’t want to see me,” Avery cried.
“I thought we were great friends, and I came
all this way, and she doesn’t even want to
“Who?” Mimi asked.
“Roseline,” Avery replied. “ong>Theong> letter
I got right before we drove to the airport
said, ‘Don’t come!’ But it was too late to
“Oh, honey,” Mimi crooned. “It’s OK.
ong>Theong>re could be a lot of reasons why she wrote
that. Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe
she had built her life up so big she couldn’t
live up to it. She might not want you to see
that her life isn’t as great as she portrayed it
in her letters.”
“Well,” Avery said, “some of the things she
said about her home on the bayou were pretty
hard to believe. But I didn’t think she was the
kind of girl who would lie.”
“People are complicated creatures,” Mimi
observed as she gave Avery a consoling hug.
“I’m sure you’ll work things out with her.
Besides, there’s still a fascinating city out
there to explore! We’ll have a great time!”
Evan skittered across the terminal floor
like a squirrel crossing a highway. He balanced
a bag above his head as his blue eyes twinkled
with excitement. “I brought something to
make you feel better,” he said, handing the
bag to Avery. “ong>Theong>se things are great—like
little donut pillows. ong>Theong>y’re called bag nets,
or something like that.”
“Beignets,” Mimi corrected.
“Ben yays,” Evan repeated. “I didn’t know
what I’d ‘ben’ missing,” he said, “but they
make you say ‘YAY!’ when you taste them!”
Avery giggled at her little brother. She
opened the bag and took a bite of the warm
fried dough dusted with powdered sugar.
“Mmmm,” Avery hummed while licking
the powdered sugar off her lips. “Delicious!
I feel better already. Thanks, Evan. Sorry I
was such a mean grump earlier.”
“I forgive you,” Evan said. “Papa wanted
me to tell both of you that it’s time to
skedaddle. I can’t speak a lot of these New
Orleans words, but I can speak Papa. He’s
ready to GO!”
As they left the airport, Avery noticed a line
of people holding signs for taxi services and
tourist attractions. But one sign caught her
eye. It said, Bergeron Bayou Tours—Half Price.
Avery stopped so suddenly she caused a
pileup of her siblings behind her. Bergeron
was Roseline’s last name! And holding one
corner of the sign was Roseline!
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free activities to
go along with your
corrugated: shaped into a series of parallel
ridges and grooves in order to give added
rigidity and strength
gumbo: a stew or thick soup, usually made
with chicken or seafood, greens, and okra
jambalaya: a dish of Creole origin,
consisting of rice cooked with ham,
sausage, chicken or shellfish, herbs,
spices, and vegetables
raspy: hoarse or harsh-sounding
satchel: a bag carried on the shoulder by a
long strap and typically closed by a flap
stilts: long posts used to hold a building,
etc., above the ground or out of the water
vicinity: the area near or surrounding a
antics: funny, silly, or strange behavior
crustacean: an animal with a hard shell
and several pairs of legs, which usually
lives in water
festive: suitable for a feast or festival;
merry or joyous
nocturnal: being active or happening at
night rather than during the day
vegetation: plants in general or plants
that are found in a particular area