The Gumshoe Archives: Living Science Readers {Review and Giveaway!}

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Recently, I was contacted by Robert Jacob, the author of a new series of books, The Gumshoe Archives. I’m a sucker for books, and also a sucker for reviewing neat curriculum supplements I have never heard of before, so I jumped on the chance to get a closer look at his set of fourth grade science readers.

These books are something special because they fall into the “living books” category of curriculum supplements. This means that instead of using a dry textbook, your kiddo gets to absorb information through an engaging story.


In the fourth grade series, there are 5 books:

The Disappearing Lake (The Water Cycle)
The Stolen Panda (Understanding Weather)
The Vanishing Diamonds (Rock Properties and Soil Formation)
The Zombie of the Lake (Wetlands, Forests and Deserts)
The Rouge Dragon (Fossil Formation)

These books are mystery novels. Each one has some sort of puzzle the characters are trying to solve, and along the way, they learn all sorts of scientific principles. The vocabulary taught in the book is defined before the story begins, and then every time one of the words in mentioned, it is highlighted in the text. At the end of every chapter is a “Junior Detective Exam” with 5-6 questions for your child to answer to test their understanding. Answers to the questions are not included in the text, but are available in a separate answer key.

DSC_0467 Little Sister is always trying to steal his books…..

The reading level of these books feels appropriate for the 4th grade, perhaps slightly on the easier side. This means that Bug didn’t have to push himself with his reading skills to absorb the information easily- reading these books isn’t a chore, he came back to them willingly in the last month without complaint. He says they are “fun books, not school books!” which I really appreciate because I don’t want to have to push him to read! I love that he gets sucked right into the story, and is still picking up on solid scientific principles and vocabulary along the way.

Bug and I have really enjoyed this series, and I am excited to see what else the author comes up with in the coming years. Right now, the fourth and fifth grade series are the only ones completed, but hopefully there will be many more soon! These books have been a fantastic addition to our library, and in my opinion rank right up there with books like The Magic Treehouse series (only, with a much more developed vocabulary and story line!).  Basically, keep your eye out for these books, they’re going to be making waves as the word gets out about them!

Where to get them

Right now, these books are available as paperback and on kindle. If you are already a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read them for free (WHOOP WHOOP!) or they are available for a very reasonable price if you prefer to own them outright (you probably will!).

Enter to Win!

The author has very generously offered one set of readers, either the fourth or fifth grade books to one of my lucky readers. I hope you take a moment to check out his website, and enter using the Raffle Copter form below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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  1. We really enjoyed color mixing in milk in last year’s rainbow science. This year we’re learning about the body, and I think the most interesting thing we’ve covered so far would be the different shaped smell receptors.

  2. Thank you so much for posting on this product! I have read through the samples and I cannot wait to try these out! My daughter is a reader. It is how she learns. My son loves experiments and hands on activities. Right now, I have a curriculum that caters more towards my son. I am totally getting these books for my daughter! She read the sample pages too and got excited. I love product reviews!

  3. I don’t remember much about science growing up but now as a homeschooler, I am loving exploring the world around us thru my children’s eyes! We are set to learn about frog and butterfly life cycles and I don’t know who is more excited- me or them 🙂

  4. I wasn’t really fond of science growing up, and my littles are still preschool so we aren’t doing formal learning, but what I remember enjoying the most was genetics. I was fascinated by the process of new life forming.

  5. We are just starting science in our homeschool. The children didn’t have it yet in ps before I pulled them out. So far they have learned about hearing of different kinds of animals and how sound travels. They would both love these books!

  6. The coolest thing we learned in science this week was all about electrical circuits! We made so many with a kit we bought on clearance! It’s been so fun.

  7. I love the idea of these books! My daughter sees math in a whole new way thanks to Life of Fred, going in that direction with other subjects sounds like lots of fun I can’t wait to check these out.

  8. I like animal science the best, I think. I will go with something that we saw yesterday at the cultural arts festival and the audobon society booth: the hummingbird’s nest is TINY. I know those birds are little but I cannot fathom how they get inside that teeny-tiny nest. – Lori

  9. Honestly, the coolest thing I’ve learned is how fun nature study can be, because I was hugely intimidated by it in the beginning! We’ve recently been learning about pollination as we planted fruit trees.

  10. Coolest thing I’ve learned in science class? I’m going to go with the coolest one I’ve taught this week. 🙂 A giraffe has the same number of vertebrae in its neck that we do (7), but an owl has 14.

  11. Right now my daughters and I are learning about food science… What reacts to what and why. Very fun! We are gluten-free so it’s been fun experiments with ways we can mimic gluten

  12. when my son and I were doing Space using a Discovery Toys book it was neat that you could use a hard boiled egg to represent the earth and it’s layers…and it was yummy too 🙂

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