I had not been aware The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder was the first in a Young Adult Canadian history series until I read the book.
On author Roderick Benns website, http://www.roderickbenns.com/, the series is described:
“The ‘Leaders & Legacies’ series is truly a first in Canadian publishing. This historical fiction series for ages 11 and up stars none other than our own Prime Ministers as mystery-solving, adventurous youth.”
It is a great concept for a series. The collective knowledge of our country’s history by our young people is incredibly low. In a 2007 study, http://www.dominion.ca/YoungAdultHistory3.pdf, of 18 to 24 year old Canadians only 26% knew the date of Confederation, the year we became a country. (Margot Kinberg on her great blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, occasionally has quizzes about mysteries. This post is not intended to be a quiz but she has inspired me to ask readers if they know when Canada became a country? The answer is at the end of the post.) In the study young Canadians were given a basic history test. 82% failed the test. It was not a difficult test. The pass rate in Saskatchewan and Manitoba was 29%. While it is hard to be proud of a 29% pass rate was a 10% increase in test performance for the two provinces from 10 years earlier.
In The Mystery of the Moonlight Murder readers, in the context of a good mystery, learn about the settlement of Western Canada, how farming was conducted by pioneers, what was expected of kids living on farms at that time, the transition faced by Indian people from hunters to farmers and the grievances of Metis (part French and part Indian) that led to a rebellion.
The second in the series - The Legends of Lake on the Mountain: An Early Adventure of John A. Macdonald – has been published. It features an adventure involving our first Canadian Prime Minister.
Benns website includes suggestions for teachers on how to teach Canadian history.
It is a brave concept directly seeking to combine mysteries and history for young Canadians. I hope it can succeed. History has always been most interesting for me when I am reading about people within the events of history.
I will be looking for The Legends of the Lake on the Mountain.
The answer to my one question quiz: Canada became a country in 1867.