Thursday, August 23, 2012

State of Successes by Elysabeth Eldering

State of Successes

By Elysabeth Eldering

Illustrated by H.C. Paye

Published: September 2010


ISBN-10: 1453621628
ISBN-13: 978-1453621622

Book 4 of the 50 State Mystery Trivia Series

Paperback, 100 pgs.

Reading level: ages 9-12

Matt Patterson, almost thirteen, likes to hang around with his friends, especially Guy Lombard.  Not only does he like skateboarding and playing video games, but he also likes geography.

Mary Beth, Matt's eleven year old sister, joins her older brother and his friends whether they want her to or not.

Jolene Ariette's name cropped up in the first book of the series since both Matt and Guy like her, but she keeps them both as friends only.

As the "Geography Detective Squad" work their way through the different fifty states of the series, they accumulate "bonus" clues that will reveal five territories joined or part of the United States.

Readers should be aware of the bonus clues so that each reader can "guess" the identities of the territories: Washington DC, the Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the Samoan Islands.

Matt Patterson, Guy Lombard, Mary Beth Patterson and Jolene Ariette take on the newest handheld game to help them in their study of social studies course of US History (geography and trivia information about each state). Each book in the series will be presented as the game giving them "clues" which are basically facts and trivia information that can be found most any place about the states. The kids have to guess the state by the end of the book. Readers are encouraged to participate in guessing as well. Guesses may be changed during the story as no one is expected to get the state immediately. Some clues are more helpful than others and some are just downright fun. This is a fun way of learning something you never knew about state history and geography.

There are bonus clues to five territories throughout the series, one per book with a total of ten per each of the territory (Guam, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, US Samoan Islands). The ten clues will not come consecutively; the five territories will be one clue every sixth book for each of the territories. There will be a bonus clue section at the end of the series, recapping the clues, which book they appeared in and what the territory is in that book.

Study guides are available as a PDF download on the website and are password protected; for access, please email Elysabeth at with subject "study guide password". The study guides will contain five or six research projects/discussion questions, a science experiment/map-math activity-craft-social studies activity -or any combination of those, a secret message puzzle (cryptogram, word search, scramble or other such puzzles alternating per state), and an end of book game (about fourteen to twenty questions in a trivia type fashion per).

I found State of Successes, book 4 of the 50 State Mystery Trivia Series, to be an easy book to read.  I was able to read it in one sitting.  I found the main characters using a hand held game to try and figure out what state they were working on to be an interesting idea.  Hand held games are something most kids, in this day and age, can relate to so I think it helps with the book's appeal.  The reader becomes a participant of the book, as they also get to try and guess the state from the provided clues and illustrations.

There are black and white illustrations, throughout the book, which add to the visual appeal of using a hand held game to guess the state from the clues.  Most of the illustrations were quite nice, but I felt a few of them needed more work.  I kept looking at them wondering if two different people had worked on the illustrations for State of Successes.

In the back of the book, you will find a bibliography section.  It gives links where you can find more information on the state.  There is also a section of discussion questions.  I'd like to mention that there is also a seperate study guide that goes with the book.  A few of the things you will find in the study guide are discussion questions, a craft project and a couple of games.
I feel that this type of book would work well in classrooms, as the book could be read aloud, the clues could be discussed, or teams could be formed to play a trivia type gameI think this series of books can help make learning state history and geography fun.  These books would also be a fun addition to school libraries and homeschool libraries.

Ms. Eldering is the award winning author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series.  Her stories "Train of Clues", "The Proposal" (available as an ebook), "Tulip Kiss" (available as an ebook), and "Butterfly Halves", all placed first, second, or runner up in various contests to include two for Armchair Interviews and two for Echelon Press (Fast and ... themed type contests).  Her story "Bride-and-Seek" (available as an ebook) was selected for the South Carolina Writers' Workshop (SCWW) anthology, the Petigru Review.  Ms. Eldering makes her home in upper state South Carolina and loves to travel, read, cross stitch and crochet.  When she's not busy with teenaged children still at home, working her full-time job as a medical transcriptionist or participating in virtual classroom visits, she can be found at various homeschool or book events promoting her writing.  

For more information about the JGDS series, please visit the JGDS blog at or the JGDS website at
For more information about Elysabeth's other writings, please visit her general writing and family blog at or her website at


Misha Gericke said...

Sounds like a fun read, since I'm nuts about trivia. :-D

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Book sounds great, and I love the cover!

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Sounds like a fun read. Nice to have study guides to use with the book, too.

Sherry Ellis said...

Sounds like a good way to learn about the 50 states.

Karen Elizabeth Brown said...

It sounds like a good book.
Susanne, since you inspire me, I decided to tag you in a post today. Stop over when you have the time, and check it out.

elysabeth said...

Susanne,thanks for posting about State of Successes. I tried to come by yesterday and leave a comment but my internet kept flaking out so my comment got lost.

Thanks for stopping by everyone - the books are very cute and use facts that can be found everywhere but are not really in textbooks, so the kids are learning something new and not being beaten over the head with the facts and information about the states. I hope you all will pick up a copy of one of the completed states and enjoy a quick read.

See you all in the postings - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the JGDS, 50-state, mystery, trivia seriea
Where will the adventure take you next?

Charmaine Clancy said...

'Geography Detective Squad' - what a cute idea!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Sounds like an interesting read. :)

Arlee Bird said...

Strange book title. I was expecting something about business theory or self improvement.

Wrote By Rote

Talli Roland said...

Sounds like an interesting read - incorporating handheld technology is neat!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Teaches and entertains? Good combination.

Julie Musil said...

What a fun series! It sounds like it combines fun with learning, which is always a great combo.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I agree with Julie that this is a winning combination! Great cover too!

elysabeth said...

Talli, I wish I could say that has driven sales of any of the books in the series. Maybe one of these days I'll figure out how to make them interactive ebooks or actually develop the game that gives the clues - something.

Alex, Julie and Empty Nest - I thought it was a good combination - and I've had many comments at events about what a neat idea this is or that they wish someone had come up with the idea when they were in school but it hasn't helped sales. Hopefully this year by being involved in the School Librarian conferences and all that will boost sales but only time will tell -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting everyone - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the JGDS, 50-state, mystery, trivia series
Where will the adventure take you next?

Janet Johnson said...

What a neat idea for learning the states! Thanks for sharing and best of luck to Elysabeth. :)

LTM said...

Wow! What a really great idea for helping kids learn about the states! I bet teachers are loving this! I think I'll check one out for my own girls! Thanks, Suzanne! :o)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I agree that these books would make a great addition to classrooms. They look like more fun than ordinary texts, while teaching the students too.

Best of luck, Elysabeth.

Peggy Eddleman said...

What a fabulous idea for a book series!

Jennifer Shirk said...

My kiddo LOVES learning trivia about the States! I think she'd really like this book.

Susan Hornbach said...

Sounds like a great way for kids to learn. Wishing you great success Elysabeth. Thanks Susanne for a wonderful post.

elysabeth said...

LTM, I can keep hoping that teachers are loving it and hopefully soon the books will be in classrooms everywhere (fingers crossed and high hopes here).

Beverly, isn't that what we want to do - entertain and teach at the same time so the kids aren't bored and are learning? I would like to think that is what authors do - teach and entertain.

Jennifer, there are 6 states available so pick up a copy of each of them or email me and I'll do a special deal for all 6, and sign them to your kiddo. (you can drop me a line at if you are interested.

Thanks for the well wishes everyone. I had a big event scheduled for this weekend but didn't have the funds so now have to wait until October for my next big events, with the biggest one being the GACOMO (combined library/technology conference) and I hope that with all the exposure to school librarians and other media specialists around the southeast that I will see a big increase in everything so that I can get back to publishing more states. Wishing you all a wonderful, stress-free Labor Day weekend. See you all in the postings - E :)


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