Teachers | In The Classroom

Classroom visits are nothing short of magical. As a good friend, and teacher, in Maine told me, “the kids won’t believe me, they won’t believe their parents, but they’ll believe you!

Alfred M. Struthers, In the classroom. . .

The statement above inspired me to start regular classroom visits, something I do at no charge.

What did I learn? Apparently artisans have a hidden super power. As a middle school teacher in Swanzey, NH, explained, “Kids very seldom get to meet someone working their craft.” Be it a painter, potter, sculptor, or writer, the overwhelming enthusiasm that kids have when they meet an artist is amazing.

I can recite the same writing lesson they heard that very morning, but coming from a published author, it has other-worldly impact. So, I use that excitement to flesh out the things that kids stumble on in writing. I simply ask them, “For you, what’s the hardest part of writing?” And then we tackle those issues one by one. One of the greatest testimonials I’ve gotten about my middle-grade classroom visits came from a fifth grader in Brookline, NH, who said, “Thank you for teaching us the stuff no one else will teach us.” Another wrote, “You make me want to be a better writer.”

When I hear those comments, my heart skips a beat.

Working together, we can create classroom Magic.

Great Book for Middle School Readers

“When author Alfred M. Struthers sent me a copy of his book to review, I decided that I would read this book as a read aloud to my 5th grade class. The students were really into the mystery aspect of the book and loved the adventure that was entwined within the story. Many of them felt that they could relate to the characters Nathan and Gina.

The author’s style of writing was to include the thoughts of most of the characters in the form of italics throughout the book. I will admit, it was hard to read at first because it was something I’d never quite seen before, but as I continued reading, I realized that the style of writing leant itself to some deep discussions and many wonderful teaching moments.

So, during our read aloud, we used the book as a teaching tool which became most helpful when discussing point of view. Knowing so many of the characters thoughts, also gave us insight about the characters themselves and we were able to make some inferences about them as we read.

This book was also a great tool to use when teaching fluency. We used a short passage to practice fluency and the expression, volume, and phrasing needed to make the thoughts of the characters more meaningful.

As one student said, “It’s almost like I’m talking to myself.” Which is exactly how it should be read too. 🙂

I don’t feel as though this is quite a lower level reader book as other reviewers have suggested however, only because of the writing style and vocabulary. I can see it frustrating struggling readers a bit, but being intriguing to higher level readers who are constantly thinking and questioning as they read. I definitely feel that this book would be great for middle school readers, and while it is an enticing book for boys, most of my girls really enjoyed it just as much.”   D. Boyer, Salina, KS

What Adults and Parents are saying. . . 

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“I really loved this book and I’m excited about the next one “The Phantom Vale”. I didn’t know what to expect as I know youth really enjoy this reading and I’m 50 years old and I couldn’t stop reading it. It kind of reminded me of The Goonies with a Harry Potter twist! I absolutely loved the writing as I couldn’t stop reading, there was never any boring moment, just a nonstop mystery adventure with a fun refreshing plot that makes me excited to dive into the next one . I bought the whole series.”

C. Williams, NH

“This author has created a captivating mystery for ALL Ages. It immediately brought me back to my childhood, riding bikes, best friends and a adventurous mystery. We absolutely can not wait to read the next book!”

K.M., Winchester, NH

“A great read for those who love young adult fiction.”

D. Scott, Editor, All Classic Books, Los Gatos, CA

“A fantastic book and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.”

C. Hunt, Hertfordshire, UK

“A great book for middle grade readers — especially boys–with nonstop action and a cool mystery tinged with Gothic elements…”

M. Lusted, Writer/Assoc. Editor, Cobblestone Publishing, Peterborough, NH

“Takes the reader on a journey of suspense and mystery coupled with devotion and loyalty you can only find in a best friend. The progression of the details keeps the reader interested until the last page. It leaves you feeling good and sets up the series for many more titles to come. Very enjoyable.”

N. Stone – Former Teaching Assistant
Gorham, ME

“As a parent, I loved this book because it was just as entertaining for me as it was for my daughter.”

T. Forstrom, Swanzey, NH

“It’s a well-researched book that’s fun to read for ‘history detectives’ young and old.”

T. Messer, NH State Coordinator Assoc. of Personal Historians

A Must Read!

“My son read this with his 5th grade class a few years ago, and fell in love with the story and its characters. In his words: Has a good mystery; a lot of great details and descriptions and really gets you into the story, and that’s why I think it’s so good.”

V. Lenahan, NH

“Fast-paced adventure, with a female side-kick, will appeal to kids looking for a quick read with a tinge of fantasy. Lots of architectural details add enrichment to the fun.”

Sue, Wilton, NH

“I’d definitely recommend [The Case of Secrets] for kids from 3rd through 8th grade who enjoy mysteries.”

R.C, Keene, NH

What Kids Are Saying About The Third Floor Mystery Books

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“The Case of Secrets is one of my new favorite books. It has so many interesting mysteries that keep you waiting for that next chapter. The story will twist you into a whole new book. With each change, it’s like reading an entirely new plot. The story and scares
kept me on edge in anticipation, waiting for the next surprise or mystery. This book for me was a 10/10.”

Shane Walker (age 11)
Nashua, NH

“Simply stunning, a new mystery at the turn of the page. A great ending. I really hope you write another book. Sometimes I don’t like mysteries books but this one, I cannot stop reading. Is a combination of spooky and mystery. I am in the middle school I hope they bring it to the school library very soon.”

A. A. (age 9)
Antrim, NH

“The book The Case Of Secrets was AMAZING. I have never liked reading ever in my life till I read this book.”

Riley, Grade 6
Brattleboro, VT

“I would like start by saying that this book will never keep you bored, there was never a dull moment. It’s very engaging. I don’t usually read mystery books but this book didn’t disappoint me.”

A.K., student
Ottawa, ON, Canada

“I love how every chapter ended with a mystery. Normally I don’t like to read but this book was so good that when I had only had the book for 2 days I was on page 60 because I liked it so much.”

Haidyn, Grade 6
Brattleboro, VT

“I think it was one of the coolest books ever and I have read a LOT of books”

Annabelle, Grade 6
Brattleboro, VT

“Books don’t usually get me excited. I have to know the story and get impressed but this book blew me away.”

Emma, Grade 6
Brattleboro, VT

“I loved reading [The Case of Secrets]. The story is so interesting and I can’t wait to read the other books in the series.”
Sara, Grade 6
Keene, NH

“I can’t wait to read more of the adventures of Nathan and Gina.”

Adia, Grade 5
Marlow, NH

“[The Case of Secrets] kept me on the edge of my seat when my teacher left us on cliff hangers and very suspenseful chapter endings.”

R.N., Grade 5
Salinas, KS

“[The Case of Secrets] made me feel like I was a detective like Sherlock Holmes.”

J.E., Grade 5
Salinas, KS

“Please write more books.”

B.P., Grade 5
Salinas, KS

“[The Case of Secrets] always kept me wanting to read more and more.”

M.M., Grade 5
Salinas, KS

“[The Case of Secrets] always kept me wondering what will happen next.”

A.S., Grade 5
Salinas, KS

“I think your books teach kids to always try your best.”

L.K., Grade 5
Brookline, NH

“Your creative titles and cool plots inspired me to be more open to books.”

C.S., Grade 5
Brookline, NH

“I really {enjoy] how much you described scenes and I could really see the scenes and characters in my mind.”

E.S., Grade 5
Brookline, NH

“Your books have inspired me to make my own mystery story.”

Thomas, Grade 5
Brookline, NH

Testimonials from Educators & Librarians

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“When I began reading The Case of Secrets I had high expectations for the book. But once I got into the book, I couldn’t put it down! My expectation was blown out of the water!! I found myself staying up far too late to “read just one more page”, which turned into “one more chapter”. With each chapter ending on a cliffhanger it felt almost impossible to stop reading. The main character Nathan, is so well portrayed and especially for young readers is so relatable. A kid who isn’t the biggest fan of school, or even reading makes an amazing discovery and then sticks with it. Going the extra mile when everyone doubted him. I couldn’t get enough of this book and never wanted it to end! Alfred did an amazing job hooking the reader with the mystery that was unfolding on each page.”

S.D., 6th Grade Teaching Assistant
Milford Central School,  Milford, NY

The Case of Secrets drew me, and my entire 5th grade class, into the mystery of Nathan’s dusty old family bookcase. This mystery was fast paced, starting with an old book falling onto the floor and the pages wildly turning by themselves to give the protagonist clues about its importance. Nathan and his friend Gina go on a wild adventure around town and end up discovering something that will give you chills. The characters are well developed. Nathan and Gina will both banter and work together, making you chuckle. The plot will keep you on the edge of your seat, so that you won’t want to put the book down. Even at the end, you won’t want to have the next book in the series too far away!

M. Leafe, Brookline, NH

“It is so well-written and held my interest to the point I couldn’t put it down.”

D. Charna, Columbus School for Girls, Columbus, OH

“A fast and exciting read…it lead my imagination into the “Raiders of the lost Ark” mode.”

Diane Goodman, Teacher, Marlborough School, Marlborough, NH

“I loved the book. I can’t wait until the next one. I couldn’t put it down.”

M. Walker – Teen/Reference/Local History Librarian, Amesbury Public Library, Amesbury, MA

“The story blends itself nicely into history, art, and language arts. The perfect mentor text to model various literary reading strategies in the classroom.”

C. Lang, Instructional Coach, LearnZillion
Washington, DC

Terrific Mix of Mystery and Suspense for the Middle School Reader

“Mr. Struthers does a wonderful job stirring curious histories and cryptic architecture into a suspenseful and fast-paced cauldron of mystery. As the main character wakes to a newly discovered love of literature, so does the reader to a completely original and well-written tale. I’ll be testing this book with my students during the next quarter and look forward to watching them live through every twist and turn.”

C. Smith, Principal, St. Joseph’s School Keene, NH

“I got hooked on the book. It’s nice sometimes to read a middle school level book and thoroughly enjoy it. Definitely get your kids to read this one.”

N. Hamblet, Library Asst., Kurn Hattin Homes Westminster, VT

“I ended up reading it nearly straight through. It kept drawing me forth. I will definitely recommend this for my middle grade readers.”

K. Clark, 6th Grade Teacher , Coopersville, MI

“I really enjoyed the book!” Some parts made me think of memories from my own childhood.”

K. Lisai, Teacher, Westminster, VT

“The author did such a wonderful job I almost believed the story was true. The feeling I felt while reading this book took me back to my years in elementary and middle school where you could always find me in the mystery section of the library.”

S. Stiles, 6th Grade LA, Sarasota, FL

I read this book to my 5th/6th grade class as a read aloud. They loved it! Every time I stopped reading at the end of a chapter, they would beg me to read just a few pages more. My students enjoyed the “Goosebumps” style mystery aspect of it along with the two main characters of Nathan and Gina. In addition, the author, Alfred Struthers, was kind enough to come visit our classroom! Watching the kids ask specific questions about the book and watching Mr. Struthers tell why he chose certain aspects was a delight to see. I will definitely be buying The Phantom Vale and all the other Third Floor Mystery books that come out!

B. Hoglund, Marlow, NH