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Book Review

This mystery novel by Carolyn Keene is the first in the " Nancy Drew Diaries" series published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

Curse of the Arctic Star is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Nancy Drew gets a troubling message from her old friend Becca. As assistant cruise director on an Alaskan liner called the Arctic Star, Becca has been making preparations for the ship's maiden voyage. But someone has been sending Becca threatening emails. The mysterious bully also sent warnings to the celebrity Becca booked for the cruise, causing him to cancel at the last minute. Becca is convinced someone is trying to sabotage the trip. She asks Nancy and her girlfriends George and Bess to come on the cruise and find out who is to blame. Bess' new boyfriend, Alan, also comes along. Since the girls don't know him all that well, they keep their case a secret and tell Alan they won the cruise in a contest.

As the cruise begins, an alarmed passenger screams about a bloody body in the swimming pool. It turns out to be a mannequin and cherry-powdered drink mix, but someone is clearly trying to spook the passengers. Nancy and her friends remain on high alert as they get to know some of the other passengers. There's Wendy, the eclectic-dressing blogger; Fred, who always wears Hawaiian shirts and turns up in unexpected places; Max, the eager butler, who rushes in to help when Nancy's luggage goes missing; and Tobias, an angry 8-year-old who has sneaked his pet tarantula aboard. Nancy and friends also meet newlyweds Lacey and Vince, who are convinced the cruise is cursed, three elderly frequent cruisers they call the ABCs, the ship's oft-disappearing videographer named Baraz and a large family of redheads who are having a reunion.

Nancy gets a threatening note in her luggage. Tobias' tarantula shows up in the dining hall, and a moose antler from the mini-golf area falls and nearly crushes Nancy. She keeps most of the people she's met on her suspect list, also adding several crew members. Tatjana, the Russian girl working for Becca, is unfriendly. Hiro, the children's guide, is around when many of the strange incidents occur. And Nancy catches Scott, the activities director, paying someone a large sum of money just before she's pushed into icy waters in the port of Ketchikan.

Nancy finally realizes Vince and Lacey, posing as honeymooners, are actually working for a rival cruise line and are trying to discredit Becca's company. The pair confesses to some of the strange happenings and is taken into custody. But there are still a number of loose ends that leave Nancy convinced someone else aboard is bent on making trouble. (In this way, the ending hints at a continuation in book two.)

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Lacey says the body in the pool is a bad sign. She later tells Nancy she continues to have bad feelings about the cruise, and she's beginning to think the voyage is cursed. Nancy asks her friends if the strange things happening aboard could just be ordinary bad luck.

Authority Roles

None. Nancy, her friends George and Bess, and Bess' college-age boyfriend, Alan, are unsupervised. They make no mention of their parents or guardians at home.


The words gosh, drat and heck each appear once.


The book mentions that Nancy, George, Bess and Alan are all staying in a big suite, and they each have their own bedroom within that suite.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • Why do Nancy, George and Bess lie to Alan and others?
  • Is it OK for them to lie? Explain.
  • How does the Bible encourage honesty?

  • What skills make Nancy a good sleuth?

  • Which of these skills do you have?
  • How might some of them be useful to you in your everyday life?

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: The girls lie, even to Bess' boyfriend, about their purpose on the cruise. Since they don't want anyone to know they're trying to catch bad guys, they say they won the cruise in a contest.

Gambling: Nancy suspects Scott, the activities director, and follows him around a port town. She sees him giving money to another man. When Scott spots Nancy, he says he is paying off gambling debts. He asks her not to tell so he won't get fired. She's not sure if she believes his story.

This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12




Carolyn Keene






Record Label



Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division


On Video

Year Published




We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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