A Fishy Mystery

by Kathryn on April 13, 2013

The Rat Pack Researchers are my favorite invention for Odyssey magazine. Almost two years ago, Odyssey did an issue on drugs and narcotics. The editor gave me the challenge of coming up with an entertaining way to teach kids about different types of illegal drugs and the effects they have. On a morning jog, I came up with the idea of a group of lab rats, some spilled vials from lab tests, and a cat that was acting strange (he got into catnip, of course). The idea was a little on the far side for a kids’ magazine – did the cat get into illegal drugs? Did the rats? Does writing about lab rats incite animal activists? I managed to keep the tone light and hopefully non-offensive.

Since that first story, the RPRs have appeared two more times. They held an annoy-a-thon in January 2012 to see which rat could make the most annoying sound (cat claws on the lab chalkboard won). And this month, they went on a quest to piece together a torn-up sushi menu — all the while learning about the taxonomy of different sea animal species. (Did you know that sea urchins are echinoderms?)

For this article, I actually drew the torn up sushi menu to make sure all the pieces they were finding would fit together and make sense. The name of the restaurant became the final “mystery fish” that kids have to figure out. Spoiler alert: Pete, the young rat hero, ends up saving their nemesis Zippy the cat from certain death by fugu poisoning…

I actually laughed out loud while writing this story, and I hope that the kids who read it laugh, too!

PS. Matt Mignanelli illustrated the story — I love his interpretation of the rats.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marie April 22, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Kathryn, this is fantastic! I love your concept and the articles! Very creative and clever and good word play. Kids love delving into science which lends itself to investigations and has a lot of mystery for sure– and detectives have their own hypotheses. 🙂 Looking forward to more.


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