The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow

The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow

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Overview

Fans of classic detective stories, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and the Secret Series will devour this illustrated middle-grade adventure that follows three curious sleuths as they investigate a mysterious, old house with some hidden secrets.

Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom.
    As if leaving New York City and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad (DMS), weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past.
   Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a strange picture of a red-haired lady are the first in a series of clues that takes the members of the Detective Mystery Squad on an amazing adventure.

"The novel builds to an exciting climax that takes magic in stride and suggests that further mysteries await the DMS trio."-Publishers Weekly

"This paranormal mystery will be of interest to young readers looking for something spooky but not violent or scary."-Booklist 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385744713
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 12/01/2015
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: 780L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 12 Years

About the Author

Jessica Haight is a true New Englander, with a deep desire to be near the ocean and a love of the four seasons. She enjoys drawing while standing up, and cultivating magic in her garden. She easily floats away in the pages of a good story and is still waiting for her owl from Hogwarts. Jessica lives in Connecticut with her charming fiancé, James; their dog, Jack; their cat, Bill; and a very entitled bunny named Alice. 
 
Stephanie Robinson lives with her husband in a quiet town, though it is not as quaint as Ashpot. After teaching fifth grade for almost fifteen years, she is now enjoying her role as a school media specialist. One of the many benefits of her job is that she learns something new every day. When Stephanie isn’t working, she spends her time creating stories, getting lost in books, and traveling to new places.
 
Visit thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com to learn more. Follow Jessica and Stephanie on Twitter @dmsfiles.

Read an Excerpt

ONE 

The Begonia House

Fairday Morrow couldn’t help empathizing with Dorothy: she was definitely not in Kansas anymore. She stared out the car window at the passing trees and fields, not quite seeing all the endless possibilities her parents talked so cheerfully about. It wasn’t fair, moving to stupid Ashpot. Fairday wished she weren’t leaving her life in Manhattan behind, and even though she doubted she’d find any real friends, she hoped to connect with someone in the small Connecticut town.

The Morrow family cruiser bumped and jerked down the road as Fairday’s two-year-old sister, Margo, giggled noisily, bouncing along in her seat. Auntie Em, the family pug, was resting next to Fairday, letting out a light snore every now and then. Giving her dog a scratch between the ears, Fairday turned her attention back to the book resting in her lap. It was one of her most prized possessions, and just the sight of it improved her mood. She smiled as she remembered her grandma reading her The Wizard of Oz for the first time. Fairday was only four years old. She’d fallen in love with the characters because of the enchanting voices her grandma had used for each one. Not long after, the Morrows had adopted a puppy, and Fairday had named her Auntie Em because the little dog was always frowning like Dorothy’s aunt. It was funny that even when they’d first brought her home, Auntie Em hadn’t resembled Toto; she’d never had that kind of energy.

Fairday began to lose herself in the sway and motion of the ride and relaxed into the story. Suddenly, Margo belched up milk all over the backseat. “Great,” Fairday muttered, grasping the book protectively to her chest, “just great.”

“Oh, Margo, you’re such a messy baby!” Mrs. Morrow chirped as she reached back and wiped milk off Margo’s face, which now sported a wide grin. She handed the towel to Fairday. “Here you go, sweetie, wipe it off with this.”

Fairday took the wet towel and dropped it on the car floor in disgust. “Why are we moving, again?” she asked.

“We’ve already gone over this, Fairday,” Mr. Morrow chimed in. “Your mother and I have a wonderful vision of our family’s future, and we’re going to make it a reality. With her interior design skills and my wizardry in the kitchen, the Begonia House Bed-and-Breakfast is sure to be a smash hit. Trust me, you’re gonna love it!”

“Not good enough, Dad,” she replied, having yet to get an answer that satisfactorily justified this kind of treachery.

“Well, my dear, it will have to do!” And with that, Mr. Morrow began to sing loudly to the song on the radio. Mrs. Morrow joined in and they were gone, off to la-la land. Fairday sat back in her seat and closed her eyes, doubting that she was “gonna love” the Begonia House, as her father had so optimistically predicted. She doubted it a lot.



The car made a sharp right turn as it began to ascend the narrow, winding road that led to the Begonia House. Fairday glanced out the window, and other than the rough road that tossed them about, she could see nothing but a tangled mesh of woods that seemed to spread over the entire hill. Margo had fallen asleep, and her parents had stopped talking, so it was quiet in the car as they trundled up and up. Finally, as the road began to level out, they reached the front gate. It was enormous and made of iron. Twisted vines were wrapped around its pointed black bars, making it look like the entrance to some kind of morbid secret garden. Across the top of the gate, in large letters, were these words:



FEAR NOT THE UNEXPECTED



“Weird,” Fairday said. “It should say, ‘Fear not living a thousand miles from civilization.’ ”

“Oh, now, Fairday, no eleven-year-old as clever as you ever died of ennui. That’s another word for boredom,” Mr. Morrow said. He had been an English teacher for years and was constantly throwing out “new and exciting” words to improve Fairday’s vocabulary. “I’m sure you’ll find lots to do here. Incidentally, this house has a pretty interesting history, very mysterious. Right up your alley, with your little club and all—the Detective Mystery Squad, right?”

“That’s right!” Mrs. Morrow piped up, turning to face Fairday. “You can invite Lizzy for a sleepover, and you guys can investigate. I’m sure the library has all sorts of information on the history of the house. It’s very famous in these parts, and I’ve even heard rumors that it’s haunted. Wouldn’t that be interesting?” Her mother winked. “After you girls have conducted a thorough investigation, you can fill me in on all the juicy details. If you find something fascinating, we can display it when we open up the Begonia House Bed-and-Breakfast.”

“Humph.” Fairday sulked at the mention of her best friend. Even though the thought of moving into a house that could be haunted was intriguing, the idea of running into a ghost seemed much scarier without Lizzy around. She had met Lizzy Mackerville in the first grade, when Lizzy had moved into Fairday’s neighborhood. At school they had caught sight of each other’s books and realized they had the same taste in stories. During recess, the other kids had made fun of Lizzy because she said You betcha and her accent was different. Fairday had admired how the new girl shrugged off the comments, explaining that everyone in Minnesota talked like her, and her classmates would all sound funny if they moved there. Lizzy’s natural confidence made it easy to be friends with her, and from that day on she and Fairday were inseparable.

Lizzy was short and round, making her seem jolly. Bouncy blond curls framed her heart-shaped face, and she had a bubbly disposition. Fairday was the exact opposite of Lizzy. She was tall and lean, with long black hair that had a mind of its own, so it was always pulled back in a loose ponytail. Her pale face had never had the usual amount of cute baby fat most people cooed over and pinched.

One feature Fairday liked about herself was her eyes. They were an unusual charcoal gray and the reason she had such an uncommon name. Her mother said Fairday’s eyes reminded her of the swirling tides of blue-gray waters that swelled up onto the sandy shores of Nantucket, where she’d grown up. When the weather was less than pleasant on the island, the fishermen would inform the tourists who came to charter their boats, “Jus’ waitin’ on the fair day t’morrow.” And so Fairday was named Fairday Theresa Morrow, or Fairday T. Morrow. Whenever she met new kids, she had to field some annoying criticism in school about it, which went something like, “Fairday? What kind of a name is that?” or “Fairday? More like Bad Hair Day.” But she didn’t care. She liked the story, and she liked her name.



Mr. Morrow found the gate key, which was as black and bizarre-looking as the gate itself, and held it up for everyone to see. It had sharp, skeletal teeth, and the handle was shaped like some sort of grim flower. He made a drumroll on the steering wheel before he exclaimed, “Here we go! I am now opening the gateway to our future!”

He climbed out of the car and walked over to the gate. The key slid easily into the lock, which resembled a wide, gaping mouth, and it clicked as he gave it a turn. He pushed the heavy double gates, and they slowly swung open.

The family was quiet as the car passed through the iron barricade. Auntie Em peered out the window, her nose pressed against the glass. Even Margo was wide-eyed and straining against her car seat straps to check out the scenery. The woods began to thin as they continued toward the house. The drive was now less bumpy, and thankfully they were no longer going up. Mr. Morrow turned the car around a corner, and the outline of an enormous house came into view.

“Here we are!” he said, pulling to the center of the circular drive before putting the car in park. He turned in his seat to face Fairday. “Is it as big as you thought it would be?”

“Uh, yeah,” Fairday mumbled as she looked up at the crooked house. “And just as creepy,” she added.

“Well, let’s get a move on,” Mr. Morrow said as he pushed open the car door.

Mrs. Morrow pulled Margo out of the car seat and lifted her over her shoulder. Margo squealed, pointing at the house. “Uggy, Mommy!”

“See, even Margo thinks it stinks,” Fairday said.

Mrs. Morrow laughed. “Yes, it’s not as beautiful as it once was, I’m sure—”

“But,” Mr. Morrow interrupted, “it will be!” He gave Mrs. Morrow a kiss, made a silly face at Margo, and patted Fairday on the head. “Let’s leave our trunks here for now and come back for them after we’ve had a chance to investigate our new abode. Abode is another word for dwelling, Fairday.” He located the right key and, once again, held it up.

Fairday rolled her eyes. Her father loved to overemphasize everything. Enough with the key drama, she thought. “We get it, Dad,” she said. “New house, key to the future. Can we just go inside now?”

Mr. Morrow unlocked the door without saying anything else. Fairday felt terrible. “I’m sorry. I’m just missing our old home, and it was a long drive,” she said, and hugged her father.

“I know, sweetie. It’s a big move. It will take some time to adjust, but I promise you, this is going to be a real adventure for all of us,” he said, and squeezed Fairday tight.



 Two 

A Disturbing Note

The Morrows gave each other a nervous look and then walked through the double-door entrance of the Begonia House. Auntie Em waddled into the room, sniffed a few times, and as usual, plopped down in a corner and began to snore. Whoa, thought Fairday. This is definitely going to be different from our town house in Manhattan. She scanned her surroundings; it all seemed impossibly huge and frighteningly old. They were standing in a gigantic foyer with a high ceiling and a wide staircase that spiraled down from the upper level. The cracked black-and-white-checkered floor was coated with a thick layer of filth. Hanging from the ceiling was a crystal chandelier that was so covered in dust it looked like a tinkling blob floating ominously above them.

Time seemed to have stopped. Fairday couldn’t believe the size of the place or how dirty it was. The wallpaper was crumbling, and there were cobwebs hanging from every corner. Even the ancient light fixtures were creepy; they reminded her of those fake candles people put out at Halloween. The air had a stale, funny smell that she couldn’t quite identify, something like burnt popcorn. A cold breeze blew through the doorway and sent a chill down her spine, the hair standing up on the back of her neck. Fairday shivered.

Margo began to wail, snapping everyone out of their trance, and time sped back up to normal. “Okay! Lots to do, lots to do,” said Mr. Morrow, clapping his hands.

“Fairday, why don’t you go and pick out your bedroom while I change Margo. There are quite a few to choose from,” said Mrs. Morrow. She smiled at Fairday and then turned to head back out to the car. “Someone needs a fresh diapy, don’t they? My smelly little oogles,” she said, rubbing Margo’s nose with her own, then disappearing through the door.

As Fairday climbed to the second floor, it sounded like every step was shouting a warning that it was about to give way. The upstairs hallway was lit by flickering sconces, which cast an eerie glow over paintings of people dressed in fancy, old-time clothes. As she walked past them, their eyes seemed to watch her surreptitiously. It made Fairday feel a little uneasy to be under such bizarre scrutiny.

As it turned out, Mrs. Morrow was right. The family’s wing of the bed-and-breakfast had quite a few rooms to choose from. Fairday counted a total of eight doors. There were four on the right and three on the left, and there was one at the end of the hall that had a padlock hanging from it. Puzzled, she walked over and pulled down on the lock to see if it would open, but no such luck.

Abandoning that door, she began opening some of the others. One led to a bathroom that was decorated with striped silver-and-gold wallpaper, another opened to a closet that housed the world’s oldest-looking mop and bucket, and yet another led to what she guessed must have been an office, judging by the antique desk and chairs covered in sheets. The remaining four rooms were bedrooms. All of them were big and had windows draped in long velvet curtains.

The drapes in the room Fairday chose were maroon with silver stripes. A circular carpet with a picture of a lion and a unicorn covered the floor. She thought it was the least gaudy of all the bedrooms and kind of liked the carpet. Her window overlooked the backyard, which was covered with yellow grass and contained one old weeping willow. “Well, this is it, I guess,” she said, looking down at the depressing yard.

Fairday left the room and was heading back down the hall when she heard the strangest sound. It was faint, and it was coming from behind the padlocked door. She walked over and put her ear up against it. Something that sounded like music was coming from behind the door, but really odd music. It was high-pitched and whiny. Was she imagining it? She listened for a minute, trying to think of what could possibly make sounds like that, and then she knew. A few years back, her father had taken her to a Scottish festival in the city. She could picture the men onstage dressed in kilts and playing the bagpipes. The sound they made was unforgettable. It was beautiful but melancholy at the same time. Fairday remembered her father laughing about how he hoped it wasn’t going to be a windy day. He had explained that it was an old joke that Scottish men didn’t wear anything under their kilts, and if a strong wind were to blow, the audience would all get to see more than they had paid for. Fairday couldn’t believe there were people who didn’t wear any underwear. Luckily, it had been a calm day, and the men onstage all kept their skirts on.

Suddenly, there was a long, earsplitting note from behind the locked door. Fairday jumped back. She definitely was not imagining this. Someone was behind the door playing the bagpipes!

She turned and ran, her feet flying down the stairs. In her haste, Fairday accidentally tripped over Auntie Em and bumped into her father. Jolting awake, the dog let out a confused bark, looked around in surprise, and settled back into her snoring.

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The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
DonnaGalanti More than 1 year ago
What a fun mystery adventure with a dash of supernatural for kids and grown-ups alike to enjoy! Spunky Fairday Morrow is a good friend full of pluck and curiosity, who stands up for what she believes in and has no time for bullies. Each chapter’s cliffhanger ending raises questions that draws you deeper into the mystery connecting Fairday to Begonia House, the rambling, spooky home her parents plan to turn into a bed and breakfast. Fairday soon enlists friends in the kids-only Detective Mystery Squad (DMS) to find out who is haunting Fairday’s new home with evil intent. Enchanted mirrors, ghostly music, gypsy curses, an unsolved disappearance, and a nod to The Wizard of Oz all eerily come into play behind strange happenings that ramp up the suspense. Fairday and her friends each have their own admirable qualities that should appeal to readers and I’d like to get to know them better as they grow as characters. The parents are nicely served up on the outskirts of the story and the authors do a good job of the young characters taking charge of their own situation and solving it, even when they find themselves having to figure a way out of some dark situations. I especially enjoyed the elderly curmudgeon character, Larry Lovell, who sheds light on the trickery occurring in Fairday’s home and provides important information the DMS uses to solve the puzzle trapped inside the magical walls of Begonia House. This book is a page turner that you’ll want to keep reading to unravel the mystery! The ending is wrapped up neatly but aptly leaves the door open for more tales about the DMS. I eagerly await more adventures of Fairday, her friends, and their investigative adventures!
This_Kid_Reviews_Books More than 1 year ago
Synopsis- Fairday Morrow and her family are moving into a new house, even if Fairday doesn’t like it. It doesn’t help that their house is a supposedly haunted Victorian mansion, called the Begonia House. Apparently, there was controversy about what happened to some of the original residents. They say that the house’s builder’s daughter still haunts the house to this day. Fairday doesn’t believe. But she is curious about the mysterious red-haired lady in some old photographs. But wait – was that some mysterious person in the mirror? Fairday just shrugs it off. Next came the bagpipes. Fairday hears bagpipes playing in a room, and follows the noise, and finds… a ripped up bagpipe that couldn’t make a sound. Fairday will get to the bottom of what is going on in the Begonia House? What I Thought- I really enjoyed this book. It was a marvelously done, debut, thriller novel. Ms. Robinson and Ms. Haight are great authors that really pull you into their story. I couldn’t get out until that final sentence. And, by then I wanted more. To say I want a second book is an understatement. The writing style is compelling, and makes me feel as if I was there with Fairday and her friends. I really like the illustrations in the book. They are like the ribbon on a present, or the icing on the cake. It adds another dimension to the story. I couldn’t put the book down, which may have been a not-so-smart idea, because this book is a horror-thriller kind of book, and I end up reading at night… Yeah, I may or may not have thought I heard bagpipes playing in the night… ;) This was a well-written book! It has enough thriller elements that, while it isn’t Goosebumps, it is creepy in its own way. I was trying to guess what would be happening next, but then another clue would be tossed in, and it would shake my logical reasoning all around, and the story kept me guessing. All over a great read! *NOTE* I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
MysteryMeg424 More than 1 year ago
I give this book two thumbs up! From the moment I opened it, I couldn't put it down. I am a sucker for mystery books, and this one definitely kept me guessing! Following the journey of Fairday, Lizzy, Brocket the Rocket, and the DMS, brought me back to my own childhood and memories of secret clubs with good friends and "detective" research of any and all spooky sounds! The story is well written, with vibrant characters, an impressive vocabulary for young readers, and many clues along the way! My advise to anyone looking to purchase.... "Fear not the unexpected"! You will be pleasantly surprised with what you uncover =)
Fleurtje More than 1 year ago
No one likes to move, and Fairday Morrow is no exception when her parents drag the family to Ashpot, Connecticut to renovate an old house. But this old house proves to be the best place for budding detective Fairday and her DMS (which stands for Detective Mystery Squad, of course), as she delves into the mysteries of Begonia House with its padlocked room and mysterious history… I loved the characters, the setting—this book is the perfect classic spooky house mystery, but with a fresh new take. I felt like a kid again reading this mystery, and I have no doubt that it’ll be a big hit with kids everywhere. The mystery is strong, the family is fun and delightful; The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow is destined to be classic kids mystery.
Ronald Gordon More than 1 year ago
A fun mystery for kids and adults. Lots of suspense that kept me turning the pages and just the right amount of scary. The characters are fun- especially the DMS crew.
Matt Michel More than 1 year ago
THE SECRET FILES OF FAIRDAY MORROW is a fast-paced story of a 5th grade girl whose family has moved from Manhattan and is now immersed in the small Connecticut town of Ashpot, where her parents are pursuing their dream of owning a bed and breakfast. But this is no ordinary bed and breakfast. Instead, Fairday finds herself living in the most unusual Begonia House and engages herself in the haunted history of her new home. As the Senior Investigator of the Detective Mystery Squad, formed years ago with her best friend Lizzy, Fairday is no stranger to uncovering secrets and she uses her ingenuity and intrepid sleuthing skills to get to the heart of the Begonia House mystery. With the help of Lizzy, who is visiting for the weekend, and new friend Marcus, Fairday leads a daring adventure to piece together the clues of the house and its enigmatic original occupants. Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson teamed up for the writing of THE SECRET FILES OF FAIRDAY MORROW, a feat that is impressive on many fronts. Particularly notable is their ability to create a sensory experience for their readers. As Fairday and friends explored the Begonia House, I felt that I was with them – I could see what they saw and hear what they heard. The authors create an excellent sense of tension and anticipation as the children navigate the mysteries of the house, finding and solving an intriguing set of riddles. I also appreciated the inclusion of Fairday’s note-taking skills throughout the book. Not only did this prove that Fairday is an exceptional sleuth, but this also will allow younger readers to focus on the most important clues, effectively expanding their target audience. This book is an excellent selection for readers in the age range of 8 to 14.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I heard about a new children’s book from a local writer and decide to purchase a copy as a gift for my cousin’s daughter. She is an avid reader and really loved the book. I read the book myself, and although a children’s book, I found it enjoyable. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a gift for a 5th-6th grade boy or girl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This mystery brought me right back to the days of reading Nancy Drew stories. I loved that Fairday is such an easy to relate to character. Being from Minnesota, you betcha I loved Lizzy! Marcus is a great character with a fun personality. I liked that the book moved at a fast pace and the mystery kept me turning the pages. So many fun elements that will make readers think and imagine that anything is possible. A mystery for kids and adults to enjoy together! Now I can't wait for book 2 in the series to come out. Looking forward to more adventures with the DMS
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a hit with our whole family. A fun book to read aloud together and the suspense kept us all turning the pages. Fans of mysteries will enjoy finding out what the Begonia House has hidden in its past. Fairday, Lizzy, and Marcus are characters that everyone can relate to and our family can't wait for the next book in the series.
steverino38 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and could not put it down. The plot is clever and fresh. Readers from young to adults will really like this mystery. This is a book that is perfect from which to develop a series as Fairway discovers more things to investigate around her town of Ashpot. I can't stop thinking about how perfectly the authors have created a magical world surrounding a desirable family unit living in small town America. This allows your imagination work overtime.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so glad I picked up this adventure. Going on the mystery with Fairday and friends kept me turning the pages. I never knew what was going to happen next. This is a book that will appeal to both boys and girls from 3rd grade and up. I loved the name Brocket the Rocket and his reason for his cool name. If you like mysteries and books that are a little spooky, then this is the book for you.