#5 The Case of the Cool-Itch Kid by Patricia Reilly Giff, 1989.
Dawn heads off to summer camp! At first, she’s not sure that she really wants to go, even though the idea of riding horses, swimming, and roasting marshmallows sounds appealing. It turns out that there’s only one other girl from her school going, Jill Simon. All of the other girls on the bus to camp are people she doesn’t know from another school called Coolidge (which Dawn pronounces “Cool-Itch”).
Before she leaves home, Dawn receives a package of small presents from her grandmother. Among her grandmother’s gifts are some candy and cookies, a pin, and a small mirror surrounded by seashells that Dawn loves. Later, after their bus stops at a rest stop, she realizes that some of these things are missing. She particularly notices that the pin and the beautiful mirror are gone.
Who is the thief? Could it be one of those kids from Coolidge (“Cool-Itch”)?
Dawn misses her family, especially her grandmother. She hates the food at camp. She’s upset about losing her grandmother’s presents. Worst of all, she realizes that she left her Polka Dot Private Eye box at home! How is she going to solve this mystery?
Part of the story is about the mistakes people make by jumping to conclusions. Right from the beginning, Dawn assumes that her only friend at camp is Jill because the other kids are unfamiliar, and she thinks they’re unfriendly. Also, she assumes that the presents disappeared because they were stolen, but actually, it’s due to a series of accidents and misunderstandings.