The Mary Rose and Jo-Beth Mysteries by Eth Clifford are about a pair of sisters and the adventures that they have with their dad, although for much of their adventures the girls find themselves on their own, exploring unusual places. Mary Rose and Jo-Beth Onetree live in the Indianapolis area of Indiana in the United States, but they like to go on car trip with their father, Harry Onetree, who is a newspaper columnist. Their father loves to take side roads and seek out unusual places and people that he can write about, which frequently gets them into trouble. He does this on the spur of the moment and can be rather careless about things like making sure his gas tank is full and that he remembered to set his parking break, which also complicates this odd little excursions. The family has a special fondness for museums, especially ones with unusual themes, which are often the setting for the stories.The girls age throughout the books, although they all take place in about a year or less. In the first book, when their little brother is born, Jo-Beth, the younger girl, is seven years old, and she turns eight in the last book. Mary Rose is eleven years old for all or most of the series. Their mother and the baby, Harry Two, are mentioned in all of the books but never seen.
The two girls have opposite personalities with Mary Rose as the practical, responsible one, and Jo-Beth as the dramatic, imaginative dreamer. Part of the fun of the books is in the way Jo-Beth delights in imagining doom and gloom with dramatic descriptions of how hopeless their situation is (she practically writes movie scripts or novels in her head) while Mary Rose tries to work out a practical solution to their problems. In spite of their differences, the girls get along well and rely on each other to decide how best to handle the situations they find themselves in. The books in this series are also frequently about something other than the immediate mystery that the girls face. The themes of the stories involve a combination of human feelings and social issues, but they are dealt with gently and optimistically.
Most people know the first book in the series best, and it’s often used in schools. The other books in the series aren’t as well-known, but they’re still a lot of fun.
The first book in the series. Mary Rose and Jo-Beth find themselves accidentally locked in a strange library during a blizzard with the creepy feeling that they’re not alone.
On a car trip to visit their grandmother, the girls and their father are stranded in a ghost town that may be inhabited by an actual ghost.
When the girls’ cousin tries to run away, they search for him on a small island in the middle of a lake that has an amusement park that has been closed for the season. The girls have a harrowing time on a ride that turns on by itself and face down criminals who are hunting for something on the island.
The girls search for a thief in a museum dedicated to historical shoes from around the world. Their search takes them into the home of the museum’s owner, which is really more like a funhouse than an ordinary house.
The girls’ father takes them to a trolley museum, and the girls become convinced that the place might be haunted. Is there a ghost or have the manikins in the museum suddenly come to life?