A night at the museum and a broken sculpture lead to artistic injustice—unless Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew can find the true culprit!
Nancy, Bess, and George are so excited. Their favorite new art teacher, Miss Alcott, is taking them on their best class trip yet—a sleepover at the River Heights museum! The girls can’t wait to see some famous paintings, eat fancy food at the museum cafeteria, and have a great time with their classmates on the sleepover.
But when an expensive sculpture gets broken, the River Heights students get blamed. Nancy knows her class didn’t do it, so it’s up to the Clue Crew to find the real culprit before Miss Alcott gets in trouble and the whole field trip is ruined!
Museum Mayhem A Work of Art Eight-year-old Nancy Drew held the mirror in her hand, studying the shape of her right eye. She kept looking at her drawing, then back at her reflection. She wanted to get it just right. “I think my eyes look like bugs . . . ,” Nancy said finally.
Her best friend George Fayne leaned over to see. Nancy had a point. Her hair looked the way it did in real life, but her eyes were big ovals with a line down the center. The lashes curled out on both sides, kind of like creepy bug legs.
“A little bit,” George said. “The insides look weird. What do you call those things?”
“The pupils!” Miss Alcott said as she walked by. She was carrying a tray of art supplies. There were old coffee cans full of paintbrushes and rolled up tubes of paint. “You need to fill them out a bit, that’s all. Good work, girls.”
Nancy looked at her reflection again, then made the pupil a circle instead of a line. Miss Alcott had given her the perfect tip. The circle really did make her eyes look more real.
“Sometimes it seems like she knows everything,” Nancy whispered to George.
Bess Marvin stood two easels over. She was hard at work on her self-portrait. Bess was Nancy’s other best friend and George’s cousin. She loved fashion and design. Whenever they were in art together, Bess was quiet. She would work the entire class and never look up from her drawing.
“My mom told me that Miss Alcott studied in Spain for two years before coming to River Heights Elementary,” George said.
“No way,” Nancy whispered. “I heard she plays the guitar too. Hannah thought she saw a poster for her band at the music club downtown.”
The girls watched their teacher move around the classroom, weaving between easels. She dropped off a few pencils and erasers to different students. Miss Alcott was the coolest teacher to ever come to their school. She had a purple streak in her hair and wore peacock-feather earrings. She was always showing the class famous paintings or drawings. Once she even brought in a collage she had done of New York City—where she grew up. The buildings were made out of newspaper and scraps of glittery fabric, which made them sparkle. Nancy had never seen a piece of art like that before.
Sydney Decker, a student at the easel beside them, seemed to be listening to their conversation. Sydney was supersmart. She always got As on her science tests and math tests, even when everyone else failed. “I heard she traveled all around Peru,” Sydney chimed in. “She told Jess Ramos that she got her bag in Lima.”
“Lima?” George asked. “Like the bean?”
“No, silly,” Sydney said. “Lima—the capital of Peru. You know, Machu Picchu?”
Nancy and George shared a look. They had heard of Peru before, but sometimes it felt like Sydney was speaking another language. Geography was one of her favorite subjects, so she always talked about different countries. Sometimes they would catch her looking at maps in computer class.
Robby Parsons looked up from his drawing. He wasn’t very good at art, so his pictures always ended up a bit strange. His nose looked like a mushroom. His eyes were two different shapes and sizes. Miss Alcott liked to call his drawings “abstract.”
“Do you know where she lives?” Robby asked. “It has to be somewhere cool.”
“She lives downtown in one of those giant gray buildings,” Nancy whispered.
“Yeah,” George agreed. “We saw her when we were getting ice cream at the Scoop. She was going inside.”
“Are you sure?” Robby asked.
Nancy almost laughed at the question. Of course she and George were sure. Together with Bess, they formed the Clue Crew. They were always searching for clues and were pretty good detectives. They helped solve mysteries around River Heights. Sometimes it was a stolen wallet or cell phone. Other times it was more serious. They’d once helped an old lady find a missing puppy.
“Definitely,” Nancy answered Robby. “She was carrying two bags of groceries.”
As Robby went back to his drawing, Miss Alcott set down the last of the art supplies on her desk. She glanced up at the clock. “We only have a few more minutes, so finish up your self-portraits,” she said. “And I want to remind everyone about our field trip on Friday.”
At the words “field trip,” the entire class erupted in cheers. “Par-ty! Par-ty!” Robby chanted. His best friend, Kevin Lim, let out a few loud hoots.
“It’s not a party. . . .” Miss Alcott laughed. “Though I promise we’ll have a lot of fun. As all of you know, the Simon Cross Art Institute has agreed to let us tour and sleepover at the museum. We’ll spend the night in their medieval armor wing.”
“Do we have to bring tents?” Amelia Davis asked.
“Just your sleeping bag and pillow,” Miss Alcott said. “And anything else you need to be comfortable.”
“Like your teddy bear,” Kevin laughed. Amelia shot him a dirty look.
“Those armor dudes are scary!” Robby yelled. “I went there a few years ago, and they all had these giant swords.”
“What will we do there?” George asked.
“At the museum, we’ll go on a tour and eat at the restaurant. We’ll draw and paint in the classrooms. There are so many incredible works of art there. I can’t wait to show you the impressionist wing. They even have an early Monet.” Miss Alcott looked so happy as she described it, even if the rest of the class wasn’t sure exactly which artist she was talking about. They’d only had art class for a few weeks. It was hard to remember all the different names.
As the class ended, Miss Alcott went around the room again, collecting stray pencils and mirrors. “Make sure you get your permission slips to me by Thursday at the latest,” she said. “You’ll need them for the trip. Great job, Bess,” she added as she passed Bess’s drawing.
“You have to let us see,” George said. She leaned over, trying to get a better look.
Bess pulled it away. “One minute. I have to fix my lips.”
Nancy and George waited impatiently, ready to see the secret drawing Bess had been hiding from them the entire class.
“Come on Bess! We’re dying to see it,” Nancy cried.
Finally, Bess spun her sketch pad around, revealing the picture she’d been working on. The girl in the drawing had the same eyes as Bess. She had the same thick bangs and light shoulder length hair. She even had the same way of smiling that Bess did.
“That’s amazing!” George said. “The drawing looks exactly like you.”
Bess’s cheeks turned pink. “Thanks. So . . . what did I miss?”
Nancy and George laughed. “Are you serious? You didn’t hear anything Miss Alcott said?”
Bess shrugged. “I guess I was really concentrating. . . .”
“She reminded us about the field trip on Friday. Don’t forget your permission slip,” Nancy said. She grabbed her backpack and headed for the door with George. Bess tucked her sketch pad in her cubby, then followed behind them.
“How could I forget? I’ve been excited for the last two weeks. Did you know that the Simon Cross Art Institute has a two-story mural in it? Or this room where you can throw paint on the walls?”
“That’s crazy,” Nancy said.
“It’s a special exhibit!” Bess said.
“I’ve been saving my allowance,” George said. “I want to get something cool from the gift shop.”
The girls huddled together in the hallway. Nancy was smiling so much her face hurt. Field trips at River Heights were always so much fun, and now they were going to have one with their favorite teacher. “Dinner with Miss Alcott, a sleepover with all our friends . . . what could be better than this?”
George wrapped her arms around Bess and Nancy. “Nothing!” She yelled it so loud that half the hallway turned around.
Nancy laughed. Even if George could be a little silly, she knew her friend was right: Friday would be the best field trip yet.
Peter Francis lives in Brighton, UK, where he spent a number of years as an illustrator for children’s television before turning to books. When not painting in his studio, he enjoys long coastal walks, exploring local history, and growing vegetables.