A good mystery book for kids is a great way to engage your child in a story they won’t want to put down. From page-turning whodunit books to mysterious events, a mystery book will keep your kids turning pages until the mystery is solved.
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Mystery Books For Elementary-Aged Learners
Mystery books are an exciting genre to introduce to your child. Kids often love reading mystery books and there are so many reasons that age-appropriate mystery books are a fantastic choice.
Mystery books offer a sense of adventure that engages the reader. Mystery books often involve solving puzzles, tracking down clues, and uncovering secrets, which can be exciting and thrilling for children. The adventure and puzzle-solving elements draw the reader into the story, making it an appealing story.
Mystery books are typically full of likable characters. Many mystery books feature relatable and likable characters that children can root for, such as amateur detectives or intrepid young heroes. It’s fun for children to see kids their age using reason and deduction to solve problems.
Reading a mystery book offers various learning opportunities. Mystery books can help children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they try to solve the mystery along with the characters. Many children will try to solve the mystery alongside the main characters, offering them a chance to practice their own thinking skills.
Fantastic mystery books for kids often include suspense and tension. The sense of uncertainty and danger that often comes with a mystery can keep children on the edge of their seats, making them eager to keep reading to find out what happens next. These qualities often help captivate even reluctant readers.
Finally, reading a mystery book can provide a sense of accomplishment. The feeling of having solved the mystery along with the characters can give children a sense of accomplishment and pride, making them more likely to enjoy reading.
63 Thrilling Mystery Books For Kids
Publisher’s Description: “Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ apartment. He is very much a beetle. James Pompaday lives with his family in New York City. He is very much an eleven-year-old boy. After James gets a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin surprises him by creating an elaborate miniature drawing. James gets all the credit for the picture and before these unlikely friends know it they are caught up in a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that could help recover a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer. But James can’t go through with the plan without Marvin’s help. And that’s where things get really complicated (and interesting!). This fast-paced mystery will have young readers on the edge of their seats as they root for boy and beetle.”
Dragons vs. Unicorns (Kate the Chemist)
Publisher’s Description: “Kate the Chemist is a ten-year-old science problem solver. There’s no problem Kate can’t fix! When her best friend, Birdie, is cast as the lead unicorn in their school’s musical Dragons vs. Unicorns, and Kate is chosen to be the assistant director, they agree this is going to be the best musical EVER! Kate is a natural assistant director; like all good scientists, she’s smart and organized, but she also comes up with great ideas. But when everything starts going wrong with the musical and Kate realizes someone is sabotaging the show, will her special science sleuthing skills help save the day–and the show?”
The Best Worst Summer
Publisher’s Description: “This is going to be the worst summer ever for Peyton. Her family just moved, and she had to leave her best friend behind. She’s lonely. She’s bored. Until . . . she comes across a box buried in her backyard, with a message: I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Things are about to get interesting.
Back in 1989, it’s going to be the best summer ever for Melissa and Jessica. They have two whole months to goof around and explore, and they’re even going to bury a time capsule! But when one girl’s family secret starts to unravel, it’s clear things may not go exactly as planned.
In alternating chapters, from Peyton in present day to Melissa three decades earlier (a time with no cell phones, no social media, and camera film that took days to develop, but also a whole lot of freedom), beloved author Elizabeth Eulberg tells the story of a mystery that two sets of memorable characters will never forget.”
The Newspaper Club
Publisher’s Description: “Nellie Murrow — the daughter of two (former) newspaper reporters — was named after one of the fiercest journalists who ever lived. When she moves to sleepy Bear Creek, Maine, rumors of vandalism and attacks at the only park in town are keeping her saddled to the house.
Some townspeople say the attacks are gang recruitments. Others blame a vagrant spotted on the hiking trails around town. But when Nellie thinks like a reporter, none of those explanations make sense. Something is happening at the park, but what? All of the fake online news and rumors are clouding the truth.
Nellie wants to break the story — and break free from the front yard — but she can’t do it alone. She needs a whole club if she’s going to start the Cub Report, the town’s first independent newspaper. Creating a newspaper from scratch is going to be tough; but for Nellie, making friends is even harder.
Mystery on Magnolia Circle
Publisher’s Description: “What happens when two best friends take on the world’s worst summer?
On the first day of vacation, ten-year-old Ivy Crowden falls down the stairs and breaks her leg. Stuck in a plaster cast, she’s certain her summer is doomed. Not even Teddy, her neighbor and best friend, can cheer her up because he’s dealing with his own pain: the loss of a beloved dog.
But when Ivy witnesses a possible burglary from her living room window, her summer takes a sudden turn from meh to mysterious. Who are the criminals? Might a classmate be involved? And . . . uh-oh. A second mystery is nipping at Ivy’s heels. Cue the best friends, the best dog, and the best chance that summer can be saved!”
Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer
Publisher’s Description: “Jamila Waheed is staring down a lonely summer in a new neighborhood–until she meets Shirley Bones. Sure, Shirley’s a little strange, but both girls need a new plan for the summer, and they might as well become friends.
Then this kid Oliver shows up begging for Shirley’s help. His pet gecko has disappeared, and he’s sure it was stolen! That’s when Jamila discovers Shirley’s secret: She’s the neighborhood’s best kid detective, and she’s on the case. When Jamila discovers she’s got some detective skills of her own, a crime-solving partnership is born.
The mystery of the missing gecko turns Shirley and Jamila’s summer upside down. And when their partnership hits a rough patch, they have to work together to solve the greatest mystery of all: What it means to be a friend.”
The Great Pet Heist
Publisher’s Description: “Butterbean knew she wasn’t always a good dog. Still, she’d never considered herself a BAD dog—until the morning that her owner, Mrs. Food, fell in the hallway. Admittedly the tile was slipperier than usual, mostly because Butterbean had just thrown up on it.
Now Butterbean and her fellow pets have to come up with a grand plan to support themselves in case Mrs. Food is unable to keep taking care of them. When they discover a mysterious man in their building who seems to have lots of loot, they plan a heist. Oscar the mynah bird is the brains of the operation. Walt the cat has the necessary slyness and slink. Marco and Polo are the reconnaissance rats. And Butterbean…well, no one would ever suspect a cute little wiener dog, right? Can these animal friends can pull off the heist of the century?”
Publisher’s Description: “Noah just wants some peace and quiet to finish his homework. But his little brother Josh can’t stop talking about the Haunted House. When they go to check it out, the brothers find out they are not the only kids on the case.
Olivia is new in town. But she already has a high tech plan to spy on the Haunted House. The three kids join forces to find out the truth. But when Josh goes missing, Noah and Olivia have to decide which is worse- the risk of the Haunted House, or the risk of losing Josh!”
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Publisher’s Description: “When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort-she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She saved her money, and she invited her brother Jamie to go, mostly because he was a miser and would have money.
Claudia was a good organizer and Jamie had some ideas, too; so the two took up residence at the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; she found a statue at the Museum so beautiful she could not go home until she had discovered its maker, a question that baffled the experts, too.
The former owner of the statue was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Without her—well, without her, Claudia might never have found a way to go home.”
John Patrick Green
Publisher’s Description: “With their Very Exciting Spy Technology and their tried-and-true, toilet-based travel techniques, the InvestiGators are undercover and on the case! And on their first mission together, they have not one but two mysteries to solve! Can Mango and Brash uncover the clues, crack their cases, and corral the crooks―or will the criminals wriggle out of their grasp?”
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
Donald J. Sobol
Leroy Brown is known in his neighborhood as Encyclopedia Brown because he is a 10-year-old boy who can solve neighborhood mysteries with his detective business. He also helps his father, the chief of police, solve baffling cases as they discuss them around the dinner table. This fantastic book is interactive for the reader because they can try to solve the mystery alongside Encyclopedia and then check their answer in the back.
Nate the Great
Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Publisher’s Description: “Nate the Great has a new case! His friend Annie has lost a picture. She wants Nate to help her find it. Nate the Great must get all the facts, ask the right questions, and narrow the list of suspects so he can solve the mystery.”
Publisher’s Description: “The Monroes have gone on vacation, leaving Harold and Chester at Chateau Bow-Wow — not exactly a four-star hotel. On the animals’ very first night there, the silence is pierced by a peculiar wake-up call — an unearthly howl that makes Chester observe that the place should be called Howliday Inn.”
The Boxcar Children
Gertrude Chandler Warner
Publisher’s Description: “Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are brothers and sisters. They’re orphans too, and the only way they can stay together is to make it on their own. When the children find an abandoned boxcar in the woods, they decide to call it home―and become the Boxcar Children!”
Publisher’s Description: “Why were the Easter Island heads erected? What really happened to the Maya? Who stole the Irish Crown Jewels? The first book in this exciting new series will cover history’s heavy-hitting, head-scratching mysteries, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Bermuda Triangle, the Oak Island Money Pit, Stonehenge, the Sphinx, the disappearance of entire civilizations, the dancing plague, the Voynich manuscript, and so many more. Chock-full of cool photos, fun facts, and spine-tingling mysteries.”
Publisher’s Description: “Ellie “Scaredy Bat” Spark is beyond excited when she’s invited to investigate a stolen painting. But if Ellie’s fear of the dark stalls the case, the new exhibit will close and her mother won’t get to display her art.
With only a few hours to solve the puzzle, Ellie recruits her friends to uncover the twisted truth and stop the art thief. Suspecting everyone from bitter curators to mischievous ghosts, their only clue is an empty painting frame.”
The Buried Bones Mystery (Clubhouse Mystery #1)
Sharon M. Draper
Publisher’s Description: “Ziggy and his friends Rico, Rashawn, and Jerome build a clubhouse in Ziggy’s backyard and decide to bury their secret treasures nearby. But when the boys start digging, they uncover a box of bones and are swept up in a mystery more intriguing—and scary—than anything they could have imagined. Who could have buried a box of bones behind their clubhouse?”
Join Bradley, Brian, Nate, and Lucy as they solve a mystery every month. The 13 books in this series are sure to delight the clue-loving reader. This is a great series that your younger elementary school readers will enjoy.
Publisher’s Description: “Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to care for, and even Winterhouse itself?”
Publisher’s Description: “After a mean collector named Swindle cons him out of his most valuable baseball card, Griffin Bing must put together a band of misfits to break into Swindle’s compound and recapture the card. There are many things standing in their way — a menacing guard dog, a high-tech security system, a very secret hiding place, and their inability to drive — but Griffin and his team are going to get back what’s rightfully his . . . even if hijinks ensue. This is Gordon Korman at his crowd-pleasing best, perfect for readers who like to hoot, howl, and heist.”
The Great Shelby Holmes
Publisher’s Description: “Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth grader. She’s nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen–always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes.
When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that’s eluded her up till now: a friend. The easy-going John isn’t sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that’ll take both their talents to crack.”
Publisher’s Description: “When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra and Calder together, strange things start to happen: Seemingly unrelated events connect; an eccentric old woman seeks their company; an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one is spared from suspicion. As Petra and Calder are drawn clue by clue into a mysterious labyrinth, they must draw on their powers of intuition, their problem-solving skills, and their knowledge of Vermeer. Can they decipher a crime that has stumped even the FBI?”
Fairy Tale Detectives
Publisher’s Description: “Enter a world of fractured fairy tales and magical mysteries in this first installment of the beloved New York Times bestselling Sisters Grimm series.”
Publisher’s Description: “Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: CIA or bust. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” In fact, Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap. Because of his innate nerdiness, Ben is not surprised when he is recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science—but he’s entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior CIA academy. Could the CIA really want him?”
Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Publisher’s Description: “The first time Melanie Ross meets April Hall, she’s not sure they have anything in common. But she soon discovers that they both love anything to do with ancient Egypt. When they stumble upon a deserted storage yard, Melanie and April decide it’s the perfect spot for the Egypt Game. Before long there are six Egyptians, and they all meet to wear costumes, hold ceremonies, and work on their secret code. Everyone thinks it’s just a game until strange things start happening. Has the Egypt Game gone too far?”
Super Detectives! (Simon and Chester Book #1)
Publisher’s Description: “A ghost and a kid team up to solve mysteries and do fun stuff! A hilarious new graphic novel series for fans of Bad Guys and Dog Man.
Welcome to the world of Simon and Chester, ghost and boy duo extraordinaire.
They don’t like chores.
They are best friends.
And they are about to solve the MYSTERY OF A LIFETIME.
(Oh, and eat some snacks probably.)”
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Publisher’s Description: “Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.”
Publisher’s Description: “When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her. But nothing can prepare her for what awaits. Because when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, fleeing murderous villains, and trying to elude her shrewd older brothers—all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother’s strange disappearance. Amid all the mayhem, will Enola be able to decode the necessary clues and find her mother?”
Publisher’s Description: “So you’re only halfway through your homework and the Director of the FBI keeps texting you for help…What do you do? Save your grade? Or save the country?”
Publisher’s Description: “A is for Author . . . A famous writer is coming to Green Lawn! Dink rushes to the bookstore to meet his favorite author, Wallis Wallace, and get all his books signed. But the author never shows up! Where is Wallis Wallace? It’s up to Dink and his friends Josh and Ruth Rose to track him down.”
The Secret of the Old Clock
This is the first book in the classic Nancy Drew series – America’s favorite teenage sleuth! In this adventure, an accidental rescue of a little girl leads to a search for a missing will.
Midnight at Barclay Hotel
Publisher’s Description: “When JJ Jacobson convinced his mom to accept a surprise invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway at the illustrious Barclay Hotel, he never imagined that he’d find himself in the midst of a murder mystery. He thought he was in for a run-of-the-mill weekend ghost hunting at the most haunted spot in town, but when he arrives at the Barclay Hotel and his mother is blamed for the hotel owner’s death, he realizes his weekend is going to be anything but ordinary.
Now, with the help of his new friends, Penny and Emma, JJ has to track down a killer, clear his mother’s name, and maybe even meet a ghost or two along the way.”
Serafina and the Black Cloak
Publisher’s Description: “Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.
But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity… before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.”
Hither & Nigh
Publisher’s Description: “Nell Batista has been in trouble one too many times. Now she’s down to her last chance—literally. Join the Last Chance Club or be expelled from school. The kids in the club are an odd group, but when their teacher starts giving lessons in magic, things quickly go completely off the weird scale. Nell doesn’t believe in it at first; after all, she’s a smart city kid, and there has been nothing magical in her life since her brother, River, disappeared three years ago.
But this magic is real—and powerful. As their skills grow, Nell and her new friends discover a parallel New York City called the Nigh. It’s a place as delightful as it is scary, sizzling with magical energy, where statues can talk, magicians ride on giant dogs, and monsters roam Central Park. And it is all controlled by the terrifying Minister, who might hold the key to finding Nell’s missing brother. Just how far will Nell go to find him, and who can she trust in a world topsy turvy with enchantment?”
Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls
Publisher’s Description: “After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results.
But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…”
William Wenton and the Impossible Puzzle
Publisher’s Description: “Twelve-year-old William Wenton is a puzzle-solving genius. He lives with his family in a quiet Norwegian town. They used to live in England, but eight years ago his family suddenly packed up, moved away, and even changed their last name! Neither of his parents will offer an explanation or tell William why he has to keep his talent for solving codes and puzzles a secret. But then a special exhibit comes to the local museum: the Impossible Puzzle. The experts say it is unsolvable, but William’s sure that he can crack it if he gets a chance.
However, when he does, everything begins to go wrong. Suddenly William is whisked off to a strange school filled with robots and kids whose skills are almost as good as his own. But what’s really going on? And what’s the secret involving William’s grandfather? And is there anyone he can trust?”
The London Eye Mystery
Publisher’s Description: “Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim board the London Eye, but after half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off—except Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air? Ted and his older sister, Kat, become sleuthing partners, since the police are having no luck. Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery.”
Mystery In Rocky Mountain National Park
Publisher’s Description: “Before Jake’s grandfather died, he was on the trail of a centuries-old mystery. And he has entrusted that mystery to Jake, leaving behind a set of hidden codes, riddles, maps, and other clues that lead Jake and his friends on a scavenger hunt into the heart of Colorado’s wild and rugged Rocky Mountain National Park.
Through twists and turns, the mystery unfolds while Jake, Amber, and Wes learn about survival skills, natural history, integrity, character, and friendship.
Along the way, they discover they are not the only ones on this quest. An elusive shadow group is close on their heels.”
The Secret Lake
Publisher’s Description: “When Stella and her younger brother, Tom, move to their new London home, they become mystified by the disappearance of Harry, their elderly neighbor’s small dog. Where does he go? And why does he keep reappearing wet-through?
Their quest to solve the riddle over the summer holidays leads to a boat buried under a grassy mound, and a tunnel that takes them to a secret lake.
Who is the boy rowing towards them who looks so terrified? And whose are those children’s voices carried on the wind from beyond the woods?
Stella and Tom soon discover that they have traveled back in time to their home and its gardens almost 100 years earlier. Here they make both friends and enemies and uncover startling connections between the past and present.
The Secret Zoo
Publisher’s Description: “Noah, his sister Megan, and their best friends, Richie and Ella, live next door to the zoo. Megan is the first to notice the puzzling behavior of some of the animals. One day Megan disappears, and her brother and their friends realize it’s up to them to find her. Their only choice is to follow a series of clues and sneak into the zoo. But once inside, they discover there’s much more to the Clarksville City Zoo than they could ever have guessed…”
Publisher’s Description: “Amateur cryptologist Harley James has just landed in the sticky jungle of Tikal, Guatemala—home to the famous Mayan ruins. She’s made a few friends, a few mistakes…and a ground-breaking discovery.
The legendary statue of the long-lost Mayan King. Just as she is about to impress her father with her discovery, the statue is stolen. Right from her own room!
And what’s worse? The legend says if the statues of the three kings are reunited, they’ll bring back an army from the dead to rule the world.”
The Feather Chase
Shannon L. Brown
Publisher’s Description: “Twelve-year-old cousins Sophie and Jessica don’t have much in common. Sophie loves hiking and her small town. Jessica would rather be shopping in a city. The only mystery is how they’ll be able to spend the summer together.
Then . . . they find a briefcase in the forest with a surprise inside. When they hear footsteps behind them and bad guys run after them, they have no choice but to work together to solve the mystery of The Feather Chase.”
Publisher’s Description: “Following the clues concealed within a centuries-old family legacy, Timmi Tobbson and his friends hope to save a dear friend. But only twenty-four hours remain to unravel the legend of a long-lost pirate ship, buried somewhere deep beneath the city streets. Unbeknownst to them, their search awakens a mystical dark power, sworn to protect what is hidden on board the once famous Star Runner.
The adventure is divided into 31 concise chapters, each of which ends with a puzzle to be solved by finding and interpreting visual clues concealed within a beautiful color illustration.”
Case Closed #1: Mystery in the Mansion
Publisher’s Description: “Carlos Serrano has never solved a mystery in his life. But when Carlos’s mom gets sick with a flu on the morning of an investigation that could save her failing detective agency, Carlos takes on the case.
With the help of his best friend, Eliza, and her wild little brother, Frank, Carlos must uncover a mystery involving an eccentric local millionaire, anonymous death threats, and a buried treasure. But with tricky riddles, cagey suspects, hidden secrets, and dozens of impossible choices, they need your help!
Can you help Carlos and his friends find the culprit and save Las Pistas Detective Agency? Or will it be case closed?”
Sleepover Sleuths: Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew
Publisher’s Description: “Nancy and her two best friends, George and Bess, are so excited! They have been invited to Deirdre’s sleepover party! There will be pizza, cake, and even a pajama fashion show. But the most exciting thing is that the party has a City Girls doll theme. All of the guests are bringing their dolls with them!
But then Deirdre’s City Girls doll — Hollywood Heather — goes missing. Is her sleepover ruined? Or is there a detective in the room who can make sense of this mystery?”
Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure
Alex T. Smith
Publisher’s Description: “When Bouddica Bones from the Museum of Extraordinary Objects calls for help in locating prized valuables, Mr. Penguin and his kung fu spider sidekick, Colin, swing into action. Following a map and clues, Mr. Penguin stumbles onto secret staircases, alligators, and falling toilets.
Things really take a turn for the worse when Mr. Penguin learns the real crooks are closer to snatching the loot than he thought! Can Mr. Penguin foil this perilous plot and get home in time for a fish finger sandwich?”
Knightley and Son
Publisher’s Description: “The once highly in-demand detective Alan Knightley has just woken up after an unexplained incident kept him asleep for four years. While he was out cold, his son, Darkus, took it upon himself to read of all his dad’s old cases, and he’s learned a lot about the art of detection. It’s a good thing too because suddenly the duo finds themselves caught up in a crazy conspiracy that involves a group of villainous masterminds (who keep appearing and then vanishing), some high-speed car chases (that will have everyone fastening their seat belts), and a national, bestselling book with the power to make people do terrible, terrible things. But because Alan is still suffering the effects of his coma, he tends to, well, fall asleep at the worst possible moments, Meaning that young Darkus might just have to solve this mystery . . . by himself.”
Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head
Lauren Oliver and H. C. Chester
Publisher’s Description: “Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife-thrower, joins the group, it sets off an unforgettable chain of events.
When the museum’s Amazonian shrunken head is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts.”
The Dollhouse Murders
Betty Ren Wright
Publisher’s Description: “Amy is terrified. She hears scratching and scurrying noises coming from the dollhouse in the attic, and the dolls she was playing with are not where she left them. Dolls can’t move by themselves, she tells herself. But every night when Amy goes up to check on the dollhouse, it’s filled with an eerie light and the dolls have moved again! Are the dolls trying to tell her something? Could this all be connected to the murders of her great-grandparents?”
Summer of the Woods (Virginia Mysteries)
Steven K. Smith
Publisher’s Description: “When young brothers Derek and Sam move with their family to Virginia, they have no idea what adventures the summer will bring. As they explore their creaky old house and the deep surrounding woods, they uncover a sixty-year-old mystery of a valuable coin collection stolen from the local museum. Join the boys as they spend their summer running from danger and searching the woods, secret caves, rushing waters, and hidden passageways for treasure and the rare 1877 Indian Head cent coin!”
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Emily’s family has moved to San Fransisco, home city of her favorite book publisher, Garrison Griswold, creator of the exciting game: Book Scavenger. She discovers that Griswold is in the hospital at the same time he has an epic new game ready to launch. Emily and her new friend, James, discover an old book that they believe contains the only copy of the game. Now they must race from clue to clue and solve this mystery before the men who hurt Griswold come after them as well.
Mysterious Benedict Society
Trenton Lee Stewart
A mysterious ad appears in the newspaper and attracts dozens of children to take a series of tests. After the testing, four special children succeed and become part of a secret mission as undercover students at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. They face trials and challenges beyond any they could have imagined, but they face them together.
The unique characters and mysterious setting make this a fun read for the whole family. My kids were 11, 8, and 6 when I read this book out loud to them. The plot made us want to solve puzzles of our own as well. This is a fantastic book to kick off a mystery series for kids.
Escape From Mr. Lemoncellos Library
Kyle Keeley is a huge fan of games, and his hero, Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, the most famous and creative game maker in the world, happens to be the genius behind the creative new town library. Kyle wins a spot as one of the 12 kids to be in the library the night before it opens. The night is full of games and contests as the 12 kids race to be the one to find the escape route out of the locked library.
This book is a ton of fun – full of games and puzzle-solving. Kids will love it, especially book-loving kids because so many of the games and puzzles in the library revolve around books.
Maze of Bones
Publisher’s Description: “Minutes before she died Grace Cahill changed her will, leaving her descendant an impossible decision: “You have a choice – one million dollars or a clue.”Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world’s most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family power is lost. 39 Clues hidden around the world will reveal the family’s secret, but no one has been able to assemble them. Now the clues race is on, and young Amy and Dan must decide what’s important: hunting clues or uncovering what REALLY happened to their parents.”
NOTE: My 9-year-old was very sensitive and not ready for this book, even though she was in the correct age range. If you have sensitive kids, the concept of family suspecting each other and even hurting each other to solve the puzzle might be too much.
Publisher’s Description: “Red Sox versus Cubs. Game five. It looks like Mike and Kate are about to watch the Cubs win it all. But then someone starts messing with the team—ruining equipment, getting Cubs players in trouble, and even stirring up an old baseball curse. Now the Red Sox are coming back! Who will win the ultimate baseball trophy? And can Mike and Kate make sure it’s won fair and square?”
Dying to Meet You
Ignatius B. Grumply, a best-selling author, has writer’s block and decides to take some time away. He rents the Victorian mansion at 43 Old Cemetery Road but fails to read the rental agreement clearly. He quickly realizes that he is sharing the house with an 11-year-old child, his cat, and a supposedly…a ghost. The current residents are so certain they want Ignatius to join them, but will the three of them find a way to work it out?
The main reason for my 4-star rating (instead of 3) is that this story is told in such a creative manner. The entire book is a collection of letters written between the characters, various newspaper clippings, and contracts. This would be a fun read for kids to experience a story through a very different style. I thoroughly enjoyed the humor in the newspaper clippings in particular.
FYI: Yes, there is a ghost in this story, but nothing is particularly scary. She isn’t mean or spooky at all. She helps Ignatius write his next story and takes care of Seymour, the boy living at the mansion. The entire situation isn’t particularly realistic (including Seymour’s parents leaving him to the care of the renter) so the ghost feels just as silly.
Secret Spy Society: The Case of the Missing Cheetah
Publisher’s Description: “It’s a dark and stormy night when three sleuthing little girls get pulled into a web of mystery. They have mistakenly uncovered a secret society of some of the most famous female spies in history. A glamorous spy named Josephine Baker enlists the girls to find out who has kidnapped Chiquita, her precious pet cheetah. Do the girls have what it takes to become spies themselves?
Crime Bitters: My Dog is Better Than Your Dog
Publisher’s Description: “Jimmy Bishop loves doing 3 things: 1) Laughing at funny dog videos online, 2) watching his favorite show (Stop! Police!) on TV, 3) and reading his favorite vampire book (Fang Goodness) over and over. His self-involved older sister and workaholic Mom think he needs to stop obsessing already! But when his Dad finally allows Jimmy to get a puppy before school starts, everything changes and Jimmy has something new to focus on: his amazing dog, Abby who seems to have some very unusual habits. She sleeps all day but is wired at night, and she runs from the garlic kelp biscuit made by Jimmy’s strange new babysitter Mrs. Cragg. There’s just something different about Abby. Could she possibly be…a vampire? Jimmy’s best friend Irwin thinks Jimmy’s being ridiculous, but then when Abby uncovers a real crime in progress and helps him become friends with an actual, human girl, even Irwin has to admit that perhaps Abby might have some superpowers after all.”
Publisher’s Description: “Basil—the famous sleuth of mousedom—lives in the cellar of Sherlock Holmes’s house. A devoted admirer of the great detective, he has learned his craft by listening at the feet of Holmes himself. But will it be enough to help Basil solve his most baffling mystery yet?
The Mystery of the Missing Twins is one of the strangest cases in Basil’s career. With only a few crumbs of clues with which to find answers, how is he ever going to figure out where Angela and Agatha are being kept—and, of course, who mouse-napped them! Will Basil’s mouse sleuthing skills be up to the task of finding the twins before it’s too late?”
Publisher’s Description: “Meet Myron: a third-grade detective who loves logic, facts and solving mysteries. He does not love new things. Unfortunately, everything is new this year: Myron has a new baby sister, his family has moved across town, and now he’s starting his first day at a new school. But when the school kitchen is burgled, leaving the morning snacks nowhere to be found, Myron gets his chance to crack the case with help from his classmates from Resource Room 15.
Myron’s unique perspective from the autism spectrum makes him a top-notch sleuth. Similarly, the other kids in his resource room demonstrate creative problem solving and unique talents that come in handy for the case. Together with his detective partner, the hyper-energetic Hajrah, and tech-savvy Danielle, known as “Glitch,” Myron gets to the bottom of the mystery ― all while trying to avoid the school bully, Sarah “Smasher” McGuintley, who’s intent on sabotaging their efforts.”
Join Cat and her friends on their field trip to visit Mount Rushmore. Things quickly get very mysterious.
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief
Wendelin Van Draanen
Publisher’s Description: “Sammy Keyes must be a magnet for trouble…
I mean it’s bad enough that she has to live illegally in a seniors-only building with her grandmother while her mother tries to make it as a move star. And worse that she witnessed a burglary in progress–and that the theif saw her. And worse still that nosy neighbor Mrs. Graybill is onto her, and that the thief is after her. But on top of all that, she also manages to make an enemy of the queen of mean at her new school and get suspended on the first day.”
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
Publisher’s Description: “Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.
But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each with an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.”
The Case of the Missing Moonstone
(The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency)
Publisher’s Description: “Lady Ada Byron, age eleven, is a genius. Isolated, awkward and a bit rude—but a genius. Mary Godwin, age fourteen, is a romantic. Adventurous, astute, and kind, Mary is to become Ada’s first true friend. And together, the girls conspire to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency—a secret constabulary for the apprehension of clever criminals. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects. But it’s no match for the deductive powers and bold hearts of Ada and Mary.”
Additional Book Lists For Kids
Graphic Novels for Elementary School – 30 graphic novels that your kids will love
Fantastic Fiction Books for Ages 8-10 – A list of some of my favorite fiction books for kids
Best Winter-Themed Chapter Books for Kids – a list of great books to curl up with this winter
10 Children’s Poets Your Kids will Love – check out these fabulous children’s poets
Ultimate List of Graphic Novels for Kids of All Ages – this list contains over 150 graphic novels so you are sure to find one for your child
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- Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus Book Review and Homeschool Study - September 27, 2023