Mystery Books for Young Sleuths

Do you know a young person who likes to solve puzzles? Why not try a mystery or detective story? Mysteries are an excellent way for children to practice problem-solving skills and develop critical thinking abilities. Stories such as The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin require readers to decipher actual codes and puzzles. Other stories such as Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald Sobol place clues and hints throughout for the reader to find. Readers must pay attention to the details within the story in order to discover the final solution.

Mysteries offer readers a chance to experience adventure and suspense in a variety of settings and time periods. One example is City of Orphans by Avi.  This historical mystery about thirteen-year old Maks Geless takes place in New York City in the year 1893.  After his sister is arrested for stealing a watch, Maks teams with a homeless girl to prove his sister’s innocence. Readers will enjoy the detailed account of what life was like for new immigrants during this time period.

Additionally, mysteries include interesting characters to whom the reader can easily relate. One of my favorite mystery series I read as a child was about Trixie Belden, a spunky 13-year-old living in the town of Sleepyside. This series by Julie Campbell (beginning with The Secret of the Mansion) introduced me to a world that I wanted to visit and to characters I wanted to meet.

There are many mystery books for children of all ages in the Mercer County Library System. Below are some of my favorites.

Olivia …and the Missing Toy by Ian Falconer
Ages: 4-8
Summary: When her best toy mysteriously disappears, Olivia the feisty pig is determined to find out who is responsible.

The Web Files by Margie Palatini
Ages: 4-8
Summary: Ducktective Web and his partner try to quack the case of the pilfered peck of perfectly picked pickled peppers.

Nate the Great Goes Undercover by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Ages 6-9
Summary: Nate the Great takes on his first night case and tries to solve the mystery of the garbage snatcher. Includes an extra section of suggested activities, jokes, and recipes.

Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones by David Adler
Ages: 6-9
Summary: When she notices some bones missing from a dinosaur skeleton exhibited in the museum, a young girl with a photographic memory tries to discover who has been taking them and why.

The Man Who Wore All His Clothes by Allan Ahlberg
Ages: 7-10
Summary: Mrs. Gaskitt the taxi driver, Mr. Gaskitt the heavily-dressed man, and their twins, Gus and Gloria, foil a bank robbery.

Art Fraud Detective by Anna Nilsen
Ages 7-10
Summary: A spot-the-difference game, mystery story, and art book in which readers try to tell which paintings are genuine and which are forgeries.

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Ages 9 – 12
Summary: When seemingly unrelated and strange events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal.

Girl’s Best Friend by Leslie Margolis
Ages: 9-12
Summary: In Brooklyn, New York, twelve-year-old dog-walker Maggie, aided by her twin brother Finn and best friend Lucy, investigates someone she believes is stealing pets.

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd  
Ages 10-14
Summary: When Ted and Kat's cousin Salim disappears from the London Eye ferris wheel, the two siblings must work together -- Ted with his brain that is "wired differently" and impatient Kat -- to try to solve the mystery of what happened.

The Quick Fix by Jack Ferraiolo
Ages 10-14
Summary: When the star of the basketball team is blackmailed, it is up to Matt Stevens, the lone voice for justice in corrupt Franklin Middle School, to uncover who is behind the scheme--Vinny "Mr. Biggs" Biggio, his deputy Kevin Carling, or perhaps the scheming Thompson twins.

- Briana C.


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