All of us are searching for the book that will grab and keep our attention, something we just can’t put down. Mysteries often fill this need. The same is true for children and middle school readers. Who delight in finding a book that can put them in another world, living vicariously through the characters.
For example, a staff favorite is Maureen Sherry’s Walls Within Walls in which the children in a New York apartment discover their new home is filled with hidden panels and a mysterious book, putting them on an adventure through the city. Solving this puzzle could lead to a great fortune.
Several publishers have series that will keep a youngster reading one book after another. Kids love series (always starting with the first one, of course) so that adventure can be relived in story after story.
For younger readers, the most popular chapter books include Geronimo Stilton, A to Z Mysteries (b for The Bald Bandit), and the Ballpark Mysteries (i.e. The Astro Outlaw) among many others. Those who enjoyed the Fancy Nancy children’s books will find her now with her own detective series, Nancy Clancy.
Middle readers can enjoy Blue Balliett’s detective series, including The Calder Game and Chasing Vermeer. Illustrations help carry the reader from chapter to chapter. A contemporary Hardy Boys series, Brixton Brothers, puts the kids in some exciting adventures. A modern Nancy Drew might be the Sleuth or Dare series, with Norah, Darcy and their business, Partners in Crime. Another favorite could be Agatha, Girl of Mystery, with her first adventure, The Curse of Pharaoh.
A step up from there would be Barrie Sumy’s I So Don’t Do Famous series. Prequels include I So Don’t Do Spooky and I So Don’t Do Makeup featuring a middle school girl who solves mysteries with the help of her mother, who happens to be a ghost. There’s also Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator, also assisted by the paranormal.
Not with spirits, but his own cunning, is Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer written by John Grisham (The Last Juror, The Pelican Brief, etc.). Teddy’s parents are both private investigators, but their son’s talents are much needed to solve the firm’s challenges.
The whole family might enjoy an evening reading one or more of these mystery books, providing a valuable diversion from TV or movies.
Jim is a bookseller at Warwick's