Middle grade mysteries are a great way to inspire your young reader to fall in love with books. The whodunit adventures in these seven books make it nearly impossible to put them down. You may even discover that these reads will have you staying up late to solve the mystery.
1. Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Turnage’s debut kid’s novel is a hilarious page-turner. This award-winning book introduces protagonist, Moses LoBeau, as she navigates life in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. Turnage effectively captures life in a small southern town with her eccentric characters and creative metaphors. Three Times Lucky shows us that every family looks different, friendship is vital, and kids are tough. This fast paced, character driven novel is sure to please even the pickiest of readers.
2. Searching for Silverheels by Jeannie Mobley
Searching for Silverheels is a historic fiction novel set in the mountains of Colorado at the start of World War I. Pearl, the main character, sets out to solve the mystery of the legendary Silverheels, a dancer who nursed miners through a smallpox epidemic but then disappeared. Pearl believes the legend is true and is determined to prove it. This novel offers a unique look into the women’s suffrage movement, yet the fun adventure offers a story children and adults will both love.
3. Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Book lovers will adore Book Scavenger. Bertman created a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory–type story except, instead of candy, the search is for books. Main character Emily, participates in a geocaching game where participants hide books then post clues for the online scavenger hunt. Her hunt leads her on a mysterious adventure when she finds a book that she believes is the key to why Garrison Griswold, the games creator, was attacked. To save the game and Griswold she must crack the code of the book.
4. Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs
Spy Camp is the second book in Gibbs’s Spy School series. Middle-schooler Ben Ripley is not your typical tween. He is a student at a spy school. Ben heads off to camp for the summer expecting fun, rest, and relaxation. However, he is surprised to discover that camp is only an extension of school, and his spy agency has been infiltrated by an enemy organization. Ben must figure out who is behind the chaos in order to save his team before it is too late.
5. Holes by Louis Sachar
This winner of the National Book Award (1998) and Newberry Medal (1999) is a modern classic. Stanley Yelnats is stuck digging holes at Camp Green Lake where boys are sent to build their character. Yet, Stanley soon discovers the real reason for all the hole digging is to help the warden find something very important. Using dark humor, Sachar not only offers readers a great mystery but also highlights the power of second chances.
6. Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Milford’s book is set in the gothic Greenglass House, an inn for smugglers, during a blizzard. Just when Milo, the protagonist, thinks he will settle in for a quiet holiday, strange guests start arriving at the inn. Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, decide to figure out which of these secretive guests are causing trouble. This award-winning novel is strange but will entertain readers that love a creepy mystery.
7. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The Westing Game was first published in 1978. This Newberry Medal winner (1979) is the inspiration for many modern day middle grade mystery books. The story centers around a game created by Sam Westing, an eccentric millionaire, that brings his sixteen heirs together in the Sunset Towers apartment building. The heirs are paired into eight teams that must compete for Westing’s inheritance by solving a puzzle. This is a must-read classic for any mystery lover.
What middle-grade mysteries have you and your kids gotten lost in?
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