Monday, January 18, 2016

Mysteries for Young Readers by Shari Randall

It is Agatha nominations time. Many people are not familiar with the children’s mysteries category, and have a hard time nominating stories. Below are four fun mysteries that were favorites of mine and of the young readers who asked for them at the Information Desk of my library. One of these favorites for young people may turn out to be your latest favorite read, and, perhaps, a contender for the Agatha Award.

Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

In an interview, Stevens said that when she was growing up she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie. With this series opener, she shows that she is well on her way to becoming the latter. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are students at the Deepdean School for Girls. Daisy has dreams of being a great detective, but life at Deepdean is dull and mystery-free, until Hazel stumbles upon the body of their science teacher, Miss Bell, in the gymnasium. Hazel runs to tell the staff, but when she returns the body is gone. Where is the body? Where is Miss Bell? Why do the staff seem unconcerned about the missing teacher? An appealing blend of boarding school romp and Golden Age whodunit, Murder is Bad Manners is a cozy delight.

The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud

The latest entry in Stroud’s Lockwood and Company series turns up the heat on the suspense, mystery and horror of the earlier books. London struggles with an epidemic – an epidemic of ghosts. Ghosts that can kill with a touch. Why the dead won’t remain at rest is the main mystery in this series. Since only children can see ghosts, young people working for ghost hunting companies take to the streets every night to eradicate the menace. Adding to the dangers of the undead, some decidedly living assassins are targeting ghost hunters. Who are they? Why do they want to stop the ghost hunters? Dashing teenaged Anthony Lockwood teams with supernaturally gifted Lucy Carlyle to solve the mystery in this spine-tingling page turner.

Woof by Spencer Quinn

I won’t lie. Woof was not only one of my favorite children’s reads in 2015, it was one of my favorite reads, period. The same formula that makes the Chet and Bernie books such a delight works perfectly in this new series. Instead of Chet and Bernie we have Bowser and Birdie. Bowser is a rescue mutt, and Birdie is the spunky girl who rescues him. When the prize stuffed marlin at her aunt’s bait shop is stolen, Birdie decides to get to the bottom of the mystery. Bowser hinders as much as he helps, but when some bad guys don’t like Birdie’s snooping, Bowser comes through. A fun romp.

The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage

Spunky Mo LoBeau and her friend Dale Earnhart Johnson -- the self proclaimed Desperado Detectives -- worked together in earlier books to solve mysteries in their little hometown of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. In this outing, Dale’s father Macon breaks out of jail, and Mo and Dale try to find him. Complicating the task is Dale’s belief that his father is innocent, while Mo is not so sure. The first book in the series, Three Times Lucky, won the Newbery Award for children’s literature. The Odds of Getting Even is a clever, funny, warmhearted read.

Have you read any good children’s mysteries lately?


  1. I really enjoyed Woof and intend to put it on my ballot. I wish I had the time to read these three other books before the nomination ballots are due. Alas ...

  2. Thanks for the recommendations. Now if I only had time to read them before the nominations are due! (Echoing Barb, I see.)

    ~ Jim

  3. Thank you for the recommendations, Shari. I loved reading chapter books to my third grade,
    even ones that were for older readers. Now I don't read children's books anymore, but I'm tempted to read these.

  4. Thanks, Shari. I sometimes lose sight of the wonderful books that are aimed at young readers, which is a mistake, since some of them are true gems.

  5. I'm a Spencer Quinn fan, so when I saw I was two books down in his series, I immediately got them. What I didn't realize was that Woof wasn't part of his Chet and Bernie series. I read it anyway and loved it. Of course, it didn't occur to me until half-way through that I was reading YA. It didn't matter either. I recommend the book, too, and hope you all vote for it. The book's heroine and hero couldn't be a better sleuth team.

  6. Thanks for the list. I think some of the very best writing can be found in books for children.

  7. So cool, thanks for posting this. Personally, Woof had me from the cover :)

  8. Thanks for checking in everyone. It was a pleasure to suggest these books - such great reads! And I am glad that Woof is making some of your Agatha nominations - it will be on mine!
    And yes, Kait, that cover is awesome!