Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Hunting for the Perfect Mystery
By Mary Ann Scheuer
There might be long nights or drizzly days, but winter strikes me as a perfect time to seek out a mystery. Intrigue and suspense can pull you deep into a story as you search for clues and try to solve the mystery before the detectives do.
“The Book Scavenger”
By Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (Christy Ottaviano / Macmillan; ages 9-12; $7.99; 354 pp.). This local mystery hooks readers right from the beginning with its San Francisco setting, hidden treasures, and clever ciphers. Using secret codes and clues from Edgar Allen Poe books, three kids try to solve the riddles and find the geocaches before whoever attacked game founder Garrison Griswold comes after them.
“The Case of the Stinky Socks”
By Lewis B. Montgomery, illustrated by Amy Wummer (Kane; ages 6-9; $6.95; 94 pp.). The Milo & Jazz Mysteries provide new readers with likeable characters, easy-to-solve mysteries, and clues to discover along the way. In this series opener, Milo is excited to get a kit from Dash Marlowe, Super Sleuth, but it takes the help of his new neighbor, Jazz, to figure out who’s taken the high school’s star pitcher’s lucky socks.
“Code Name Verity”
By Elizabeth Wein (Disney-Hyperion; ages 14 and up; $9.99; 368 pp.). In occupied France, Scottish prisoner of war Queenie divulges confidential information to be spared execution and torture by her Nazi captors. As she describes the British War Effort and her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew her to France, the reader begins to wonder whether her ramblings might be deliberate. The harrowing climax and final twists left me racing to the end and turning right back to the beginning to see what clues were laid out all along.
“The Harlem Charade”
By Natasha Tarpley (Scholastic; ages 9-12; $16.99; 320 pp.). When schoolmates Jin and Alex learn that the grandfather of their new acquaintance, Elvin, has been attacked, the three 12-year-olds set out to discover the culprit. As they dig deeper into the mystery, they discover that a real estate mogul is threatening to convert much of the community and use a local artist’s work to his advantage. An intriguing mystery.
“Hilde Cracks the Case: Hero Dog!”
By Hilde Lysiak and Matthew Lysiak, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (Scholastic; ages 6-9; $4.24; 96 pp.). Hilde Cracks the Case is a new chapter book series for beginning readers written by nine-year-old crime reporter Hilde Lysiak along with her dad. Fast-paced action and snappy writing keep readers’ attention, and pages from Hilde’s notebook help young sleuths follow the clues.
“The High-Rise Private Eyes #1: The Case of the Missing Monkey”
By Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Greenwillow / HarperCollins; ages 4-7; $3.99; 48 pp.). A glass monkey is missing from The Grill Next Door, and the restaurant is full of suspects. This is just the sort of case for high-rise private eyes Bunny Brown and Jack Jones. Kids will laugh as these two friends bicker, banter, and solve the mystery in this fun series for beginning readers.
By Blue Balliett (Scholastic; ages 9-12; $6.97; 288 pp.). One bitterly cold winter afternoon, Early Pearl’s father disappears without a trace. As eleven-year-old Early, her brother, and mother reel from the news, their apartment is ransacked. With nowhere else to go, they seek refuge in one of Chicago’s homeless shelters. Certain that her father is still alive, Early is steadfast holding onto her father’s dream that they are a family that will survive.
“Ink and Ashes”
By Valynne E. Maetani (Tu Books / Lee & Low; ages 12-18; $19.95; 386 pp.). In this tense thriller, teenage Claire Takata discovers that her parents have been hiding the fact that her father—who died when she was 10—was a member of the yakuza, otherwise known as the Japanese mafia. Using wits and courage, Claire begins to unravel the mystery, deciphering clues and confronting her mother and stepfather. Romantic tension with her best friend Forrest adds an enticing undercurrent to the intrigue. A fantastic debut.
“King & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code”
By Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers (Peachtree; ages 6-9; $6.95; 48 pp.). When a mysteriously written letter arrives at Kayla’s house, she has trouble figuring out its secret code. King, her lovable dog, helps her follow the trail and solve the mystery in this delightful beginning reader.
“The San Francisco Splash”
By David A. Kelley, illustrated by Mark Meyers (Random House; ages 6-10; $4.99; 109 pp.). The Ballpark Mysteries series is great for young baseball fans, and this local story does not disappoint. Cousins Kate and Mike help solve the mystery of how a player loses his World Series ring when he falls into McCovey Cove.
By Marie Lu (G.P. Putnam’s Sons; ages 12-16; $18.99; 368 pp.). Teens looking for fantasy books with a high dose of mystery, adventure, and adrenaline will love the way Marie Lu combines fast-action video game battles with intriguing underworld mysteries. “Absolutely immersive. Cannot put this down,” is what I wrote to myself as I zoomed through this series opener.
“Wig in the Window”
By Kristen Kittscher (HarperCollins; ages 8-12; $6.99; 368 pp.). Seventh graders Sophie Young and Grace Yang dream of joining the FBI one day, so night missions and stakeouts come with the territory. One night, they think they see their school counselor hacking a bloody body to pieces, and soon they’re caught up in a tangled web trying to untangle the mystery.
Mary Ann Scheuer is a teacher librarian. Find more books Mary Ann recommends sharing with children at her blog, Great Kid Books, http://greatkidbooks.blogspot.com.