The best middle-grade mysteries to me are those that have more than just a mystery as the plot. But, I have to admit, many great middle-grade mystery books are also just about the mystery (at least it’s the central plot) — and that’s fine too. For today’s list, I’ve included the best middle-grade mysteries as well as a sprinkling of early readers (chapter books) aimed at younger readers. I’ve marked which ones are part of a series, so if your kids enjoy series, you can get your hands on those picks.
Mystery on Magnolia Circle begins with what seems to be the worst summer ever. Ivy’s summer plans are disrupted when she breaks her leg at the start of summer. Her best friend Teddy is having it any easier as his dog is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has to be put down. But while Ivy is standing at her window, trying to make the best of the summer, she witnesses a possible burglary and that both kids off on a summer of solving a mystery — or is it?
Linked is Gordon Korman’s latest middle grade offering, set in Chokecherry, Colorado, a small town where everyone knows everyone and all the kids have been together since kindergarten. There are a few new kids — one of whom is Jewish — whose parents work as paleontologists digging for dinosaur fossils in town. The small town is thrown into an uproar when a swastika is painted in the school building — and multiple swastikas continue to pop up throughout the school.
Grant Falloon is a super fast track runner, so it’s a no brainer when he gets the chance to sign up for the million dollar race organized by Babblemoney. The mega-rich sneaker company wants to give back a million dollars to the winning kids from their international contest. Unfortunately Grant runs into a couple of snags.
Chirp was my first Kate Messner novel. Mia and her parents have moved to Vermont the summer after seventh grade to help look after her grandma. Before the move, Mia broke her arm falling off a balance beam in gymnastics. Since then, she’s packed up everything related to the sport she once loved, deciding to call it quits.