Mystery books are always hot in my classroom. The danger, intrigue, and suspense are enticing to tweens and there is an abundance of titles out there that keep tweens turning the pages.
- The 39 Clues (The Maze of Bones, Book 1) by Rick Riordan and the second book, 39 Clues: One False Note by Gordan Korman are the most popular books in my classroom right now. Eventually a 10 book series, The 39 Clues, is the story of two orphans who are swept into a worldwide hunt for the story of their family. When their Aunt Grace dies, they discover that her will is not the typical will. Instead, she gives her descendants a choice- take 1 million dollars right now or take a clue. Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world’s most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family power is lost. 39 clues hidden around the world can reveal the family’s secret, but no one has been able to assemble them. Whoever does find the 39 clues will win much more than 1 million dollars.
- The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney- I still remember reading this when I was in middle school. Man, did I love it. A decade later, I wasn’t sure if my students would connect with it. It turns out I didn’t need to worry at all- this is another series that never stays on my library shelves. For those who haven’t read the book, it’s absolutely fascinating. When Janie finds her own picture on the back of milk carton, labeled as a missing child, her entire world is turned upside down. Who are her parents? Are they really her parents? Is her whole life a lie? This is a page-turner that tweens don’t want to put down, and I haven’t had a single reader give up on the series after one book- they all read the entire series!
- The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright- This is a mystery that I see many of my students reading and rereading. Many of them read it as a class novel in 5th grade and choose to reread it again at some point during 6th grade because they enjoyed it so much. A quick summary (courtesy of Amazon)- The attic is always a great place to look for nuggets of one’s family history, but when 12-year-old Amy explores her great-grandparents’ attic, she uncovers clues to a chilling family secret. As Amy and her Aunt Claire sift through clothes, trinkets and other memorabilia, Amy comes across Aunt Claire’s long-forgotten dollhouse, a finely crafted replica of the house they are in. Aunt Claire seems unusually distressed about the dollhouse and Amy is determined to find out why. The real fun begins when Amy learns that the dolls in the dollhouse move of their own willAand that they seem to be trying to tell her something. After a little sleuthing at the local library, Amy learns that her great-grandparents were murdered years ago and that Aunt Claire’s fiance (who died in a car accident that same night) was the prime suspect in the unsolved case. Chilling!
- Silent to the Bone by E.L. Konigsburg- What happened on November 25, 2:43 P.M. to cause Branwell Zamborska to become stop speaking? All anyone knows is that he called 911 because his baby sister stopped breathing, and when he was unable to speak to the operator, Vivian, the English nanny, said that Branwell had dropped the baby and shaken her. Branwell’s best friend, Connor, begins visiting him at the juvenile hall, where he has been sent while Nikki remains in a coma at the hospital. Working out a code they both can use, Connor begins the long process of trying to communicate with his friend to find out what really happened. Connor knows that his best friend didn’t hurt the baby, but how can he prove it to everyone else if Branwell won’t speak. This is a realistic mystery that kids won’t want to put down.
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