9 Mysteries Fourth and Fifth Graders Recommend to Their Friends

A good mystery is the ultimate book to enjoy on a lazy summer day or a cozy winter day. Intrigue, suspense, and puzzles that must be solved can engross both voracious and reluctant readers. If your young reader devoured books like Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and The Hardy Boys, here are nine fantastic mysteries that will keep them reading all year long.

These books all come highly recommended by fourth and fifth graders on Bookopolis.com, a social network where kid readers connect with friends to share reviews and swap book recommendations.

no no 9781536219104 The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel by Sheela Chari

When kids start disappearing from their school, Mars Patel and his loyal group of friends feel compelled to investigate. Based on a Peabody award-winning podcast, this genre-bending book mixes sci-fi, mystery, and adventure while also posing deep philosophical questions about the benefits and risks of technology. Tony, 11, puts it simply by calling it the “best book ever.” If your reader is like Tony, they’ll be glad to know this is the first of a three-book series.

9781984830296 The Misfits #1: A Royal Conundrum by Lisa Yee and Dan Santat

This is a fun mystery filled with quirky kids who work as undercover spies to help stop a jewelry heist that could lead to the destruction of their beloved boarding school. It’s a great pick for kids who enjoy the City Spies or Spy School series. It’s a prose novel with wonderful illustrations from the award-winning Dan Santat woven throughout the book. Claire, 9, sums it up well, “You will love this book if you like action, mystery, and cats!”

9780593533253 The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels by Beth Lincoln, illustrated by Claire Powell

In the Swift family, when a child is born, they are named by randomly opening the dictionary and selecting a word. But does your name predetermine your fate or just offer one possible path? This is one of the many intriguing questions explored by Shenanigan Swift and her siblings Felicity and Phenomena as they find themselves in the center of a murder mystery during their family reunion. It’s like Knives Out for middle grade readers with charming characters and tons of puns, wordplay, and high Scrabble value vocab words. Elise, 10, raves, “Five stars! I would recommend this book to those who like mystery, treasure, and peculiar families.”

9780763669270 Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

If your kid claims not to like reading, hand them this book. And if your kid loves to read, hand them this book. Timmy is a total goofball and the surprisingly successful CEO of a neighborhood detective agency along with Tota, his partner/pet/best friend/polar bear. Hilarity always ensues as they work to solve local crimes. It’s a highly illustrated novel that gives off Diary of a Wimpy Kid vibes as it blends humor, adventure, and some truly heartwarming moments. Alexander, 10, gives it the highest praise, “When I finished this book, I wanted to read the second, third, and fourth ones!” And, luckily for readers like him, there are 7 books in the series to date.

9780375873454 One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Set in 1871 Wisconsin, it centers around Georgie, an outspoken young woman who sneaks away across the western frontier to unravel the mystery of her missing sister, Agatha, who is presumed to be dead. I often recommend this book to advanced readers due to the complex plot and deep insights into life on the frontier, the role of women, and the dramatic natural world that Georgie encounters on her journey. Logan, 11, shares “This book is emotional and a page-turner that everyone can relate to or get lost in.”

9780307931474 Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein is “an awesome book,” says Kate, 10. “I had my nose in it all the time. Jam-packed with great puzzles.” Twelve kids are invited to spend a night in the town’s new library created by legendary gamemaker, Luigi Lemoncello. Adventure and fun are nonstop as the kids work to solve the clues and escape from the library. Perfect for kids who liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Night at the Museum.

9780142401200 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is a “thrilling mystery … like a puzzle with LOTS of pieces,” according to Jayden, 11. This Newbery Award-winning murder tale is full of quirky characters who come together to play the ultimate game: Whoever solves the mystery of Samuel Westing’s death will receive one million dollars. A beloved classic for mature fourth and fifth grade readers.

9780385751841 The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

When Salim disappears out of thin air, his cousins, Ted and Kate, follow clues around London and race against the clock to find him before it’s too late. Mathilda, 10, highly recommends this book and teases, “Can they make it? Read this great novel to find out!” Another classic mystery that will hook young readers.

9780679892649 Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen

Lucia, 9, says, “This is an amazing book, of adventure and mystery! I know you won’t regret reading this book.” Sammy is a spunky, loveable teen detective who often finds herself in the middle of crazy situations. These fast-paced stories are filled with clues that keep you guessing at the truth until the very end.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2024.

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