Some people get excited for summer on the beach or at the lake. They look forward to that festive backyard barbecue or wild all day pool party. Or maybe it’s just having some unstructured time where fun is the only destination. For me, summer is made for reading mysteries. I’ll take it all –amateur sleuths, cops, detectives, police procedurals, legal thrillers, suspense, a fun cozy, private eyes, historical, whatever. Serve it up. I’m ready.
And do you know where you can find some of the best twisty mystery being written today? If you guessed middle grade, you win! Because I write in this genre, I’ve had the best excuse to dive deep and read a lot. Three of my favorites are series focused on solving clues, ciphers and puzzles. I’m betting these will keep your middle grade readers happy straight through summer.
James Ponti’s T.O.A.S.T series follows Florian, the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial, and his best friend Margaret. Together, they use TOAST – Theory of All Small Things – to solve mysteries both small (where to sit on the first day of school) and big (solving crimes that stump the FBI).
Clever sleuthing, authentic friendship, humor and lots of thrills, these books are sure to please. Look for the third in the series coming in September.
Publishers Weekly describes Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s Book Scavenger series as ‘full of heart and replete with challenging ciphers for readers to decode, [this] debut is a literary cousin to classic puzzlers like The Westing Game.’ Emily and her best friend James are fans of the game Book Scavenger, an online sensation created by Emily’s literary idol Garrison Griswold, where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are reveled through puzzles.
I love how the author uses San Francisco as a setting and the sweet friendship between Emily and James. As they race against the clock to solve a series of clues, your middle grade reader will be on the edge of her seat. This three part series (so far) makes for great summer reading.
Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series is pure kooky Willy Wonka-like fun. When Kyle learns that the world’s most famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed the town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on opening night, he’s determined to be there. But the tricky part isn’t getting into the library—it’s getting out. Because when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route.
Clever puzzles, a race against time and lots of humor, this three part series will keep your middle grade reader busy all summer.