Books and places featuring them inevitably have mysteries about them!
Books may be in a library or a bookstore, even in an attic. They can also be at book fairs or festivals, in a literary landmark, or in some other unusual setting where you wouldn’t expect to find them.
Here are some middle-grade readers’ stories that reveal some bookish mysteries, bookplace mysteries, and young protagonists getting caught up in them; both fictional and real.
Eleven year-old Celia lives with her Great Aunt Agatha. Although she must act in a proper way when out and about with her aunt, Celia has her room — her sanctuary — where she can be on her own. One day her aunt says that the attic needs sorting. It’s full of boxes, and books. That’s a chore for Celia. Then her aunt adds: “Oh, and it would be nice if you could find a book to read.” And so it is that Celia’s adventure starts….
Things have changed as a new school year begins, and young Neeghan (with a native Alaskan name) wonders how she’ll fit in. Then she finds a book that seems to have the answer she needs.
BOOK SCAVENGER by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman / Emily, with new friend James, goes on a scavenger book hunt that an author has set up around the United States; particularly one in her new hometown of San Francisco. They search, guided by clues in puzzles. Then they discover an odd type of book they believe has something to do with the author, but something is missing. They find out, also, that the author has been injured and is in a coma, so he can’t reveal any more clues. And then there’s a feeling each has had ever since their discovery. Are Emily and James being followed?
Fiona and her family move to where her older sister is working on her ice skating career, but Fiiona feels alone. She finds the town library (a renovated mansion donated by its owner). In this place of respite or solace, Fiona discovers a book that captures her attention. However, the book soon disappears and Fiona is told that there isn’t such a book! Fiona sets about aiming to unravel the mystery of this elusive tome.
THE LIBRARY OF EVER by Zeno Alexander / Lenora spends most of her time in her town’s library. One day while there, she discovers a secret doorway. Curious, of course, she enters. Suddenly she finds herself caught up as a library assistant helping library visitors with unusual searches. Meanwhile there’s something sinister in the air and she must uncover secrets and answers among the library shelves.
REBEL IN THE LIBRARY OF EVER by Zeno Alexander / Lenora came back to the secret library area she had discovered. Now, however, things are dark all around. She eventually finds some others, called members of a resistance group, who are striving to bring light back to the library. She, too must now face, stand up to, dark forces that are keeping the library in darkness.
ESCAPE FROM MR LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY by Chris Grabenstein / When a popular game maker becomes involved in the building of a new library in Kyle’s hometown, Kyle gets caught up in a contest, and wins one of the prizes offering a night of playing games in the library. He and the other winners have a fun night, but then when morning comes, they try to leave, but the doors are still locked. They discover that they must play another game, following clues and puzzles, to find the exit.
NIGHTMARE AT THE BOOK FAIR by Dan Gutman / Just as he arrives to try out for soccer, Trip is asked by his school’s PTA president to help her with something. Not really wanting to, but doing it anyway. Suddenly a pile of books falls on him. He gets knocked out. When he wakes up, he’s in a strange place. Now he just wants to get home, but strange obstacles are blocking his way!
MARY ANNE AND THE HAUNTED BOOKSTORE by Ann M. Martin (Babysitters Club Mysteries #34) / For a school assignment, Mary Anne gets a book from a local bookstore, where she is introduced to the works of Edgar Allen Poe, who may have visited this town where she lives. Caught up in Poe’s stories and poems, and must figure out a presentation for her school project. Eventually, Mary Anne is able to get a job at the bookstore, but then, she wonders, what’s that tap tap tapping? Are the spirits of the raven and Edgar Allen Poe lurking in the shadows?
PAGES & CO.: BOOK WANDERERS by Anna James, with illustrator Paola Escobar / Tilly enjoys visiting her grandparents bookshop, wandering around the bookshelves; then one day she finds unusual wanderers wandering about, and she decides to follow them… into books…
THAT BOOK WOMAN by Heather Henson / Cal wonders why a strange woman always comes to where he and his family live on a mountainside in the Appalachian Mountains. She comes in any weather, rain or snow, and on horseback! All she seems to do is just to leave books for his sister to read. “There are better things to do,” Cal muses; or so he thinks.
THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ by Antonio Iturbe, translated by Lilit Thwaites, retold from a true story / Thirteen year old Jewish girl, Dita Kraus, is imprisoned in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in NAZI-occupied Poland during WW II, only because she is Jewish. Then she’s suddenly given a job by the camp’s Jewish leader. She is asked to be in charge of books for other children at the camp. The books come to her whenever prisoners secretly smuggle them into to the prison area when they are given the task of emptying suitcases taken away from new prisoners. / Dita’s future husband (a teacher at the camp) was called ‘a living book’; telling stories from memories of great works read before imprisonment.
LOST IN THE LIBRARY by Josh Funk / Illustrated by Stevie Lewis / Imagine. The library lion statues (named Patience and Fortitude), who guard the front entrance of the New York Public Library in Manhattan, New York City, are alive one night. A story in clever rhyming verse tells of Fortitude waking up and discovering that Patience is missing. He ventures into, and wanders about, the wondrous big library to search for his companion.
“The best kid-lit homes are extensions of their occupants’ personalities,” as said at nerdybookclub.wordpress.com, with a reference to the Weesley family home in the Harry Potter stories. Here are samples of how ‘kid-lit homes’ or ‘kid-lit’ author homes or other places of importance to children’s authors, could be settings for fictional mysteries.
Ever wonder about the houses and other dwelling places in classic stories, including Robinson Crusoe, David Copperfield, Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, and Charlotte’s Web? Here you can discover something about them.
Have you ever wondered about the house where young blind and deaf Helen Keller learned w-a-t-e-r and other words in sign language with her hands? Have you wondered what life was like in the pioneer houses where young Laura Ingalls Wilder lived? Have you thought about the house where iconic American poet Emily Dickinson spent her life, or the places where Mark Twain grew up or wrote some of his novels, or where Robert Frost wrote his poems? Have you mused about the house where Longfellow penned “The Children’s Hour”? Here you can get glimpses of them, and more.