From Red Herrings to Whodunits: 17 Super Middle Grade Mysteries | Summer Reading 2021

17 titles to keep tween mystery fans turning pages well into the summer.

17 Super MG Mysteries covers


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These novels will have tweens engrossed in a bevy of welcome mystery tropes, from (potentially) fake town curses, haunted theater productions, theft on a cross-country train voyage, and the inexplicable reappearance of a local missing boy.

The Monster Hypothesis by Romily Bernard. Disney-Hyperion. ISBN 9781368028554.

Everyone in town is worried about the Bohring Curse, said to recur every hundred years. New girl Kick Winter knows there’s a scientific explanation behind this so-called curse; but she’s hard-pressed to prove it once kids start disappearing and mysterious glowing creatures start growling in the swamps.

The Grave Digger by Rebecca Bischoff. Amberjack. ISBN 9781948705523.

In 1867 Ohio, 12-year-old Cap Cooper helps his dad with a very odd job—grave robbing—and a body comes back to life. Soon, Cap begins to uncover a multitude of secrets in his community, all possibly wrapped around the opening of the new local medical school.

A Dog-Friendly Town by Josephine Cameron. Farrar. ISBN 9780374306441.

Cameron takes readers into the world of celebrity dogs, their owners, Hollywood drama, and a group of amateur sleuths on summer vacation. When one of the dogs’ diamond collars goes missing, three siblings find themselves in the middle of a whodunit.

Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin. Little, Brown. ISBN 9781368048958.

As sixth-grader Maddy navigates a relationship with Stan, her mother’s new husband, and the changing dynamics of a friendship, she is also confronted with a mystery. Walking in the neighborhood graveyard one day, Maddy meets Eric, a boy who reminds her of Billy Holcomb who has been missing for six months.

Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost by Martha Freeman. S. & S./Paula Wiseman. ISBN 9781534462908.

When Miss Magnus breaks her leg prior to the production of Hamlet, Noah and the Plattsfield Winklebottom Memorial Sixth-Grade Players are left without a director. Things look grim until an old-fashioned, older man named Mike offers aid—but something is off about him, like his strange speech and ability to vanish at will. This wacky mystery has engaging characters and a fun hybrid prose-screenplay format that will appeal to theater kids.

The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin. Scholastic/Chicken House. ISBN 9781338567397.

Orphaned after their mother succumbs to cancer, two sisters move to New Zealand to live with their researcher aunt in an ecovillage, and uncover a horrible secret in the process. This thrilling and original science-fiction mystery will surprise readers at every turn.

Forever Glimmer Creek by Stacy Hackney. S. & S. ISBN 9781534444843.

Part realistic fiction and part mystery, this character-driven book centers seventh-grader Rosie in the town of Glimmer Creek. Every year, one lucky Glimmer Creek resident receives a potentially life-changing Miracle. Rosie is an aspiring filmmaker determined to make a documentary to prove the Miracles are real. But her determination may lose her some friends in the process. 

The Case of the Burgled Bundle by Michael Hutchinson. Second Story. ISBN 9781772601664.

This #OwnVoices mystery series features First Nations sleuth group the Mighty Muskrats. At the National Assembly of Cree Peoples. The Treaty 12 bundle, a sacred object passed down through generations and containing the tribe’s history, goes missing one night, disappearing from a guarded tent. Will the Muskrats find the bundle in time for the ceremony? Though the pace is slow at times, this caper has high stakes and a satisfying twist ending.

Kidnap on the California Comet by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman (text) & illus. by Elisa Paganelli. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 9781250222930.

Amateur detective Hal Beck travels across America with his uncle Nat on the California Comet in order to cover apress conference held by entrepreneur August Reza. Amidst a cast of quirky happenings and characters, Reza's daughter is kidnapped, kicking the plot into high gear.  This smartly woven story is crafted in the vein of an Agatha Christie novel, with clues laid out for readers so they may solve the caper before detective Hal figures it out.

Chirp by Kate Messner. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781547602810.

Messner crafts a timely “#MeToo” novel wrapped in intriguing parallel mysteries. Who is sabotaging her Gram’s fledgling cricket farm? And what turned talented gymnast Mia away from the sport she loved after a fall and surgery? There’s a story she hasn’t told anyone.

The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story by Kate Milford. Clarion. ISBN 9781328466891.

Readers will delight in this old-fashioned mystery that takes place in the same universe as Greenglass House. The Republic of Gammerbund is a sanctuary for even the most legendary thieves to hide and lead (mostly) normal lives. When a kidnapping threatens Gammerbund, 12-year-old Marzana’s parents are recruited to help, and the lure of adventure is too much for the shy aspiring spy.

The Madre de Aguas of Cuba by Adam Otheguy, Emma Gidwitz. Dutton. (The Unicorn Rescue Society: Bk. 5). ISBN 9780735231429.

This newest installment of “The Unicorn Rescue Society” series is a sensitive and informative story wrapped up in a magical mystery adventure. This time, the tenacious trio Uchenna, Elliot, and Professor Fauna travel to Cuba to find the Madre de Aguas, a sea serpent that protects the water supply of the island and surrounding area. 

book covers

The Mystery of the Masked Medalist by Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani, & Michelle Schusterman.  illus. by Yaoyao Ma Van As. Penguin/Razorbill. ISBN 9780593113738.

In this topical mystery about hacking and virtual reality, siblings Andy and Mika Kudo are thrilled to travel to Tokyo for the Olympics with their journalist parents. Their excitement is heightened by OlympiFan, an augmented reality game that encourages teamwork and fair play. But not all of the players are interested in playing fair. Who is trying to cheat at the game? Is the same person sending Mika creepy messages? And who is the Masked Medalist who created the game in the first place?

Super Puzzletastic ­Mysteries: Short Stories for Young Sleuths from Mystery Writers of America by Various. HarperCollins/Harper. Jun. 2020. ISBN 9780062884206.

This collection of 20 short mysteries offers a variety of puzzling capers by a range of authors. From stolen fundraising money to kidnapped squirrel monkeys to magical misdirection, each narrative presents a unique opportunity to practice deduction and problem-solving skills before the tale’s conclusion (solutions are offered in the back of the book). 

The Newspaper Club by Beth Vrabel. illus. by Paula Franco. Running Pr. ISBN 9780762496853.

Nellie Murrow spent the first 11 years of her life surrounded by the bustling world of journalism and newsrooms. But when her parents' newspaper folds, Nellie finds herself in the last place she ever imagined—the tiny town of Bear Creek, where nothing interesting ever happens. Then reports of vandalism and mischief emerge, and it is up to the kids in town to cover the strange story.

Owl’s Outstanding Donuts by Robin Yardi. Carolrhoda. ISBN 9781541533059.

Since her mother died, Mattie has been living in a trailer next to her Aunt Molly’s donut shop in Big Sur. One night, Mattie is awakened by an owl tapping on her window and looks out just in time to see a white truck dumping toxic chemicals in the ditch across from the donut shop. With help from her friends, Mattie is determined to get to the bottom of who dumped the gloop, especially since official suspicion soon falls on Aunt Molly.

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