We recently conducted a poll of 101 middle schoolers to see what their favorite mystery titles were. Here are their top five picks:
Murder at Midnight by Avi
Pages: 256 Lexile: 590
Avi takes readers back in time to Renaissance Italy where Mangus the Magician has become a scapegoat for a traitor who wants to overthrow King Claudio. Fabrizio, the magician’s young servant, is determined to find the real culprit and clear his master’s name. Will medieval superstition win over rational thought? Twists and turns abound.
The Danger Box by Blue Balliett
Pages: 320 Lexile: 750
Twelve-year-old Zoomy Chamberlain, list-maker extraordinaire, suffers from pathological myopia and sees the world much differently than most. Zoomy’s alcoholic father shows up one day after a long absence and leaves a mysterious box (from a stolen truck) containing a scientific journal full of…you guessed it…lists! The young boy’s orderly life is turned upside down as he attempts to solve the journal’s puzzle.
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pages: 376 Lexile: 800
Milo and his parents live in a rambling old inn that formerly served as a smuggler’s hideout. One snowy night, five unexpected guests arrive, one after another. When objects begin to go missing, Milo teams up with Meddy, the cooks daughter, and the two take on role-playing personas to solve the mystery. Greenglass House has an incredible twist ending that only one of our readers puzzled out beforehand.
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Publisher: Square Fish/MacMillan
Pages: 384 Lexile: 920
It’s the summer of 1962 and Jack Gantos is grounded (as usual). His mother sends him to help ancient, arthritic Miss Volker type (on a typewriter!) obituaries of the small town’s newly deceased. When a series of deaths occur, Jack and his friend Bunny (the undertaker’s daughter) set out to investigate. Part memoir, part fiction, Dead End in Norvelt is laugh-out-loud funny, populated with quirky characters, and extremely popular with our reluctant readers. Winner of the 2012 Newbery Award and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Visit MacMillan for a chapter excerpt, audiobook excerpt, and teacher’s guide.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Pages: 304 Lexile: 720
Kyle Keeley, along with eleven other twelve-year-olds, are locked in a newly built library after an overnight stay. They compete to figure out book-related clues, codes, rebuses, and puzzles in order to “escape” and win the grand prize. The library itself is a techno-wonder with its holographic librarians and hover ladders that float you to the books you want.
In the words of one reluctant reader, “You just gonna love Lemonlo and his lieberry!” We agree wholeheartedly.
Compiled and reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis