Mystery Picture Books

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Here’s a list of a few picture books that are good to read with younger children who like mysteries.

The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg

After losing a one of her red mittens in the snow, a little girl retraces her steps, looking for the mitten and imagining what might have happened to it while it was lost.  This is a very simple “mystery” that allows children to imagine possible scenarios based on limited clues.

Where’s the Big Bad Wolf by Eileen Christelow

All kinds of things are being huffed and puffed and blown down, but the Big Bad Wolf is nowhere in sight.  At the scene of every crime, the only creature nearby is a strange-looking, unfamiliar sheep named Esmerelda.  Kids are sure to enjoy this funny twist on the Three Little Pigs story, and they will take delight in being able to solve the mystery before the detective.

Detective LaRue by Mark Teague

When LaRue the dog is left at home while his owner goes on vacation, he finds himself framed for the crime of cat-napping.  Although LaRue has no idea what really happened to the two missing cats, he wonders if it might have something to do with a series of cat burglaries that began around the time of the cats’ disappearance.  In a series of letters to Mrs. LaRue, the dog describes how he escaped from jail and tried to find the missing cats in order to clear his name.  This mystery is more substantial in length and complexity than Where’s the Big Bad Wolf and The Missing Mitten Mystery and it will probably most appeal to children in grades K-2.

Nate the Great by Marjorie Sharmat

Nate the Great is a detective.  Give him a clue and a couple of pancakes and he’ll solve any mystery you throw at him.  When Annie from down the street calls about a missing picture, Nate the Great is on the case.  By gathering clues and interviewing suspects, he quickly begins to figure out what really happened.  The Nate the Great series is designed for beginning readers.  Sharmat utilizes the short, simple sentences and lack of contractions of early reader books to mimic the style of film noir narration and dialogue.  For this reason, Nate the Great works as both a fun and engaging beginning reader book and as an enjoyable read-aloud book for pre-readers.

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