The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Sleuths with Sass: Modern-Day Maidens of Mystery - April 2014

Selected and annotated by Katie Boucher, with additional annotations by Alice Mitchell


Beil, Michael D. The Red Blazer Girls. Knopf, 2009. 298p. Gr. 5-7.
Friends Sophie, Margo, and Rebecca attend St. Veronica’s Church in Manhattan. The church’s neighbor Elizabeth Harriman turns to the girls when she finds out that one of the clues left by her father to help her daughter to find a special gift lies within St. Veronica’s. The trio helps Elizabeth by solving word and math problems to crack the codes, but soon become aware that they are not the only ones on the trail.

Child, Lauren. Ruby Redfort: Look into My Eyes. Candlewick, 2012. 387p. Gr. 5-8.
Ruby turned down Harvard when she was seven, so it goes without saying that she is the brains of the family. An expert coder and diligent observer, Ruby stumbles into all kinds of hijinks, repeatedly proving herself to be more astute than most of the adults around her and definite detective material.

Fredericks, Mariah. The Girl in the Park. Schwartz & Wade, 2012. [224p.] Gr. 7-10.
When Wendy enters Alcott School, the popular girls snub her, but Wendy is the only person who has ever been kind to Rain, who has speech difficulties due to a cleft palate. They grow apart, however, when Wendy starts getting revenge on the popular girls by sleeping with their boyfriends. When Wendy is found dead in Central Park, the friendship drives Rain to find out exactly what happened.

Hale, Kathleen. No One Else Can Have You. HarperTeen/HarperCollins, 2014. 380p. Gr. 9-12.
When Kippy Bushman’s best friend Ruth is brutally murdered, her hometown of Friendship, Wisconsin becomes considerably less friendly. And as the investigation proves corrupt and more individuals seem suspect, the refreshingly odd and determined Kippy must take matters of justice into her own hands, don’tcha know?

Henderson, Lauren. Kiss in the Dark. Delacorte, 2010. 247p. Gr. 7-10.
Since Scarlett Wakefield is the heir to the Wakefield estate, people apparently take it very personally when she starts dating Jase, the mixed-race son of the gardener. School life at Wakefield Hall Collegiate is getting more difficult as well, as Scarlett’s old enemy, Plum Saybourne, has transferred there and is now picking on Scarlett’s friend, Taylor. When someone finds Jase’s father dead on the grounds, Scarlett and Taylor get to work looking for clues regarding his death.

Margolis, Leslie. Girl’s Best Friend. Bloomsbury, 2011. 261p. Gr. 4–7.
Maggie Sinclair’s parents don’t know about her successful dog-walking business—a business that clues her into a number of dognappings happening in the neighborhood. At the same time, other dog-related businesses start popping up. When a former friend’s dog is taken, Maggie hesitantly rises to action to take the case.

Smith, Alexander McCall. The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case; illus. by Iain McIntosh Anchor/Random House, 2012. 96p. Gr.3-5.
An adult character in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, here Precious Ramotswe is a grade-school girl determined to solve the mystery of who in her class is stealing everyone’s sweets, especially when children start harassing their sweet-loving classmate Poloko.  Precious uses this opportunity to decide whether she actually wants to pursue a life as a detective.

Spencer, Octavia The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit; illus. by Vivienne To. Simon, 2013. 214p. (Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective). Gr. 4-6.
Brooklyn was the perfect home for twelve-year-old Randi Rhodes, who moonlighted as detective Glenn Street, meting out justice to dogs and humans alike. When her dad decides to move the family to quiet mountain town Deer Creek, Randi is more than a little upset. She immediately perks up when, in her first week of living there, the town’s time capsule goes missing.

Suma, Nova Ren. 17 & Gone. Dutton, 2013. 353p. Gr. 8–12.
“17-year-old girls vanish all the time.” Seventeen-year-old Lauren Woodman feels a connection to Abby Sinclair, a girl who recently went missing. As other missing girls join Abby in haunting Lauren, urging her to discover what happened to them, Lauren’s behavior becomes more obsessive and erratic as she ignores everything else in her life. Are the girls really talking to her, or there something wrong with her?

Thompson, J. E. The Girl from Felony Bay. Walden Pond/HarperCollins, 2013. 375p. Gr. 5–7.
The last year hasn’t been easy on twelve-year-old Abbey Force, whose lawyer father fell into a coma after an accident and has subsequently been accused of stealing from a client, forcing Abbey to move in with an abusive uncle. She now spends time taking care of the horses on her former family property and becomes friends with Bee, the new owner’s daughter. While adventuring on the property, the girls discover that Abbey’s uncle might have had something to do with her dad’s accident and that something else shady is going on down at Felony Bay.

Turnage, Sheila. Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. Dawson/Viking, 2014. [368p.] Gr. 5-7.
This sequel to Turnage’s acclaimed Three Times Lucky finds young sleuths Mo and Dale, founders of the Desperado Detective Agency, in the throes of a new mystery surrounding the haunted Old Tupelo Inn.

Turnage, Sheila. Three Times Lucky. Dial, 2012. 312p. Gr. 5-7.
Arriving in Tupelo Landing under her own mysterious circumstances, eleven-year-old Mo now finds herself becoming quite the detective when a murder turns her small North Carolina town upside down. 

Vicente, Alidis. The Missing Chancleta and Other Top-Secret Cases/La chancleta perdida y otros casos secretos; tr. from Spanish by Gabriela Baeza Ventura. Piñata/Arte Público, 2013. [80p]. Gr. 2-3.
Eight-year-old Detective Flaca recalls three of her recent cases. When her chancleta (flip-flop) goes missing, she interrogates her family and reaches a brick wall, before she remembers that she threw her shoe at a mosquito, after which it slid behind her nightstand. Flaca narrowly escapes an assassination attempt when someone put a fruit cup containing oranges in her lunch (she’s allergic), and when her mother signs her up for dance lessons to prepare for her sister’s quinceañera, she is troubled to discover she can’t find her moves!

Wasserman, Robin. The Book of Blood and Shadow. Knopf, 2012. 432p. Gr. 9-12.
Nora did not expect her senior year of boarding school to be so exciting. While helping an eccentric professor translate a sixteenth-century alchemy text and letters from the alchemist’s daughter Elizabeth, Nora grows close to Chris and Max, who also work on the project. When Chris is murdered and Max is the prime suspect, Max disappears, leading Nora on a journey to decipher the conspiracy in Elizabeth’s letters.

Winters, Ben H. The Mystery of the Missing Everything. Harper/HarperCollins, 2011. 263p. Gr. 5-8.
This isn’t Bethesda Fielding’s first time at the sleuthing rodeo, and the eighth grader finds her skills put to the test again when her school’s only trophy is stolen and the principal goes on a punishment spree to reveal the thief. While conducting her own investigation, Bethesda finds her fellow classmates are keeping way more secrets than a missing trophy.

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