Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Mystery & Suspense

Zoey & Sassafras: Dragon & Marshmallows by Asia Citro

Cover image for Dragons and marshmallowsZoey discovers a secret when her mom leaves on a work trip. She can see magical animals! So can her mom, who helps sick magical animals in the barn behind their house. Since her mom is away, Zoey steps in to help when a baby dragon shows up at the barn. Zoey uses the scientific method and runs an experiment to figure out what the dragon likes to eat, which includes marshmallows. This is the first in a new beginner chapter book series that combines science and mystery.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid by Colin Meloy

Cover image for The whiz mob and the grenadine kidThe Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid by Colin Meloy is a whimsical adventure full of tongue-in-cheek humor and a whole lot of twists and turns. When Charlie’s mother abandons him, he finds himself suddenly traveling the world with his diplomat father whom he hardly knows and never sees. They are currently in France and Charlie is bored. One day while sitting on a bench with his notebook, a boy comes up and steals the pen right out of Charlie’s hand. The boy is so sneaky that Charlie doesn’t even know it’s happening! Charlie is so intrigued that he begs the boy to teach him the ways of pickpocketing, and thus gets pulled into the fast-paced, high stakes world of the whiz mob: a group of kids who make their living stealing from the rich.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley

Cover image for The Harlem charadeHow do a painting, a goat, a feather, and the neighborhood Harlem in New York City all go together? That is exactly what Jin, Alex, and Elvin are trying to figure out. It all started when this young boy finds a famous piece of artwork from an obscure Harlem Renaissance artist in a garden. Then, Elvin’s grandfather is attacked in that same garden and is in the hospital. Soon, they are working together to figure out what happened to Elvin’s grandfather while also trying to learn more about the found painting and the artist. Somehow they all seem to be linked and maybe that means there is more artwork to find. However, they aren’t the only ones that have thought of this. There are some adults also looking for it. If the wrong people get their hands on it, it could mean the end of Harlem as a neighborhood.

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Cover image for Under the eggTheodora “Theo” Tenpenny knows a lot about artwork. Her grandfather was an artist and worked as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then, he passed away and left her a note telling her to “look under the egg.” What egg? Did he mean the painting that hangs in his art studio? It has a large egg on it. When she accidentally spills water on this painting, she finds that there is another painting; one that looks like it should be in a museum. How did her grandfather get this painting?  Did he do something illegal? Theo doesn’t know what to do. With the help of a new friend, Theo decides she must figure out what her grandfather did to get this painting and also clear his name if she needs to. This mystery has many twists and turns as well as some great information about art, World War II, and a special group called the Monuments Men.

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Cover image for Book scavengerA cross country move, secret puzzles, mysterious clues, bumbling bad guys, and a race to find the answers all equals one action filled book! In the Book Scavenger, Emily and her new friend James race around San Francisco as they solve clues and decode secret messages. It all started when Emily and James found a mysterious book in the subway. However, a couple of strange men want the book and are only a step or two behind. Read this book if you like puzzles, problem solving, and mysteries.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

Restart by Gordon Korman

Cover image for Restart : lose your memory, find your lifeWhat do you think it would be like to lose your memory? You don’t remember your family, friends, or what you were like before the amnesia. That’s what happened to Chase Ambrose in Restart by Gordon Korman.

Nobody really knows why he was up there, but Chase fell off the roof of his house and was lucky to survive with only bumps, bruises, and a concussion with the loss of his memory.

It turns out that Chase was a star football player at his middle school and was quite the bully. But he doesn’t remember any of that! The other kids at his school remember all too well and it takes some time for them to trust and adjust to the new Chase Ambrose who is nice, helpful, and hard-working…unlike the old Chase Ambrose who was mean, hurtful and, quite possibly, a thief.

Everyone wonders whether Chase will go back to his old ways as his memory gradually returns or move forward with this fresh start. Very few people ever get a second chance like this and the question remains: Will Chase take this chance?

I recommend this book for 4th through 6th graders who like realistic, humorous fiction, with the slightest touch of mystery.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

Cover image for The charmed children of Rookskill CastleSomething is terribly wrong at the castle.  Is  it haunted by ghosts?  Is it a secret hideout for Nazi spies?  Or is it under the control of an evil witch?  Twelve-year-old Kat and her siblings have been sent to boarding school in the castle in order to avoid the bombing in London.  But when the students start disappearing, Kat is worried that the children may be in even more danger than if they had stayed in London.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Finders Keepers by Shelly Tougas

Cover image for Finders keepersTen year old Christa loves her family’s cabin in Wisconsin but because of hard times, her family is going to sell it, leaving her without her favorite summer place! Fortunately, she and her friend, Adam, have wonderful imaginations and learn some stories about Al Capone and his stash of cash which is possibly hidden right under their noses. This book is about her search for this fortune and her quest to save the family summer home.

Trying to solve this mystery proves to be more dangerous than they could have ever imagined and her friends and loved ones are at risk.

I recommend this book for 4th-5th grade fans of mystery and adventure that enjoy a touch of humor, friendship and family sprinkled in.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut: Bowling Alley Bandit by Laurie Keller

Cover image for Bowling alley banditArnie is a pet “doughnut dog.” His owner, Mr. Bing, was hoping to eat him for breakfast, but when Arnie started talking he knew he had to come up with something else to do with his doughnut. He’s exactly the kind of pet you might like to have: he tells jokes, does impressions, and most people think he’s adorable. In this book, Arnie tries to figure out why Mr. Bing keeps rolling gutter balls in his championship bowling match. Together with his friends, a pizza slice, the karaoke lady, and some bowling balls and pins, Arnie will discover if someone is trying to sabotage the game. Along the way there will be songs, dancing, and lucky pink sprinkles galore! If you are a new chapter book reader, and love laughs and silliness, pick up The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut:Bowling Alley Bandit.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Tru & Nelle by G. Neri

Cover image for Tru & Nelle : a novelWhen Nelle and Tru first meet, they don’t seem to have much in common.  Nelle’s a tomboy, and Tru likes fancy clothes.   It’s their mutual love of mysteries that brings them together.  Soon they have formed their own detective agency and are off solving cases and having adventures.  One particularly funny scheme involves a plan to make money using a monster fish, a two-headed chicken, and pickled baby pig.  Things don’t go quite as planned when the two-headed chicken escapes, knocking the dead piglet onto the minister’s wife’s feet, causing her to faint.  Needless to say, no money was made that day.

Tru & Nelle is based on the childhood friendship of the famous writers Truman Capote and Harper Lee. I highly recommend this book for readers who like historical fiction, mysteries, and stories about friendship.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head