Thematic Reading List: Nancy Drew and Other Sleuths


The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew may have started the detective mystery for children’s reading, but many notable detectives have held their own throughout the years. The list of sleuths that follows is divided by the age of the sleuth, not by reading level. We were disappointed to find little diversity in modern publications, a problem that we hope publishers will remedy.





Girl Sleuths:
0803729936 Sly the Sleuth and the pet mysteries
By: Donna Jo Napoli and Robert Furrow

Sly the Sleuth, also known as Sylvia, solves three mysteries for her friends and neighbors, all involving pets, through her detective agency, Sleuth for Hire.

9780375802669 Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood mummy
By: Wendelin Van Draanen

A Hollywood actress, who had been competing with Sammy’s mother for an important role, is murdered, but thirteen-year-old Sammy and her friend Marissa are on the case.

9780142402115 Cam Jansen: the chocolate fudge mystery
By: David A. Adler

When Cam Jansen and her friend Eric uncover a mystery while selling fudge door-to-door to raise money for the local library, Cam uses her photographic memory to foil a crime.

9780810993228 The Sisters Grimm: the fairy-tale detectives
By: Michael Buckley

Orphans Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are sent to live with an eccentric grandmother whom they have always believed to be dead.

9780375867408 The Red Blazer Girls: the mistaken masterpiece
By: Michael D. Beil

Sophie and her friends, who call themselves The Red Blazer Girls, embark on solving a case involving mistaken identities, switched paintings, and some priceless family heirlooms.

Boy Sleuths:
0689879105 The buried bones mystery (Clubhouse Mysteries)
By: Sharon M. Draper

When the Black Dinosaurs, a club made up of four friends, discover what’s hidden in an old trunk buried near their clubhouse, they set out to solve the mystery.

9780440461265 Nate the Great
By: Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

When Annie tells him about her missing painting, Nate the Great and his trusted companion, Sam Spade, set out to investigate, gather clues, and solve the mystery.

0439678056 The case of the frog jumping contest (A Jigsaw Jones Mystery)
By: James Preller

Jigsaw Jones investigates when the champion frog in a frog-jumping contest mysteriously disappears.

0142410853 Encyclopedia Brown takes the case
By: Donald Sobol

Each chapter is a new mystery to be solved: The case of the stolen money — The case of the talking house — The case of the two-timers — The case of the false teeth — The case of the skin diver — The case of the barefoot thieves — The case of the dog-paddle derby — The case of the broken globe — The case of the pet skunk — The case of the seven-foot diver.

9781416978152 The case of the case of mistaken identity (Brixton Brothers)
By: Mac Barnett

When twelve-year-old Steve Brixton, a fan of Bailey Brothers detective novels, is mistaken for a real detective, he must elude librarians, police, and the mysterious Mr. E as he seeks a missing quilt containing coded information.

1250004810 The pirate’s blood and other case files (Saxby Smart Private Detective)
By: Simon Cheshire

Saxby Smart, schoolboy private detective, invites the reader to follow the clues as he investigates three cases involving hidden treasure, a string of break-ins where nothing is stolen, and a rare comic book taken from an undamaged safe.

Teen sleuths:
0671568795 The Nancy Drew files, case 121: natural enemies
By: Carolyn Keene

When Ned convinces Nancy to join him at the Rocky Isle Marine Institute in Maine, she discovers that the aquarium’s baby dolphin is being held for a million-dollar ransom.

0525479805 Gilda Joyce: the drop dead
By: Jennifer Allison

Almost-fifteen-year-old psychic investigator Gilda Joyce interns for the summer at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and solves a mystery involving national security.

1595140107 Lulu Dark can see through walls: a mystery
By: Bennett Madison

When someone steals her purse and her identity, high-school junior and reluctant girl sleuth Lulu Dark investigates.

9781442465855 Hardy Boys Adventure: secret of the red arrow
By: Franklin Dixon

Frank and Joe Hardy follow dangerous copycat pranks to a criminal group, identify the culprits who key an expensive car and post a video on the Internet; investigate the disappearance of an amusement park patron; and seek two missing girls.

9781410475404 Found: a Mickey Bolitar novel
By: Harlan Coben

Mickey Bolitar and his friends continue to investigate the Abeona Shelter, while Mickey searches for answers about his father’s tragic death.

0142405922 The Dark Stairs: Herculeah Jones mystery
By: Betsy Cromer Byars

The intrepid Herculeah Jones helps her mother, a private investigator, solve a puzzling and frightening case.


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