Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – SLEUTHS!

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This week on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (sponsored by the lovely Shannon Messenger) I’d like to talk about sleuths. But first, some painful childhood reminiscence.

Despite my mother being a public librarian, as a child I didn’t use the library nearly as much as you might think. I lived in a house full of books, and though many of them weren’t suitable or of interest to me, others captured my interests so fully that I read them over and over. But it was a slightly random collection. I’ve previously blogged about books I read over and over. All of these were books I or someone in my house owned.

That’s the clincher. I’m the youngest of four girls. Of those books that I read and re-read most were not purchased for me. So, no matter my age I read things suited to the tastes of intellectual older girls. I have strong memories of reading books just because I found them laying around the house.  I often wonder what my childhood reading might have been like if I’d had older brothers instead. I might have been more into comic books, superheroes or high fantasy maybe.

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: The Secret of The Old Clock & The Hidden StaircaseAt some point in my childhood, I found a Nancy Drew book laying around. It was a kind of double feature with THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE and THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK. I don’t remember the OLD CLOCK very well but I must have read THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE about a dozen times. I’m not sure what captured my imagination about this particular story. I’d always liked hidden passageways (I still do!) so I guess that’s part of it. But I also think I really liked Nancy. She was beautiful but sensible, smart but feminine, vulnerable but brave.The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew, #2)

I never got really obsessed about Nancy Drew or anything. I think that’s a little sad. I just re-read this book over and over like a kid marooned on an island. I’m not sure why I someone didn’t notice me reading it and suggest I take out a few more of the fifty or so Nancy Drew books I’m sure they had shelved twenty feet from where my mom worked every day. Perhaps this is a conversation I should be having with my shrink.

At any rate, sleuths were, are and I think always will be cool for kids. NANCY DREW, THE HARDY BOYS, NATE THE GREAT and ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN all solved their rather gentle mysteries in my day (though Nancy was OLD by the time I read her). Nancy Drew has been re-booted for my daughter’s generation, joined by new gentle sleuths such as THE SISTERS EIGHTSAMMY KEYES as well as more hard core young sleuths investigating murders such as THEODORE BOONE .

Sleuth fiction is a great change of pace for a kid reader who is stuck in reading rut. I think there is something very satisfying about reading a mystery and trying to puzzle it out along with the sleuth hero. THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE is short, about 36,000 words, and has reading level of grade five making it a perfect and contained book for a young reader who is looking for something a little different.

Speaking of sleuths, I can’t wait to read the new series SLEUTH OR DARE series by Kim Harrington. Great title. Great covers. This new three title series just came out this summer. One for mother daughter front porch reading club for sure!

Partners in Crime (Sleuth or Dare, #1)

For more MMGM fun check these other blogs:

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4 thoughts on “Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – SLEUTHS!

  1. Great post, Gabrielle! I used to devour Nancy Drew too. And I love hidden staircases — in fact I just visited The House of the Seven Gables in Salem, MA and there’s a secret door to a hidden staircase! It was a tight squeeze, but all of the tourists in our group made it up the winding staircase to the attic. I’ve been eyeing those Sleuth or Dare books at the bookstore. They do look like fun.

  2. I loved both Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as a kid. I’ve also bought the first Sisters Eight book to read as well, and I’m most certainly looking forward to it. And, of course, my MG, which is presently out on submission, is a mystery at heart. A little mystery is always welcome in MG, I think!

  3. Looks like a great series. Must check them out. My Amanda travel adventure series has Amanda doing some sleuthing as well. I also loved the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden stories as a kid. (Still do actually)

  4. I love mysteries and devoured Nancy Drew books as a kid. I read all of them- in a short period of time. I wanted to solve mysteries just like Nancy and her friends! I can see why you liked The Hidden Staircase- I have always loved hidden passageways and things like that. I also think Sleuth or Dare looks interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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