Follow the Clues

mr lemoncellos library cover

A former student recommended I read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein because there is a character in the story who has the same last name I do. It took me a few months to get to it, but I finally read it during my spring break.

This book follows a group of characters who are trapped in a library through a scavenger hunt of library knowledge in order to escape. The book becomes a puzzle for the reader too. It taps into your library skills and background knowledge of classic books. The riddles inserted into the story reminded me of a few other books I read and really liked. I had a starter list of this style of books in my Style-Alike book post, but I thought it was time for a dedicated scavenger-hunt-wrapped-in-a-mystery list.

Most titles on the list have the “riddle” element to them, but I also included classic mystery books like Nancy Drew where characters uncover clues to solve the crime without having to decode a puzzle first to reveal the clue.

red blazer girls cover

  • The 7th Level by Jody Feldman
  • Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs
  • Benjamin Pratt & Keepers of the School series by Andrew Clements
  • Chasing Vermeer (and others) by Blue Balliett
  • Conspiracy 365 series by Gabrielle Lord (must be read in order)
  • Floors series by Patrick Carman
  • Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman
  • Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon
  • The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (and The 39 Clues series)
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
  • Red Blazer Girls series by Michael D. Beil
  • The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch
  • The Sherlock Files series by Tracy Barrett
  • The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
  • The Teddy Bear Habit by James Lincoln Collier (older publication)
  • Theodore Boone Detective series by John Grisham
  • Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

floors cover

Mysteries are actually a great book style for younger readers (1st through 3rd grade) because students have to maintain plot details from earlier in the book to understand any resolutions that happen later in the book. There are many series for this lower reading level that are popular. Reading multiple books from a series strengthens reading because they typically follow the same plot pattern in each book. This gets repetitive for an adult but actually helps improve reading skills in kids because they can begin to more accurately anticipate what will happen next, which makes the story easier to follow and remember.

  • The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids by Debbie Dadey and Marcia T. Jones
  • A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (I like the ones by the original author the best, 1-19)
  • Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol
  • Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson
  • Jigsaw Jones by James Preller
  • The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne

jigsaw jones book cover


Have you read any good mysteries lately?


12 thoughts on “Follow the Clues

    • I know how you feel! One of my favorite things to do is sit in bed on a Saturday or Sunday morning and reading a book cover to cover.It just doesn’t happen that often.

  1. This may be the very book I’m looking for! I use The Westing Game for my advanced readers, but some students find it too difficult. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library sounds similar, and if the Lexile (720) holds true, I may have found a parallel text for those! Thanks

    • It is a good read-alike for Westing Game, but there are some “solve the puzzle” parts to the story that require close reading. Hope it works for your students– it is a fun read!

  2. Oh man, you’ve blessed me with a list of great throwbacks! I LOVE the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Encyclopedia Brown books! Just a couple of weeks ago, I was looking on the Internet on how I could get my hands on the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books sets. And just this week, I was a-wonderin’ if kids still read Encyclopedia Brown. Thanks a bunch for makin’ mention of ’em here. Will check out the other books on your list.

  3. Reblogged this on untitled press and commented:
    Yeee! A great list of great books I had absolutely enjoyed reading when I was a kid. Just last week, I was looking to get my hands on the books sets of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. And just this week, I was a-wonderin’ to myself if kids nowadays still read the Encyclopedia Brown books. So it just thrilled me to see ’em on this book list by

  4. Great suggestions – thank you. Others to consider that are similar are: Potato Chip Puzzles and the Gollywhopper series in case you need more.

  5. Pingback: Mystery, History, and Art | TheRoomMom

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