Best Children's Books About Detectives

94+ Children's Books About Detectives

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Hardy Boys 1: The Tower Treasure book
#1
Hardy Boys 1: The Tower Treasure
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Hardy Boys series, first published in 1927, has sold more than 70 million copies! Now with a brand-new look, this is an edition that collectors won't want to miss! In The Tower Treasure, the first book in the incredibly popular, long-running series, Frank and Joe Hardy work together to solve a high-stakes jewel heist. A special treat for Hardy Boys fans and any reader who's new to the series!

Sloth Slept on book
#2
Sloth Slept on
Written and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Who's that sleeping in our tree? When a group of kids finds an animal happily napping in their backyard, they set out to discover what it is and where it belongs. As they search and search--never noticing the posters and articles about a sloth that's fled the zoo--they finally discover the identity of the snoozing creature. When sloth wakes up, it's in for a BIG surprise!

Andi Unexpected book
#3
Andi Unexpected
Written by Amanda Flower
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The first in a new middle-grade mystery series, in Andi Unexpected, twelve-year-old Andi Boggs, discovers evidence of her forgotten namesake, a missing relative, which leads her into a family mystery rooted in the Great Depression.

Basil of Baker Street book
#4
Basil of Baker Street
Written by Eve Titus and illustrated by Paul Galdone
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Named one of “13 Detective Book Series You Obsessed over as a Kid” by Buzzfeed.com and the inspiration for a hit Disney film, the masterful Great Mouse Detective series is now available to a whole new generation of readers! Basil—the famous sleuth of mousedom—lives in the cellar of Sherlock Holmes’s house. A devoted admirer of the great detective, he has learned his craft by listening at the feet of Holmes himself. But will it be enough to help Basil solve his most baffling mystery yet? The Mystery of the Missing Twins is one of the strangest cases in Basil’s career. With only a few crumbs of clues with which to find answers, how is he ever going to figure out where Angela and Agatha are being kept—and, of course, who mouse-napped them! Will Basil’s mouse sleuthing skills be up to the task of finding the twins before it’s too late?

Peekaboo! in the Jungle! book
#5
Peekaboo! in the Jungle!
Written and illustrated by Cocoretto
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

Peekaboo! Who's hiding in the jungle? Lift the flap to find out!Perfect for guessing, prediction and memory skills – and simply joining in!

Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of the Baskervilles book
#6
Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of the Baskervilles
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Delight your little one with the sounds and sights of a mysterious night in Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of Baskervilles: A BabyLit Sounds Primer. Alison Oliver’s bold illustrations correspond with Jennifer Adams’ clever, simple text to create pairings little bibliophiles will love to have read to them, such as “hounds howl,” “gates screech,” and “stairs creak.”

Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? book
#7
Who Ate All the Cookie Dough?
Written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Kanga and her friends try to discover who ate all of her cookie dough.

What Really Happened to Humpty? book
#8
What Really Happened to Humpty?
Written and illustrated by Jeanie Franz Ransom
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Detective Joe Dumpty rushes to investigate the mysterious circumstances under which his older brother, Humpty, fell from a wall on his first day as captain of the new Neighborhood Watch program.

Outfoxed book
#9
Outfoxed
Written and illustrated by Claudia Boldt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Harold is unlike any other fox. He hates eating chicken, for one thing. He much prefers reading detective novels. When Harold's father challenges him to catch a chicken as part of his initiation into adulthood, Harold is faced with a dilemma--should he obey his father and endanger the chicken's life, or do what his heart tells him is right? The latest title from award-winning illustrator Claudia Boldt, Outfoxed introduces a smart, independent-minded character in Harold the fox and is sure to become a bedtime favorite.

Officer Panda: Fingerprint Detective book
#10
Officer Panda: Fingerprint Detective
Written and illustrated by Ashley Crowley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Officer Panda notices some strange fingerprints in his neighborhood, he sets out to solve the curious case. Children will giggle along as they help Officer Panda figure out who's been leaving mysterious prints everywhere. This engaging picture book from debut talent Ashley Crowley is sure to delight kids over and over again. A fun and informative "Did You Know" section is included at the back so readers can learn more about fingerprints. Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts

Quiet! book
#11
Quiet!
Written and illustrated by Kate Alizadeh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-7

Sssh! Listen, what's that noise? Each room in a house has different noises and in this book the text and visual clues help a child experience the home through sound, which will be familiar to those children who are blind or partially sighted.

The Double Jinx Mystery book
#12
The Double Jinx Mystery
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A bird of ill omen is mysteriously left on the Drews’ front lawn. Did the person who put it there do so with the intent of jinxing Nancy and her father? This strange incident involves Nancy in her famous father’s case concerning a rare bird farm threatened with destruction to make room for a high-rise apartment house complex. People who are opposed to the ruthless take-over of the farm are being made the victims of jinxing by bad luck symbols and other threats to their safety. Even Nancy and her friend Ned Nickerson become targets! Nancy soon realizes that helping honest people to overcome their superstitions and fears can be as challenging as tracking down criminals. The young detective’s thrilling adventures will keep the reader in breathless suspense from the first page to the last.

The Secret of Mirror Bay book
#13
The Secret of Mirror Bay
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Aunt Eloise Drew invited Nancy and her friends to Mirror Bay Bide-a-Wee cabin near Cooperstown, New York, for a visit and a chance to solve the mystery of the woman who glides across the water. Upon their arrival, Nancy becomes mixed up in a vacation hoax and is nearly arrested for fraud. On the wooded mountain near the cabin further exciting events await Nancy and the other girls. In the deep forest, a weird luminescent green sorcerer appears who threatens to cast an evil spell on anyone investigating his strange activities. In a dangerous twist of circumstances Nancy finds that solving one mystery helps to solve another. What happens when the young detective and her friends uncover a cleverly concealed criminal operation?

The Mysterious Mannequin book
#14
The Mysterious Mannequin
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The strange disappearance of a young Turkish client of Mr. Drew’s and the gift of an Oriental rug with a coded message woven into its decorative border start Nancy on a difficult search for a missing mannequin. What happened to the attractive figure that Farouk Tahmasp used in the display window of this rug shop? Who is trying to keep Nancy from finding it – and why? Tracking down the intricate trail of clues takes Nancy and her friends Bess and George, Ned, Burt, and Dave to Turkey. Their sleuthing leads them to the Grand Bazaar in the exotic city of Istanbul, where Bess mysteriously disappears. Suspense mounts when Nancy encounters a vengeful enemy at an ancient underground reservoir. Events move swiftly as Nancy and her friends try to solve this challenging mystery!

Nancy Drew 51: Mystery of the Glowing Eye book
#15
Nancy Drew 51: Mystery of the Glowing Eye
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When Nancy Drew eagerly agrees to help her lawyer father solve the mystery of the glowing eye, she has no way of knowing that it will involve the kidnapping of her close friend Ned Nickerson. A puzzling note in Ned’s handwriting set Nancy and her friends Bess and George on a hazardous search for a bizarre criminal. From their base of operations, the Emerson College campus, the three girl detectives and Ned’s college pals follow a maze of clues to locate the kidnapper’s hideout and rescue Ned. Not only is Nancy greatly worried about Ned, but also she is alarmed by the high-handed methods of a woman lawyer who tries to take the case away from her. Readers will follow Nancy’s exciting adventures as she unravels this dangerous web of mystery.

Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play book
#16
Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play
Written by Deborah Hembrook, Kathryn Heling and illustrated by Andy Robert Davies
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Get in the game and use clues on the clotheslines to identify a slew of sports. Catchy rhymes and visual cues introduce young readers to sports in this companion to Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do. The clues in each lively verse can be spotted hanging from the clotheslines. What athlete wears those items? Turn the page to discover the sport at hand—and the athlete in full gear! From baseball and soccer, to fencing and archery, there’s something for everyone—including a surprise ending. A perfect choice for reading aloud and encouraging kids to join in the guessing and reveal. Andy Robert Davies’s quirky illustrations build a separate story from the text. Close attention to the details will help young readers build their own storytelling skills and help them make visual connections.

Judy Moody and Friends: Judy Moody, Tooth Fairy book
#17
Judy Moody and Friends: Judy Moody, Tooth Fairy
Written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Erwin Madrid
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

By popular demand, Judy Moody herself steps into the spotlight in a story that is sure to have kids grinning — and believing. Judy and her friends are on the playground when Jessica Finch overhears a fifth-grader talking. What!? There’s no such thing as the Tooth Fairy? Can that big kid be right? Luckily, Judy Moody is on the case! All she needs is one loose tooth, a semi-reluctant little brother, a bathtub, a string, a toy motorboat, and . . . open wide, Stink! But what if the real Tooth Fairy is a no-show? Judy Moody fans will happily sink their teeth into this cavity-free caper full of surprises — and a little bit of magic.

The Secret of the Forgotten City book
#18
The Secret of the Forgotten City
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Gold! There are rumors that long ago a treasure was hidden in a city now buried under the Nevada desert. Nancy and her friends plan to join a dig sponsored by two colleges to hunt for the gold. Before she starts, the young sleuth receives an ancient stone table with petroglyphs on it. With this amazing clue, however, come a threat and danger from a thief who also wants the treasure. One harrowing adventure after another besets Nancy, Bess, George, Ned, Burt, and Dave in 102-degree temperatures as they pursue Nancy’s hunches above and below ground. They are assisted by a fine woman and a young geology student, but both are unwilling participants in a strange plot. In the end Nancy and Ned nearly lose their lives, just after she has discovered the priceless hidden treasure of gold.

The Ringmaster's Secret book
#19
The Ringmaster's Secret
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Nancy is given a beautiful gold bracelet and finds that one of the charms is missing. When she learns the unusual story behind the jewelry, she sets out to solve the fascinating mystery. The bracelet had been presented to a former circus performer by a queen who loved horses. For some reason the performer had to sell the bracelet but would not reveal her true identity. Clues lead Nancy to Sims’ Circus, where she meets Lolita, an unhappy young aerialist who has a horse charm wrought exactly like those on Nancy’s bracelet. Will Nancy be able to find the original owner of the bracelet?

Nancy Drew 39: The Clue of the Dancing Puppet book
#20
Nancy Drew 39: The Clue of the Dancing Puppet
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When the eerie performances of a life-size puppet begin to haunt the old Van Pelt estate, where an amateur acting group – The Footlighters – have their theater, Nancy Drew is called upon to unravel the baffling mystery. From the moment the detective and her friends Bess and George arrive at the mansion, the dancing puppet puzzle is further complicated by Tammi Whitlock, the Footlighters’ temperamental leading lady, and Emmet Calhoun, a Shakespearean actor. Nancy’s search of the mansion’s dark, musty attic for clues to the weird mystery starts a frightening chain reaction. A phone call from a stranger with a witchlike, cackling voice warns her to “Get out!” Next an encounter with two jewel theft suspects adds another perplexing angle to the puzzle. When Nancy finally sees the life-size puppet flitting across the moonlit lawn and chases it, she learns that someone with a sinister motive is determined to keep her form solving the case. Is it one of the Footlighters? Or is it an outsider?

The Clue of the Leaning Chimney book
#21
The Clue of the Leaning Chimney
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Nancy Drew and her friend Bess discover that a rare and valuable Chinese vase has been stolen from the pottery shop of Dick Milton, a cousin of Bess. Dick had borrowed the vase from his Chinese friend, elderly Mr. Soong, and he is determined to repay Mr. Soong for the loss. He tells Nancy that if he can find “the leaning chimney,” he will be on the track of a discovery which will solve his financial problems. Nancy finds the leaning chimney, but it only leads her into more puzzles. Can there be any connection between the vase theft – one of a number of similar crimes – and the strange disappearance of the pottery expert Eng Moy and his daughter Lei?

The Secret of the Old Clock #1 book
#22
The Secret of the Old Clock #1
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A special treat for Nancy Drew fans, and any reader who’s new to the series! We’re releasing a stunning new edition of an old favorite: The Secret of the Old Clock, the first book in the incredibly popular, long-running series. It’s the same exciting mystery that readers have fallen in love with for more than 80 years—Nancy Drew has to help Mr. Crowly’s friends find his missing will, before the evil Topham family steals his full inheritance. Now with a brand-new look, this is an edition that collectors won’t want to miss!

The Haunted Bridge book
#23
The Haunted Bridge
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Mr. Drew is on the trail of an international ring of jewel thieves and asks Nancy to assist him. The trail leads to a summer resort area. Before Nancy has a chance to start work on her father’s case, a golf caddy tells her a frightening tale–in the dense woods nearby is an old wooden footbridge guarded by a ghost! Intrigued by the caddy’s story, Nancy decides to investigate. Several riddles confront the young detective as she attempts to solve the mystery of the haunted bridge and track down a woman suspected of being a key member of the gang of jewel thieves.

The Thirteenth Pearl book
#24
The Thirteenth Pearl
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Nancy is asked to locate a stolen pearl necklace that is unusual and very valuable. She soon learns that strange and dangerous people are responsible for the theft. They harass her at home and intensify it when she and her father go to Japan, until they finally manage to kidnap Nancy and her friend Ned Nickerson when she returns to River Heights. Through clever sleuthing, Nancy is able to penetrate the rites of an amazing group of pearl worshippers, some of whose members are far from devout, and she uncovers underhanded dealings of certain employees of World Wide Gems, Inc., a tremendous international jewelry company. Readers will love accompanying Nancy, disguised as a Japanese girl, in this adventure in Tokyo.

The Crown Affair book
#25
The Crown Affair
Written by Jeanie Franz Ransom and illustrated by Stephen Axelsen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

In the sequel to What REALLY Happened to Humpty?, Jack (Jill’s other half) fell down the Hill and had his crown stolen. It’s up to detective Joe Dumpty to round up the usual suspects and track down the culprit.

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