Best Kids Books About Detectives

30 Kids Books About Detectives

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? book
#1
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.

Outfoxed book
#2
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.

What Really Happened to Humpty? book
#3
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.

The Crown Affair book
#4
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.

Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play book
#5
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.

Quiet! book
#6
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.

Madeline and the Old House in Paris book
#7
Madeline and the Old House in Paris
Written and illustrated by John Bemelmans Marciano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Madeline and her favorite companion in mischief, Pepito, embark on their wildest adventure yet. When ghostly moans lead them to the attic of the old house in Paris, they discover Felix de La Morte, who has lingered there for hundreds of years, waiting for the return of a certain comet. With the comet due to return the very next day, the poor fellow’s telescope has been stolen by mean Lord Cucuface, and it is up to Madeline and Pepito to get it back. A nighttime trip across Paris, a midnight apparition, and all is happily resolved in time for the three new friends to view the comet on a starry night.

Madeline and the Cats of Rome book
#8
Madeline and the Cats of Rome
Written and illustrated by John Bemelmans Marciano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

The Paris skies are gray, so Miss Clavel and the twelve little girls are leaving for brighter weather? spring in Rome. Rome has wonderful sights to see and delicious things to eat, but Madeline also finds an unexpected adventure, involving a thief, a chase, and many, many cats. The first all-new Madeline book in close to fifty years combines a lively story with luminous gouache and watercolor illustrations. Beloved Madeline returns, as brave and irrepressible as ever!

Binny Bewitched book
#9
Binny Bewitched
Written by Hilary McKay and illustrated by Tony Ross
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When Binny finds some money left behind at an ATM—and then loses it—she unleashes an adventure full of “funny, poignant chaos” (The Wall Street Journal).Binny Cornwallis is not a thief. Or is she? In one greedy moment, she snatches some bills left behind at an ATM. After all it’s her mother’s birthday, and just think of what she could do with some cash in her never-quite-enough-money household. But of course she has to hide the money—she can’t explain it. And in her tiny house, every hiding place is in danger of discovery. After a few tries, Binny hides it so well she can’t find it again, even after she decides to give it back!Now, Binny must team up with her best enemy Gareth, who sets out to play detective and figure out who might have taken the money. Meanwhile the next-door neighbor is doing odd things like presenting Binny with a little doll that looks just like her—with her hand in her pocket, just as Binny’s was when she pocketed the cash. Is the witchy neighbor woman putting a spell on Binny?There’s plenty more going on, as Binny’s older sister Clem has a secret of her own, and her little brother James is having a kung fu clash with his best friend. Mayhem,love, and laughter run wild in this new hilarious Binny adventure.

Something Smells! book
#10
Something Smells!
Written by Blake Liliane Hellman and illustrated by Steven Henry
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Elliot wakes up one morning to the most terrible smell. But what could it be? Find out in this gentle introduction to hygiene that’s stinkin’ adorable! One morning, Elliot wakes up and smells something awful. Is it the trash? No… The dog? No… Dad? His sister? The baby? Grandma’s famous gerfartzenschanffel? No, no, no, and no! Elliot searches high and low for the something that smells, but he just can’t find it, and it’s driving him and his nostrils crazy. Almost as bad, now his mother wants him to take a bath, which means taking off his super cool skeleton costume that he’s been wearing since Halloween! The funny thing is, after Elliot finishes his bath and Mom puts his costume in the wash, something doesn’t smell anymore…

Judy Moody and Friends: Judy Moody, Tooth Fairy book
#11
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.

Buster the Very Shy Dog, More Adventures with Phoebe book
#12
Buster the Very Shy Dog, More Adventures with Phoebe
Written and illustrated by Lisze Bechtold
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

It’s backyard troubles galore for canine friends Buster and Phoebe in two easy-to-read adventures. The trouble begins when Buster and Phoebe get blamed for trashing the backyard and hatch a plan to find the real garbage bandit. But first they have to stay awake and keep away from skunks! Next, the pals search for buried “bone” treasures only to quibble about which bones belong to which dog. Buster may be shy but he’s smart enough to claim what’s rightfully his and kind enough to share it, too.

A House That Once Was book
#13
A House That Once Was
Written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Lane Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

The dynamic duo of Ezra Jack Keats Award–winning author Julie Fogliano and Caldecott Award–winning illustrator Lane Smith team up to tell a delightful story about a boy and a girl who explore an abandoned house and imagine who might have lived there in A House That Once Was. Deep in the woods is a house just a house that once was but now isn’t a home. Who lived in that house? Who walked down its hallways? Why did they leave it, and where did they go? Two children set off to find the answers, piecing together clues found, books left behind, forgotten photos, discarded toys, and creating their own vision of those who came before.

What Are You Waiting For? book
#14
What Are You Waiting For?
Written by Scott Menchin and illustrated by Matt Phelan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-8

A badger finds his rabbit friend outside waiting for something and giving badger clues and guesses to figure out they are waiting to see the moon appear.

Shopping Trip Trouble book
#15
Shopping Trip Trouble
Written by Jacqueline Jules and illustrated by Kim Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

It's time to go school shopping, and Sofia is extra excited about her new supplies. But that excitement turns to panic when her cousin Manuel goes missing. With Sofia's entire family on the case, Manuel won't be missing for long. This early chapter book includes writing prompts, discussion questions, an English/Spanish glossary, and a table of contents.

The Detective Dog book
#16
The Detective Dog
Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A rollicking rhyming picture book from bestselling author Julia Donaldson about a dog who uses her amazing sense of smell to solve mysteries. When Detective Dog Nell puts her nose to the task, there's no mystery she can't solve. Whether she's tracking the missing shoe of her human, Peter, or locating some lost honeycomb, all Nell has to do is sniff, sniff, sniff and she's hot on the trail. Besides solving mysteries, there's something else Nell loves—listening to children read. Every Monday, Peter takes her to school where children tell her stories. One day, Nell and Peter arrive to find that all the books are gone. Who could have taken them? And why? There's only one dog for the job, and Detective Dog Nell is ready to sniff out the thief!

Tracks in the Snow book
#17
Tracks in the Snow
Written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

A little girl investigates tracks in the snow, trying to determine what could have made them.

How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln book
#18
How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln
Written by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk and illustrated by Valentina Belloni
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In 1856, when Kate Warne went to see Allan Pinkerton, only men were detectives. But Kate convinced Allan to hire her for his detective agency. She explained that she could worm out secrets where men could not go—in disguise as a society lady! Join Kate on her most important mission—to thwart a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on the way to his inauguration.

Pedro's Mystery Club book
#19
Pedro's Mystery Club
Written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Tammy Lyon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Pedro forms a new club with his friends dedicated to solving mysteries--and the first two assignments are finding his mother's locket, and his father's cell phone.

Russell and the Lost Treasure book
#20
Russell and the Lost Treasure
Written and illustrated by Rob Scotton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Russell the sheep is determined to find the Lost Treasure of Frogsbottom. Equipped with his Super-Duper Treasure Seeker, Russell searches high and low, up and down, and in and out. Nothing! Finally, Russell finds an old chest! Could it be? Discover how Russell finds the most valuable treasure of all.

Mission Defrostable book
#21
Mission Defrostable
Written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Our favorite breakfast food friends are back and all bready for their next adventure! Can they save the fridge before all the food is iced? It's mission . . . defrostable. "And now with the two of you out of the fold, I've got my revenge and I'm serving it cold!" Brrr! There's a frost in the fridge--and it's hardened Pudding Pond and frozen Yogurt Falls. Agent Asparagus is on the case, and she begs Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast to join her superspy team. But when the enemy snatches Asparagus, Pancake and French Toast have only one dough man to turn to for help: the evil Baron von Waffle! Will he help them save the fridge . . . or are they doomed to become frozen food?

Be a City Nature Detectove book
#22
Be a City Nature Detectove
Written and illustrated by Peggy Kochanoff
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

How do bedbugs get into your home? Why are some gray squirrels black? Does goldenrod cause hay fever? Naturalist and artist Peggy Kochanoff answers these questions and more in this illustrated guide to solving nature mysteries in the city. From the author of the Silver Birch– nominated Be a Nature Detective series comes a new adventure full of fascinating facts. From scuttling cockroaches to waves of starlings to burdock heads on clothing, Kochanoff takes readers through city streets to show them the amazing nature growing there. Be a City Nature Detec

Officer Panda: Fingerprint Detective book
#23
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

Sherlock Chick's First Case book
#24
Sherlock Chick's First Case
Written and illustrated by Robert Quackenbush
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Look out Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Chick hatched from his egg with a detective’s hat and magnifying glass, and he’s on the case in this adorable, easy-to-follow mystery from Robert Quackenbush. Within moments of his birth, Sherlock Chick lived up to the name he’d just been given. His parents pointed out the fact that their feed bin was empty and they didn’t know who might have taken their corn. Sherlock follows the trail of corn, questioning animals along the way, until he finds the corn and the culprits. Will Sherlock Chick be able to get that corn back where it belongs?

Whose Ears? book
#25
Whose Ears?
Written and illustrated by Sue Tarsky
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Babies can spot the differences between animals and people in this pure fun book with a built-in guessing game and underlying educational aspect. Straightforward words and appealing, large illustrations bring smiles and chortles, a perfect opportunity for parents to cuddle up with little ones.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.