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Investigation: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about investigation?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to investigation. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about investigation.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about investigation, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Eye That Never Sleeps to popular sellers like The Great Shelby Holmes.

We hope this list of kids books about investigation can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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The Great Shelby Holmes
Written by Elizabeth Eulberg
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Sherlock Holmes gets a fun, sweet twist with two irresistible young heroes and black & white illustrations throughout, in this middle grade debut from internationally bestselling YA author Elizabeth Eulberg.

Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth grader. She’s nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen–always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes.

When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that’s eluded her up till now: a friend. The easy-going John isn’t sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that’ll take both their talents to crack.

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Boil Line
Written by M.J. McIsaac
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Camp Clearwater is home to best friends Nate, Owen and Mercy. They practically grew up on the Starling River. But the summer they turn sixteen an incident forces the camp to close its doors. Mike Elliot, the river guide who taught the teens everything they know, is lost to the rapids. A tragic accident, everyone agrees. Except for Nate. Mike was the best kayaker he’d ever met. The smartest. The safest. He respected and loved the river, and as far as Nate is concerned, the river loved Mike back. If his instructor was pulled under by the Starling, then Nate is sure foul play was involved. To find the truth, Nate must face his greatest fears as he retraces Mike’s final run through the Black Hole, the most treacherous waters on the Starling.

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InvestiGators
Written & illustrated by John Patrick Green
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Perfect for fans of Dog Man! This goofy graphic novel series follows the super spy alligator duo the InvestiGators as they travel through the sewers and fight the forces of evil.

Meet the InvestiGators. With their gadgets, know-how, and super-fast transportation system (they flush themselves down toilets to speed through the sewers!), Mango and Brash are the scourge of the super-villain landscape! As vest-wearing employees of the Special Undercover Investigation Teams, they solve all kinds of mysteries and frequently butt heads with their archnemesis: a former agent known as Crackerdile.

Riddled with puns, potty humor, absurdism, and hilarious twists, InvestiGators is the perfect series for Dog Man fans looking for their next great read! It’s kid-friendly comics at their best.

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The Unabomber
Written by Bryan Denson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A new true-crime series that follows FBI agents behind the scenes as they work to keep Americans safe.

A case of homegrown terrorism: the Unabomber. Agent Kathleen Puckett was a successful linguist and a highly trained psychologist before she was recruited for the UNABOMB investigation. The Unabomber had evaded capture for 17 years, carried out 13 bombings, and killed three men. Agent Puckett was a catalyst in understanding the psychology behind the Unabomber crimes. She led the team to make the arrest of Theodore Kaczynski on April 4, 1996, bringing down one of the most notorious domestic terrorists in American history.

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Death by Airship
Written & illustrated by Arthur Slade
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Prince Conn will never be king. And that’s just fine with him. He’s ninth in line for the pirate throne and is quite happy to sail the skies in his airship with his crew of cheery misfits, plundering as they go. But one by one his siblings are being murdered, in tragic fires, violent cannon attacks or mysterious poisonings. Soon all fingers are pointing toward Conn as the mastermind. To prove his innocence, Conn must make his way to Skull Island, navigating his airship through a gauntlet of villains, explosions and betrayals. Can he reach his father’s kingdom before it’s too late? Or will he suffer the same fate as the rest of his family?

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  • Howard Wallace, - Lyall s debut is a winner. “ “Publishers Weekly” What s with the get-up? Is that the company uniform or something? This? All P.I.s wear a trench coat. Dude, that s a brown bathrobe. I shrugged and straightened out my sleeves. First rule of private investigation, Ivy: work with what you ve got. “ Twelve-year-old Howard Wallace lives by his list of rules of private investigation. He knows more than anyone how to work with what he s got: a bathrobe for a trench coat, a makeshift office behind the school equipment shed, and not much else least of all, friends. So when a hot case of blackmail lands on his desk, he s ready to take it on himself . . . until the new kid, Ivy Mason, convinces him to take her on as a junior partner. As they banter through stakeouts and narrow down their list of suspects, Howard starts to wonder if having Ivy as a sidekick and a friend is such a bad thing after all.”

  • The Newspaper Club - Shortly after Nellie Murrow, named for one of the fiercest journalists who ever lived and daughter of two (former) newspaper reporters, move to sleepy Bear Creek, Maine, rumors of vandalism and attacks at the only park in town are keeping Nellie saddled to the house. Some townspeople say the attacks are gang recruitments. Others blame a vagrant spotted on the hiking trails around town. But when Nellie thinks like a reporter, none of those explanations make sense. Something is happening at the park, but what? All of the fake online news and rumors are clouding the real news. Nellie wants to break the story–and break free from the front yard-but she can’t do it alone. She needs a whole club if she’s going to start the town’s first independent newspaper–The Cub Report. Creating a newspaper from scratch is going to be tough; but for Nellie, making friends is even harder.

  • The Eye That Never Sleeps - From award-winning author Marissa Moss comes the first children’s book about Allan Pinkerton, one of America’s greatest detectives. Everyone knows the story of Abraham Lincoln, but few know anything about the spy who saved him! Allan Pinkerton’s life changed when he helped the Chicago Police Department track down a group of counterfeiters. From there, he became the first police detective in Chicago and established the country’s most successful detective agency. He went on to solve more than 300 murders and recover millions of dollars in stolen money. However, his greatest contribution was protecting Abraham Lincoln on the way to his 1861 inauguration. Though assassins attempted to murder Lincoln en route, Pinkerton foiled their plot and brought the president safely to the capital. The Eye That Never Sleeps is illustrated with a contemporary cartoon style, mixing art and text in a way that appeals to readers of all ages. The book includes a bibliography and a timeline.

  • Curiosity House: The Fearsome Firebird - In this third book in the exceptional Curiosity House mystery series by bestselling author Lauren Oliver and mysterious recluse H. C. Chester, four children must uncover the evil Nicholas Rattigan’s newest dastardly scheme, wage war with a rival freak show, and deal with a spy who may have infiltrated their happy home. Sam, Philippa, Thomas, and Max have just started to recover from their capture and subsequent escape from Rattigan. But the children’s lives don’t stay quiet for long. A slew of bank robberies is terrorizing the city. And when Professor Farnum, the ringmaster of the museum’s now immensely popular flea circus, is charged with murder, the search for the real killer uncovers a plot much bigger than any individual crime—a plot that can only be the work of Nicholas Rattigan. This is the third book in the series and contains even more exciting marvels, such as: A nefarious spy within the museum A very unfortunate flea circus The heavenly Georgie Rawls, from the original cast of Last Chance A beautiful and mysterious tattooed lady It continues not to have: A comprehensive review of the top ten toothbrushes A heaping bowl of sugarless cereal A long and boring family vacation A handmade, scratchy wool sweater Learn more about the series online at www.thecuriosityhouse.com

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Assassin's Code
Written & illustrated by Alex Woolf
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

To read or not to read? With a pulse-pounding historical thriller series like The Shakespeare Plot there’s really only one answer! Journey back in time to danger-filled Elizabethan London. Alice Fletcher is a stagehand at the Globe theatre. When her brother, Richard, goes missing, Alice seeks him with the help of Tom Cavendish, servant to the power-hungry Earl of Essex. Packed with a heady Elizabethan atmosphere of political scheming, romance and murder. The swiftly paced, suspenseful plot will keep young readers on the edge of their seats while giving them an insight into the history of Shakespeare’s England.

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The House in Poplar Wood
Written & illustrated by K. E. Ormsbee
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

Haunted Mansion meets Stranger Things

★ “A smart, thrilling mystery” -Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “Magical elements, evocative, intelligent writing, and ever-ratcheting suspense.”-Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“The foreboding atmosphere perfectly matches the dark mystery and high stakes confronting the middle-schoolers.” –Booklist

For as long as the Vickery twins can remember, Lee and his mother have served Memory, while Felix and his father assist Death. This is the Agreement. But one Halloween, Gretchen Whipple smashes her way into their lives. Her bargain is simple: If the twins help her solve the murder of local girl Essie Hasting, she’ll help them break the Agreement. The more the three investigate, however, the more they realize that something’s gone terribly wrong in their town. Death is on the loose, and if history repeats itself, Essie’s might not be the last murder in Poplar Wood. Simultaneously heartwarming and delightfully spooky, The House in Poplar Wood is a story about a boy’s desire to be free, a girl’s desire to make a difference, and a family’s desire to be together again.

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Lock and Key: The Final Step
Written by Ridley Pearson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The New York Times bestselling author of the Peter and the Starcatchers and Kingdom Keepers series, Ridley Pearson, brings us the thrilling conclusion to the Lock and Key trilogy.

Before James Moriarty and his sister Moria enrolled in Baskerville Academy, they were inseparable—as close to best friends as a brother and sister could be. But since setting foot on the boarding school’s campus, James has been different.

At Baskerville, he’s become cunning, deceptive, ruthless, sometimes reckless. And now that his roommate Sherlock Holmes has been expelled, there’s no one left to help Moira figure out what’s going on with her brother or to uncover the connection between a recent string of deaths.

To Moria, it seems obvious that someone has it out for the Moriarty family. First their father and then their family driver and now their legal guardian—clearly something is afoot. But to get the answers they need, they’ll first have to deal with an incriminating photograph, secret safe houses, and powerful enemies.

It’s a highly original and satisfying take on the Sherlock Holmes series as only master of suspense Ridley Pearson could envision.

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Henry & Eva and the Castle on the Cliff
Written by Andrea Portes
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Prominent Environmentalist and Oceanographer Die in Boating Accident

This is the headline that changes Henry and Eva’s lives. Their parents, environmentalist William Billings and his oceanographer wife Margo, disappear mysteriously at sea.

But for Henry and Eva, things are about to go from bad to worse. Their jerk-face uncle (nicknamed Claude the Clod) and his awful girlfriend (Terri the Terrible) have moved into their big house on the cliff to “take care of them,” but Eva has her doubts about their intentions.

And when some spooky visitors appear with a message, they realize that their parents’ deaths might not have been as cut and dry as everyone thinks.

It’s up to Henry and Eva to discover the truth—but can they do it before the Clod catches them?

Perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket, readers of this arch, spooky, timeless tale will find themselves enraptured with this fresh new middle grade series.

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Shutout
Written & illustrated by Jeff Ross
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Alex Paterson is the number-one goalie on his high-school hockey team. And he’s thrilled that his team has made the playoffs. But when graffiti that apparently can be traced back to Alex is found on the walls of the school, and a photo of Alex at a party with a beer in his hand starts making the rounds, he is suspended from the team, and his reputation as a good kid is put in doubt. Alex knows he’s innocent. The problem is, he cannot figure out who would want to frame him. Or why. Is it the other goalie who wants all the glory for himself? Or someone from a rival team looking for an advantage? With everyone assuming the worst about him, it’s up to Alex to find out who is behind it all, not only to clear his name, but to save the season.

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