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Mystery: Picture Books For Kids

This list of the best picture books about mystery is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From A House That Once Was to Lily, the Little Elf Princess there's something here for everyone's tastes. Do you have a favorite book about mystery? Let us know!

A House That Once Was book
#1
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.

Antoinette book
#2
Antoinette
Written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"Raised in a family of talented bulldogs, Antoinette the poodle wonders what makes her special. She gets the chance to prove herself and find what she's good at when puppy Ooh-la-la goes missing"--

The Truth About My Unbelievable School . . . book
#3
The Truth About My Unbelievable School . . .
Written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Beware of . . . this school?! Henry is taking his new classmate on a whirlwind tour of their school. Mysterious inventions lurk, the cafeteria requires ninja skills, and some teachers may be monsters! Is this fantastical school to be believed? Or is there an even more outrageous surprise in store? Celebrated international author-illustrator team Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud—the duo behind Junior Library Guild selections I Didn't Do My Homework Because . . . and The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer . . . —are back with yet another rollicking tale about truth, lies, and . . . school!

Little Fox and the Missing Moon book
#4
Little Fox and the Missing Moon
Written and illustrated by Ekaterina Trukhan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Help Fox solve another simple mystery in this bedtime companion to Apples for Little Fox! The mystery-loving fox from Apples for Little Fox returns with a new case! When Fox dreams that the moon is missing, he and his friends go on a quest to find it and return it to the sky. Teamwork and companionship are highlighted in this simple, inviting mystery that allows readers to follow along. The muted palette and clean design will calm overstimulated children at the end of their busy days.

Two of Everything book
#5
Two of Everything
Written and illustrated by Lily Toy Hong
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When old Mr. Haktak digs up a curious brass pot in his garden, he has no idea what use it can be. On his way home, Mr. Haktak decides to carry his coin purse in the mysterious pot. But when Mrs. Haktak’s hairpin accidentally slips into the pot and she reaches in to retrieve it, the magic of the pot is revealed. Not only are there two hairpins inside, but there are also two purses!

  1. The Mystery of the Missing Cake - "Donkey has invited Harold to his party, but all is not what it seems when the birthday cake disappears! Everyone is a prime suspect in The Mystery of the Missing Cake! But can Harold piece together the clues to solve the case and save the party?"--Page [4] of cover.

  2. A Piglet Named Mercy - Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson live ordinary lives. Sometimes their lives feel a bit too ordinary. Sometimes they wish something different would happen. And one day it does, when someone unpredictable finds her way to their front door. In a delightful origin story for the star of the Mercy Watson series, a tiny piglet brings love (and chaos) to Deckawoo Drive—and the Watsons’ lives will never be the same.

  3. Forever or a Day - What does time mean to you? Sometimes it feels like it could last Forever or a Day. The seconds that count in catching the bus; The idyllic hours that slip by so quickly during a perfect day on the lake; The summer days that disappear into blissful happiness . . . Sarah Jacoby's debut picture book as an author and illustrator is as elegant as a poem and as perfectly paced as a mystery. This beautiful picture books follows an unassuming narrator through a meditation on time through the course of a single day. Inviting comparisons to Virginia Lee Burton and Margaret Wise Brown, this book's musings on time are at once simple, peaceful, and profound—the work of a truly genius picture book maker.

  4. Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? - Kanga and her friends try to discover who ate all of her cookie dough.

Outfoxed book
#10
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.

Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride book
#11
Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride
Written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

In the second book of this lauded series, Fox and Chick are off on three new adventures involving a boat ride, a mysterious box, and an early morning trip to see the sunrise. Despite the antics ensuing from their opposite personalities, the contradictory duo always manages to find a happy center. This early chapter book in comic-book form is perfect for emerging readers, while the sweet and funny characters and captivating art hold appeal for picturebook audiences as well.

Mission Defrostable book
#12
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?

The Giant Jumperee book
#13
The Giant Jumperee
Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Two of the world’s most celebrated picture book creators, Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury, team up for the first time in this jaunty animal fable for fans of Room on the Broom and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Rabbit arrives home one day to hear a loud voice coming from inside his burrow: “I’m the Giant Jumperee and I’m scary as can be!” shouts the stranger. Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear, and Elephant come to help, but they’re no match for the mysterious, booming voice. But who is the Giant Jumperee? Find out in this new read-aloud classic from internationally bestselling author Julia Donaldson, beautifully brought to life by award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury.

Hamster Holmes, A Bit Stumped book
#14
Hamster Holmes, A Bit Stumped
Written by Albin Sadar and illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Hamster Holmes and his firefly sidekick, Dr. Watt, solve a colorful new mystery in this Level 2 Ready-to-Read story perfect for beginning readers! Hamster Holmes and his firefly sidekick, Dr. Watt, have a new case…and for the first time, Hamster Holmes is stumped. It all began when an owl named Rufus Feathers started to design a new tile patio for his house, and the yellow tiles went missing. The hardest part of this case? There is only one clue! Will this be the case that finally stumps Hamster Holmes and Dr. Watt?

  1. Battle of the Pirate Bands - Pirates from across the seven seas are gathering for the greatest of pirate competitions. But when the prize trophy is stolen, the Monkey Pirates are framed as the thieves. Can the crew clear their nearly-fearless names? A glossary, discussion questions, and writing prompts round out this exciting adventure story.

  2. Lost in the Library - Steadfast Fortitude and curious Patience are waiting every morning to greet visitors of the Library. That is until, one early morning, when Fortitude finds Patience is missing. The city is about to awake, and the lions absolutely must be in their places before the sun rises. Now, Fortitude must abandon his own post to find his best friend in the Library’s labyrinthine halls. With Josh Funk's clever rhymes and Stevie Lewis' vibrant art, Lost in the Library introduces young readers to a pair of unforgettable lions, as well as the famed New York Public Library, and includes bonus material loaded with facts about Patience, Fortitude, and the NYPL's history.

  3. Binny Bewitched - 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.

  4. Happy Halloween! - Dozing in front of his fireplace on Halloween night, the Count hears someone knocking at his castle door but sees nobody when he answers, a mystery that leads to spooky fun with Elmo and other Sesame Street friends.

Judy Moody and Friends: Judy Moody, Tooth Fairy book
#19
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 Magic Garden book
#20
The Magic Garden
Written and illustrated by Carme Lemniscates
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Just like the passing of the seasons, or the mysterious transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, in this garden, everything is continually changing. With gorgeous illustrations and a beautiful story of a young girl discovering the marvels of nature, The Magic Garden is sure to delight young readers. At the end, the mysteries uncovered in the story are explained, so children can get their questions about the natural world answered, including sections on how bees make honey, why some animals camouflage themselves, and how a seed grows into a tree. Learning about nature has never been more enchanting!

Among a Thousand Fireflies book
#21
Among a Thousand Fireflies
Written by Helen Frost and illustrated by Rick Lieder
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

How can a firefly find the one, among so many? Exquisite photographs and poetic text evoke a sense of mystery and magic. On a summer evening, just as the stars blink on, a firefly lands on a flower. Lights start to flash all around her -- first one, then three, seven. Hundreds. Thousands. How will she find just one flash among them? And will he see her flash in return? In evocative photographs and lyrical language, Rick Lieder and Helen Frost, creators of the critically acclaimed Step Gently Out and Sweep Up the Sun, offer a true story of how two fireflies come together after finding each other's light among thousands of others.

The Case of the Missing Chalk Drawings book
#22
The Case of the Missing Chalk Drawings
Written and illustrated by Richard Byrne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The chalks are drawing flowers on the chalkboard, but someone keeps stealing their artwork! Who could the thief be? Fortunately, Sergeant Blue is on the case and determined to solve the crime. It's a fun and funny read-aloud mystery with a colorful cast of characters, from This book just ate my dog! author-illustrator Richard Byrne. Godwin Books

Lily, the Little Elf Princess book
#23
Lily, the Little Elf Princess
Written and illustrated by Stefanie Dahle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Join Lily, the little Elf Princess, and her friends as they solve a magical mystery! Lily is determined to find the right spell to charm the water lilies on Lake Magic to open their blossoms so her friend can attend the great Annual Celebration of the Elves! But time is of the essence. Will she find the right spell in time?

    Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!