Tasty challenges for preteen Poirots, middle-grade Miss Marples, and “Jigsaw Jones” grads.



In the spirit of Donald Sobol, creator of Encyclopedia Brown, 20 writers for young people offer short mysteries for budding sleuths to tackle…solutions in the back.

The MacGuffins range from the usual suspects (missing artworks, fundraising proceeds, and valuable jewelry) to more-unusual engines of mystery, such as whether a supposed ghost is real or not and who stomped out the giant letters “F-A-R-T” in the snow. In each case, one kid or a small group winkles out clues, identifies suspects, and then gathers for a denouement. None of these entries are no-brainers, being either chock full of red herrings, fiendishly tricky, or reliant on coded messages or, for that “ghost,” a knowledge of atmospheric physics. Kate Milford’s locked-room–style camp tale will require some serious thinking outside the box while Steve Hockensmith’s “Possum Man and Janet,” in which a fifth grader reluctantly accompanies her truly dim-bulb superhero uncle on a caper, is one of several entries that are entertaining even without the requisite deductive wizardry. Readers can check their own solutions at the end, where the contributors have laid out all the clues and reasoning. Though character unsurprisingly takes a back seat to mise-en-scène, names and details hint at some cultural and racial diversity in the casts, and Bruce Hale’s young sherlock, Gabriel “Gridlock” Jones, uses a wheelchair.

Tasty challenges for preteen Poirots, middle-grade Miss Marples, and “Jigsaw Jones” grads. (Mystery/short stories. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288420-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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