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Mysteries Lurking Ahead for Middle School

By: Katie Lynch | July 29, 2021 |

Mysteries Lurking Ahead

We all love the thrill of searching for clues, hunting for evidence and—most importantly, solving the mystery before the author presents you with the key clue to crack the case. Plus, what’s better than telling yourself that you figured it out?

Escape into a Great Book

We can all agree, being in middle school is hard work. Between school, sports, spending time with friends, and navigating being treated more like an adult, middle grade students have a lot to deal with. And—that's where great books come in. A page-turning mystery is the perfect way to help these young readers escape from the pressures of reality, and into the problem-solving sleuth they’ve always wanted to be.

Why Mystery Books?

Mysteries are the perfect way to get reluctant middle grade readers excited about a story. Reading books with family or friends helps to build bonds and can bring readers more in-depth into the story than they otherwise might go, by exploring clues and patterns that their friends have found. Searching for clues and solving mysteries also helps to develop young readers’ problem-solving skills, and creates pattern recognition as well as deeper attention to detail, aiding in comprehension and developing the imagination.

Editor's Choice Mystery Picks.

JLG’s editors search high and low for some of the best middle grade books to read. Here, you can see some of JLG’s upcoming picks in the mystery genre! Plus, you can get our top upcoming mystery book picks and more when you subscribe to any of JLG’s Middle Grade categories.

JLG's Top Mysteries

The Ghoul Next Door
By Cullen Bunn illustrated by Cat Farris
Subscription category: Graphic Novels Middle Plus (Grades 5-8)
Shipping to subscribers for September 2021

Eleven-year-old Grey lives in the legend-haunted New England town of Ander’s Landing, and he can’t help but feel like a pair of eyes is watching his every move. He discovers odd, gruesome bits and pieces from the graveyard that are left for him as gifts, like art carved from bones or jewelry made from (hopefully not human) remains. Soon, Grey is caught up in something bigger than he could ever have imagined. He finds himself drawn into a strange mystery involving a race of reclusive subterranean creatures—ghouls, the eaters of the dead!

By Gordon Korman
Subscription category: High Interest Middle Plus (Grades 5-8)
Shipping to subscribers for October 2021

Link, Michael, and Dana live in a quiet town. But it's woken up very quickly when someone sneaks into school and vandalizes it with a swastika.
Nobody can believe it. How could such a symbol of hate end up in the middle of their school? Who would do such a thing?
Because Michael was the first person to see it, he's the first suspect. Because Link is one of the most popular guys in school, everyone's looking to him to figure it out. And because Dana's the only Jewish girl in the whole town, everyone's treating her more like an outsider than ever.
The mystery deepens as more swastikas begin to appear. Some students decide to fight back and start a project to bring people together instead of dividing them further. The closer Link, Michael, and Dana get to the truth, the more there is to face-not just the crimes of the present, but the crimes of the past.

Jail Break at Alcatraz: Frank Morris and the Anglin Brothers’ Great Escape: Unsolved Case Files
By Tom Sullivan
Subscription category: High-Interest Nonfiction Middle Plus (grades 5-8)
Shipping to subscribers for October 2021

In 1962, Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin devised one of the most involved and innovative plans to escape Alcatraz, a prison on an island in the San Francisco Bay, known for housing some of the country’s most dangerous criminals. Right under the noses of the guards they cut holes in their cell walls, crafted fake heads out of papier-maché as decoys, and constructed a raft out of raincoats, then successfully vanished one night. But after decades of false leads and dead ends, the fate of these escapees remains a mystery.

The Doll House
By Charis Cotter
Subscription category: Mystery Middle Plus (grades 5-8)
Shipping to subscribers for October 2021

Alice’s world is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, and they’ve cancelled their yearly cottage trip—the one thing that gets Alice through the school year. Instead, Alice and her mom are heading to some small town where Alice’s mom will be a live-in nurse to a rich elderly lady.
The house is huge, imposing and spooky, and everything inside is meticulously kept and perfect—not a fun place to spend the summer. Things start to get weird when Alice finds a dollhouse in the attic that’s an exact replica of the house she’s living in. Then she wakes up to find a girl asleep next to her in her bed—a girl who looks a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse…

Ophie’s Ghosts
By Justina Ireland
Subscription category: Mystery Middle Plus (grades 5-8)
Shipping to subscribers for September 2021

Ophelia Harrison and her family used to live in a small house in the Georgia countryside. But that was before the night in November 1922 and the cruel act that took her home and her father from her. Which just happened to be the same night that Ophie learned she can see ghosts.
Now Ophie and her mother are stuck living in Pittsburgh with relatives they barely know. In the hopes of earning enough money to get their own place, Mama has gotten Ophie a job as a maid in the old manor house where she works. Daffodil Manor, like the wealthy Caruthers family who owns it, is haunted by memories and prejudices of the past—and, as Ophie discovers, ghosts as well. Ghosts who have their own loves and hatreds and hungers and desires, ghosts who have wronged others and ghosts who have themselves been wronged.

Patient Zero: Solving the Mystery of Deadly Epidemics
By Marilee Peters
Subscription category: High-Interest Nonfiction Middle Plus (grades 5-8)
Shipping to subscribers for August 2021

More people have died in disease epidemics than in wars or other disasters, but the process of identifying these diseases and determining how they spread is often a terrifying gamble. Epidemiologists have been ignored, mocked, or silenced all while trying to protect the population and identify “patient zero”—the first person to have contracted the disease, and a key piece in solving the epidemic puzzle.

Time for Thrills!

Such thrilling books are coming to JLG this fall! We can’t wait for these titles to hit your shelves and your readers’ hands. Perfect for reaching reluctant readers, these mysteries are great for solo sleuthing and group discoveries—no matter how they’re reading your middle graders are sure to crack the case!

Need subscription guidance? Get support from a JLG rep today!

About Junior Library Guild
Junior Library Guild is the subscription box solution for the modern librarian: A completely customizable collection-development service based 100% on your preferences, your readers’ interests, and your library’s budget. Offering 80+ genre and reading-level subscription categories, JLG titles are curated by our renowned editorial team who select only the top 3% of new releases for our collection, so you can trust JLG to bring top-quality books to your library that will engage and appeal to your readers.



Katie Lynch

Marketing Content Writer
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