On the 12th January 1976, Agatha Christie died at Wallingford in Oxfordshire. Forty years on, people are still enjoying her work; a new adaptation of 'And Then There Were None' was on television this Christmas, for example.
Children enjoy a good detective/ mystery story as much as adults do. Older works like Enid Blyton's 'Five Find-Outers' series and Malcolm Saville's 'Lone Pine' series are still popular, but there is such a wealth of choice for today's readers! Here are a FEW of my favourites -with female detectives. This is not to say that they are 'girl' books in the slightest- or that they don't have convincing male characters, but I had to start somewhere. Male detective post to follow!
The 'Poppy Fields Murder Mysteries; by Tanya Landman. (Walker Books)
Great fun, these books are a quick, manageable read with satisfying conclusions. Poppy and her friend, Graham are appealing characters and the mysteries they solve can be gruesome and scary in places, but every child I have recommended this series to has loved them!
One reason these are so successful is the humour that comes through - even in the grisly bits! Try 'Mondays are Murder' - the first in the series- and I think you'll be hooked!
Mariella Mysteries written and illustrated by Kate Pankhurst (Orion Children's Books)
Written as a journal with 'case notes' and extracts from the 'Super Sleuth's Handbook' included, these books are perfect for slightly younger readers as the balance of text and illustration is just right. Mariella is a quirky young lady who knows her own mind, but is not the only strong character in the stories, showing that people have different strengths to offer.
Children love the mixture of page styles, fonts and illustrations. With a good dollop of humour to help the story along, these books offer a satisfying read.
Wings and Co: The Fairy Detective Agency written by Sally Gardner, illustrated by David Roberts (Orion Children's Books)
On inheriting an abandoned shop, Emily Vole uncovers a magic world. With a talking cat called Fidget and a fairy detective called Buster, Emily sets out to solve mysteries.
Strong characters and fabulous illustrations make these an enjoyable read with plenty of humour. These stories offer mystery and magic as well, making them different to the others, and very addictive! Once you've read one, you'll find yourself reaching for the next...
Ruby Redfort by Lauren Child (Harper Collins)
Clarice Bean's favourite detective stories are now available to us all! Code-cracking genius, Ruby Redfort, is a thirteen year old secret agent. With Hitch, the butler, she works for 'Spectrum', a crime-busting organisation, solving crimes and gets into - and out of- scrapes!
Pacey and full action (and humour!), these books are great for KS2 children. One of my class was reading the latest volume in class and exploded with laughter- much to her embarrassment- as she was enjoying it so much! That says it all.
Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries by Robin Stevens (Random House)
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong decide to set up a secret detective agency at their school, but struggle to find any interesting or challenging mysteries to investigate. However, this changes when Hazel discovers the science mistress lying dead in the gym...
Thus begins their series of adventures. Strong, likeable characters and great plots make these compelling reads! I particularly like the style of writing in this series- never did cake and boarding school seem so appealing! Make sure you have plenty of time available when you start one of these as you might find you can't put it down!
The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine (Egmont)
An excellent story! This book was fully reviewed last year as it was long listed for our book awards (please see reviews section), but I love it so much, I couldn't leave it off this list!
So- which is your favourite?!