Middle Grade Spy Stories

Spy Stories

The British gave us James Bond and, as it turns out, most of the current children’s spy books. Go figure. The Alex Rider series is king of the pack followed by upcoming faves Spy School and The Genius Files. Prepare yourself for some major laughs, because these books pack the humor.

Alex Rider: Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz (series)

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When Alex’s uncle suspiciously dies, he is recruited by the British government to finish his mission. He is trained in spy tactics and given cool gadgets then sent to the headquarters of Herod Sayles. Sayles is planning to distribute the Stormbreaker computer to schools around London which will have deadly consequences if he isn’t stopped.

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (series)

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Other than math skills Ben Ripley doesn’t have any talents that make him worthy of placement in a top-secret CIA training school. It’s even more obvious when he almost dies at the hands of an assassin soon after arriving. If it weren’t for the gorgeous director’s daughter agreeing to help him, he would hightail it out of there.

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman (series)

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Twins Coke and Pepsi have been recruited by an organization that wants to put kids in charge of solving the world’s problems. That would be fine, if someone else didn’t want them dead. Luckily their mom has planned a coast to coast RV trip to the weird museums and parks across America.

N.E.R.D.S by Michael Buckley (series)

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Jackson is the most popular kid in his school until he gets braces and drops to the bottom in popularity. Even the nerds don’t want him around after all the bullying he put them through. When he stumbles on their secret spy headquarters under the school, he joins their ranks and gets his weakness (braces) turned into a superpower.

Codename Zero by Chris Rylander (series)

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Carson pulls pranks to spice up his boring North Dakota life. When he receives a package and is instructed not to open it, he can’t stop himself. He trips a self-destruct alarm and has 48 hours to get it to Mr. Jensen without the teachers or principal getting wind of it.

The League of Unexceptional Children by Gitty Daneshvari (series)

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Jonathan and Shelley are unexceptional in every way. They are so unremarkable that no one remembers their names or having met them. This makes them perfect spy recruits. The vice-president has been kidnapped, secret codes are at risk and the United States is on the verge of total chaos unless Johno and Shells can find the kidnapper.

School for S.P.I.E.S: Playing with Fire by Bruce Hale (series)

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Max has just screwed up another foster care placement, so he’s being placed in an orphanage. But this isn’t your average orphanage. It’s a spy training school. Max learns that not only is his dad not dead, but he’s a spy. Max makes it his mission to break out of the orphanage and find his dad.

Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein (series)

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Bridget’s adoptive family has forgotten it’s her birthday. All is not lost when she receives a mysterious package on her porch. The contents don’t make sense. Cell phone that doesn’t work. Tictac candies. Lip balm. Turns out her biological dad is a famous spy and he has sent her these spy gadgets in the hopes she will join him.

The Ministry of S.U.I.T.S. by Paul Gamble (series)

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Get ready for some over-the-top absurdity. Jack and Trudy have just been recruited by the Ministry of Unusual and Impossible Things (SUITS). All the creatures you don’t believe in, such as dinosaurs, werewolves, pirates do exist. Jack and Trudy will encounter them as they try to figure out who is stealing all the oddball kids.

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Middle Grade Mysteries

mysteries

Look at the covers on these books! There’s never been a better time to be a kid if you love books. This is a well rounded group of mysteries. For the reluctant reader there’s Home Sweet Motel and Space Case. For fans of the Westing Game, there’s The Greenglass House and Winterhouse. For fans of Lemony Snicket, there’s Pseudonymous Bosch. For fans of geocaching there’s The Book Scavenger. For fans of books set in the south there’s Three Times Lucky. Lastly, for those who love an eccentric group of kids working together, there’s The Candymakers and The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (series)

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When 11-year-old Mo was a baby, she washed up in the small Southern town of Tupelo Landing in a basket during a hurricane. The Colonel, who owns the only restaurant in town, took her in and raised her. As summer vacation begins, a local man is murdered. Mo, along with her best friend Dale, are determined to find the murderer. Told in the quirky, precocious, very Southern voice of Mo.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford (series)

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Milo lives with his parents in an old hotel called Greenglass House. They don’t usually have guests over Christmas break, but this year people start showing up one after another. Before they know it, guests are acting strangely and things are missing. When they begin telling stories around the fire, they start to learn the connection they all have to the hotel.

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass (series)

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Logan’s family owns one of the candy factoires that is sponsoring four kids to the annual candy invention contest. Logan, Miles, Daisy and Philip arrive at the factory for two days of candy making to prepare for the contest. All of them have a secret and are going to be surprised by what they find out about the other contestants.

Winterhouse by Ben Guterson

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Elizabeth’s unkind aunt and uncle have shipped her off to the Winterhouse hotel for Christmas break while they take a vacation. Right away she realizes that this hotel is going to provide ample opportunities for fun, beginning with the grand library. Everyone seems to be looking for a particular book, and by all indicators, it’s the same book Elizabeth stole from the library.

The Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (series)

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Emily loves to play a geocaching type game where people hide books, post clues, and find books. Unfortunately, the creator of the game, has been shot by a couple of thugs looking for a book in his possession. Emily inadvertently finds the book without realizing its significance, until the thugs are now after her.

Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (series)

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Four exceptionally bright and eccentric children pass a difficult test and are consequently recruited by Mr. Benedict to go undercover at the Learning Center for the Very Enlightened to figure out Mr. Curtain’s plot to use mind control to take over the world. This one is still extremely popular 10 years after its release.

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs (series)

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Dash thought he won the lottery when his scientist parents were selected to work on the new moon base. In reality, it’s anything but luxury and boring as heck. When one of the scientists is found dead outside the airlock, Dash suspects murder. His boring life turns exciting as he races to find the killer.

Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein (series)

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P.T. lives with his mother and grandfather in a Florida motel that is facing foreclosure. He comes up with a marketing plan to save the motel, but it’s not enough. When a couple of criminals show up at the hotel looking for a treasure, P.T. thinks he has found a solution to his grandfather’s money problems.

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (series)

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This is one of those books where the narrator talks to the reader. It makes for a humorous read. When Cass and her friend Max-Ernest investigate a house of a recently deceased magician, they steal a notebook. A mysterious couple is in search of the same notebook. Cass wants to know what they are up to, so when they kidnap a classmate, Cass plans to save him.

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Middle Grade Scary Books

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Some kids just love a great scare, so I’m always on the lookout for books about haunted houses, ghosts and creepy characters who lurk. Mary Downing Hahn and Dan Poblocki have become the staples in this genre, but with the popularity of series, Grabenstein and Carman are definitely worth reading.  These books are my favorites.

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman (series)

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There’s a mystery in Skeleton Creek surrounding a freak accident at a mining operation that’s long been abandoned. Ryan and Sarah are determined to get to the bottom of it. When Ryan is injured during one of their jaunts to dig up clues, his parents forbid the friends from seeing each other. While Ryan recovers, Sarah explores on her own, taking videos and sending them to Ryan via the internet. Spooky.

Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac (sequel)

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Molly’s family has suddenly gone missing. When a man claiming to be her uncle shows up, Molly reluctantly moves in with him. Immediately he creeps her out. He watches her. He looks emaciated. He locks her in her room at night. She didn’t possibly think the legend of the Skeleton Man could be true. Is she paranoid or is the Skeleton Man after her? Short and scary.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty (series)

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Serafina lives in the basement of the Biltmore Estate with her father, the mansion’s electrician. One night she witnesses a girl being kidnapped by a mysterious man in a black cloak. The man surrounds her with his cloak and she vanishes. One by one kids are vanishing and Serafina might be next unless she figures out who the terrifying man is and what he wants.

The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein (series)

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Zack’s family has just moved back to his father’s hometown and right away things are weird. There’s something sinister about the tree in their backyard that is close to the intersection where a truck and bus collided in a tragic accident many years ago. Ghosts seem to haunt this intersection, unable to rest, and one of them is not nice. Who is the mean women who puts flowers at the tree and what is the connection to Zack’s family?

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

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Tessa is not happy about her new move to Chicago. Worse, she’s creeped out by all the weird things happening in the new house. Doors slamming. Mysterious drawings. But when her brother’s doll cries real tears, she knows she has to figure out who’s trying to communicate with her and what happened in that house.

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

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Harper’s family has just moved into a new house and things start to get weird fast. Her brother’s imaginary friend doesn’t seem very friendly and she fears he might be possessed by a spirit. When she begins researching the history of the house, she learns that it has a unsettling past. It’s the kids version of The Amityville Horror.

The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki

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When Neil and his sister visit their aunts for the summer, the first thing Neil wants to do is explore the infamous abandoned mental hospital to see if Nurse Janet haunts it as people say. Along with their new friend Wesley, they break in and get totally spooked. They decide to do some research to learn more about Graylock Hospital, but Neil gets the sense that a ghost of Graylock has latched on to him.

Took by Mary Downing Hahn

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Mary Downing Hahn found her niche in ghost stories. She has written quite a few and this is her most recent. When Daniel’s family moves to a new town in West Virginia, he begins hearing strange stories about a ghost witch called Old Auntie who steals a child every 50 years. At first he doesn’t believe but when his sister goes missing he thinks maybe she is the latest victim.

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

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Molly can’t believe her luck when she and her younger brother Kip are hired to take care of Windsor Mansion. It’s a bit run down and the family are peculiar, but she needs a job. Oddest of all is the strange man who enters the house every night, leaving muddy footprints behind. This certainly has something to do with the tree around which the house is built. Then there’s the nightmares. What’s happening in this house?