We Recommend: Shocking Chestnut Edition!

Another edition of We Recommend, in which we do our very best to
solve book-related questions, needs, and other miscellany, and then
turn them over to you, the readers, who really solve them. Need help
finding the right book? E-mail
us with some information about your reader, likes and dislikes, and
anything else, and we'll do our best. Now, on to our current surprising challenge!

We have talked before
about the, um, reluctance of children to accept their parents' suggestions.
And so, with a heavy sense of irony, I offer you the most recent
book-requester: Chestnut.

This is an eight-year-old who has lately really been hitting her
reading stride. Novels, biographies, poetry, you name it, she's been gobbling it up
with a hungry enjoyment it's a pleasure to witness. Lately, she's been
on a run with The Box-Car Children. And so, she asks:

Does anyone know
of any mysteries that are, in her words, "like the Box-Car children,
but different?" Also: not too scary.

For what it's worth, I recommended Harriet the Spy. But then again, I'm her mother, so who's going to listen to what I say?
You, on the other hand, are faceless people across an electronic gulf, and as such, utterly trustworthy. So suggest away!

22 thoughts on “We Recommend: Shocking Chestnut Edition!

  1. I’m sure she’s probably already read them but I really liked Elizabeth Enright’s “Gone Away Lake” and “Return to Gone Away” but they are less mystery-detective and rather mystery-problem solving…

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  2. Did she read Spiderweb for two? It has a mystery/puzzle to solve in it, but it’s not the first in the series. And another vote for Gone Away Lake. I adored those. She may be a tad young for it, but I remember loving a book called The Root Cellar. There wasn’t a mystery, per se, but there was a sort of ghost so there was definitely a sense of mystery.

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  3. I haven’t read the Boxcar Children, but here are some non-mysteries I enjoyed around her age. Has she read Noel Streatfield’s books? I loved them. Also Alcott’s Eight Cousins and the follow-up, The Secret Garden, Misty of Chincoteague (and the others by the same author).
    Good luck, Chestnut!

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  4. Has she read the Trixie Belden books? I remember moving on to those after reading the Boxcar Children, lo these many years ago. If I were close to where you live, I would drop off a huge box of Trixie Belden books that I (ahem) just happen to have still lying around on the shelf…

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  5. Nancy Farmer – The Ear, the Eye and the Arm? Might still be too hard.
    I remember from when I was a kid the Three Investigators/Jupiter Jones mysteries. They were a series as well, not sure if they’re still in print.
    Also from the way back machine, The Case of the Elevator Duck and Something Queer at the…
    And the usual suspects: Geronimo Stilton, A to Z mysteries, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, blah, blah, blah. Hope you find something you like, Chestnut.

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  6. Perhaps Elizabeth Goudge’s Little White Horse.
    Gillian Avery’s The Warden’s Niece, though that may be hard to find.
    Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents isn’t a mystery but she might like it.
    Ooooh, ooooh. How about the Miss Bianca books? Miss Bianca, The Rescuers, The Turret.
    I’ll keep thinking.

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  7. Boxcar Children is old-fashioned, so I’m thinking of other things with an old-fashioned feel, like the Great Brain books or things by Eleanor Estes. Adding in mysteries is tough though. There’s Nate the Great and Encyclopedia Brown, but those are really different. And there are all the chapter book series mysteries like A to Z Mysteries and the Capitol Mysteries, but again, they’re not that great. She could try the old versions of Nancy Drew. I totally agree with Harriet the Spy, by the way!
    There are books with elements of mystery that aren’t mysteries per se. Maybe From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? Or The Secret Garden? Or maybe The Penderwicks? Or Roxie and the Hooligans?

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  8. I recommend Harriet the Spy too, and now there are sequels, written, I believe, by a different author, so I don’t know how good they are.
    How about The Dark is Rising series? Too scary? Too old? I might not have enjoyed those til I was a couple of years older, but she could consider the idea.
    I assume Harry Potter has already been done?
    Encyclopedia Brown is great but might be too young for her. If he’s not, then Cam Jansen is a newly discovered favorite in our house, for about the same age group as E.B. I believe.
    We were discussing the Melendy books a few posts ago on this blog (The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake) – they’re not exactly mysteries, but she’s the perfect age for them, and they have an old-fashioned feel that’s not so different from the Boxcar Children.
    Please, let us know what she ends up liking!

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  9. I second the Trixie Belden books! I read those around the same time I was into the Boxcar children. Also Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, if she hasn’t read those already.
    She could also try the Famous Five series, by Enid Blyton (Five Run Away Together is the one that comes to mind). A few kind of scary things happen in those books, but nothing too terrifying, and there’s always an explanation in the end.

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  10. My similarly aged daughter has very much enjoyed 2 things in that vein:
    1) The Sisters Grimm. Loved, loved, loved these. I haven’t read them but from the way she was reading them, there must have been something suspenseful going on.
    2) Nancy Drew, but, as Farrar stated above, only the older ones. (She was very vocal about her dislike for the newer Nancy.)

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  11. Unfortunately, another childhood series is out of print, but if she can find “The Happy Hollisters” series at the library she might really enjoy that. This was my sister’s favorite series when she was little.

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  12. How about the A-Z Mysteries? By Ron Roy, I think. And if those are too old for her he has also written the Capitol Mysteries (about the step-daughter of the president and her friend solving mysteries). My 8 year old LOVED both these series.

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  13. I’m back with another suggestion, since my precocious six year old reader has just started raving about “Sam, Dog Detective” I don’t know about the quality, but I can attest to the engaging nature.

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  14. I was going to say Half Magic by Edward Eager. Also Five Children and It has kind of the same feel, I think. For something more modern, what about Bailey School Kids. Those are formulaic, whooo boy, and also a little lower reading level, but they are worth a chuckle in small doses.

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  15. When my sister was about that age and reading the Boxcar Children, her other favourite mystery series was the Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard. They do have Christian themes, if that tips the scale one way or the other for Chestnut.

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  16. So glad to see other Trixie Belden readers here. I don’t meet a lot of them! But I loved those books, and I think they have a similar feel to the Boxcar Children.

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  17. Enid Blyton did some “Adventure” books. My favorite was always the Valley of Adventure. I also support the Trixie Belden books.

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