The bold and brilliant Nancy Drew turns 90 in 2020! While I grew up reading the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories (first published in 1930 and volumes onward for decades), the series has undergone a number of major transformations. These spin-offs include the modern Nancy Drew Diaries, a graphic novel series, as well as simpler story versions like the Nancy Drew and the Crew Clue featuring Nancy at only eight years old. Here's a clue — even in grade school and in illustration format, little Nancy is still a marvel at solving mysteries.
In every new series, Nancy Drew has remained a positive role model: a strong, independent and fearless teen detective who keeps cool-headed under pressure. Given the popularity of the mystery genre for independent readers in elementary and middle school grades, we’ve uncovered read-alikes that embody the Nancy Drew-ness that we parents know and love — and grew up on!
Each of the mystery series unveiled below showcases a resourceful female heroine with a knack for truth-seeking, leading your reader to unravel riddles and suspense alongside her.
1. Cam Jansen is a girl detective you need to know. Blessed with a photographic memory, she's curious and assertive — qualities every junior detective needs to solve the crime. This is a great transitional series for children ready to move on from easy-to-read titles. Start with book one in the series by David A. Adler: Cam Jansen #1: The Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds.
2. Alice Jones is fearless—as well as a clever—math whizz. In The Impossible Clue, she's recruited to solve the disappearance of a local scientist who vanished while working to create a highly-prized invisibility suit. Is this a case of science gone wrong or is something more sinister responsible for Dr. Learner’s disappearance?
3. In The Mastermind Plot, eleven-year-old Zanna Snow is the resourceful young female detective starring in the Edwardian-based Suzanna Snow mystery series by Angie Frazier. She dreams of being just like her Uncle Bruce, a famous detective, and with plenty of determination, curiosity, and observational skills she is sure to succeed.
4. Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang is the first in this series of unique graphic novels about awesome computer programming kids who use their coding skills to unlock mysteries. Hopper is a 12-year-old Chinese American girl who moves to a new school only to discover that it’s kind of creepy and mysterious. Settling in is hard but Hopper is befriended by Eni, and together they set out to uncover the puzzling nature of their strange, new school.
5. In The 39 Clues series by Rick Riordan, orphans Amy and Dan race their less than well-meaning relatives across the globe to uncover the 39 clues that their recently deceased grandmother has left to a valuable treasure. Typical squabbling siblings, Amy and Dan must work together to find and figure out the clues while keeping one step ahead of the competition. Kick off the adventure with book one, The Maze of Bones.
6. The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley is an exciting adventure mystery series set within a community of well-known fairytale characters. Sent to live with their grandmother (who they believed to be dead) following the disappearance of their parents, sisters Daphne and Sabrina Grimm investigate what exactly happened to their parents.
7. The first in a trilogy by Kate Messner, Capture the Flag tells the story of Anna, Jose, and Henry when they're stuck in the Washington, DC airport during a snowstorm, and discover that the original American flag has been stolen from the Smithsonian! Anna, an aspiring news reporter, is determined to crack the crime with the help of her friends.
Can't get enough? Delve into Mystery & Suspense books for all ages at the Scholastic Store Online.