6 Children Series That Gave Me Who-Dun-It Fever


Mysteries have always been important to me; some of you will already know that I’m a huge mystery/Sherlock Holmes fan! Since my parents didn’t allow fantasy books, like Narnia, into the house at all when I grew up (anything supernatural or ghostly in entertainment was just not acceptable) the majority of my reading as a child was mysteries.

I fell in LOVE with the genre before I was ten years old and before I discovered Sherlock Holmes (who is my favorite fictional character of all time.)

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While I’ve never read the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, there were several children series that I read from early readers into my early teens that made the genre my favorite, and a staple in my present entertainment. I have a great love for mystery TV shows like Hercule Poirot,  Jessica Fletcher, Miss Marple, Charlie Chan, and Peter Whimsy, to the many stories and theatrical versions of Sherlock Holmes, to my current favorite movies Clue and Murder by Death (GO WATCH THOSE NOW)…

…and I can pin the blame on these influential children’s series!

6. Cam Jansen by David A. Adler

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I started off with Cam very early, thanks to the The Young Cam Jansen series for beginning readers, so Cam was one of my first detectives. I especially liked the longer stories when I was older, like eight or nine, because the mysteries were more detailed. With her photographic memory and her best friend Eric always by her side, I got to watch Cam catch shoplifters and diamond thieves from my living room couch. I vividly remember one particular story when she and Eric went in search of a museum’s stolen dinosaur bone; there was a thrilling chase scene and everything!

5. Three Cousins Detective Club by Elspeth Campbell Murphy.

three cousins detective club

Ah, yes. I had a fondness for these because I was close to my own cousins, so it was fun to read about other cousins solving mysteries. My parents bought the complete set because they were Christian-based, though thankfully not unbearably drenched in it (a true rarity!). What I remember best about these is that each story had a zany sense of humor, and how each book switched between the three cousins’ perspective. The set was very large, so it was hard to get bored with them; I often read these aloud to my younger sister. ❤

4. Nate The Great by Majorie Weinman Sharmat.

Nate the Great

Nate was possibly my very first detective; I know I was reading them when I was about five or six. Narrated by pancake-“addicted” Nate himself (who’s look is inspired off Sherlock Holmes), who had an enjoyably sarcastic voice, the stories were told with quirky drawings accompanied by even quirkier characters: I shall never forget strange Rosamond and her cats, Oliver who followed people, and the sweet neighbor girl Annie with her huge scary dog, Fang. The mysteries were very simple but told in a straightforward and memorable way. I recently bought most of the series to share with my younger brother and I intend to read these to my future children as they learn to read. Oh how I love my memories of Nate the Great!

3. American Girl’s History Mystery Series.

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I read these between the ages of twelve and fifteen and they were wonderful. Growing up in a overprotected homeschool family, I had a very small social circle. So I was fascinated by each new girl and how they saw life in their time period: Some were rebellious, others were timid, others curious, and others calmly brave. These stories also inspired my imagination as I started writing books, which makes them extra special to me. Plus, they were just really well written mysteries with excellent plots and suspense. (I listened to my audio book of The Night Flyers forever until we lost the last cassette. 😄 )

2. The Boxcar Children created by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

Boxcar Children

Five years ago I could have easily claimed that I’d read every single Boxcar Children book–at the time being approximately 110 books–many times! I loved the Alden children because they were polite, nice kids always solving a new mystery with their plucky make-do spirit. When I was between the ages of eight and fourteen, they were almost like an extra set of siblings and I got to travel with them into radio stations, medieval reenactments, mansions, and trains. And… even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to, I smuggled the few ghostly ones home from the library anyway, because I knew they always turned out to be not so ghostly after all. Yes, I was that type of kid. 😄 I would love to own the full set one day…

1. The Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald J. Sobol.

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The Encyclopedia Brown series is very easily number one here because of the impact it had on my life. Not only did I love the fun variety of quirky mysteries (seriously, these were fun!) but the colorful characters inspired an onslaught of fanfiction novels that set me down the path of novel-writing at the age of 12. I am only as good of a writer now because of these characters and my own six very long books featuring Sobol’s characters (with my many original ones.) Encyclopedia Brown not only fueled my love for mysteries but also fueled my passion for writing which truly changed my life. I would be such an incredibly different person without these stories. ❤

How I love a good mystery story! I think I’m gonna rewatch Clue tonight…again. 😄

How about you? Did you read any of these growing up? Do you enjoy a good mystery?

~Jamie

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12 thoughts on “6 Children Series That Gave Me Who-Dun-It Fever

  1. I’ve read “Nate the Great and the Sticky Case” (part of an anthology of children’s stories), most of the Boxcar Children, probably one of the American Girl mysteries, and quite possibly every Encyclopedia Brown book EVER. Bugs Meany, Sally Kimball, Sheriff Brown and his calm demeanor…man, I loved those books.

    Have you read any of Dorothy Sayers’ “Lord Peter Wimsey” novels? If you like Sherlock Holmes, you might like Wimsey. I recommend starting with short stories and “Murder Must Advertise.”

    ALSO, speaking of short stories, G.K. Chesterton’s “Father Brown” stories are EXCELLENT.

    1. OMG OMG OMG SOMEONE ELSE KNOWS ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN EXISTS. *screams* omg so you’ll get this: my fanfiction was Encyclopedia Brown and The Tigers becoming friends and morphing the “Tigers” with the “Detective Agency” idea. Bugs was my villain turned main hero and that was my writing life growing up (I’m literraly still writing stories with these characters!) OMG SOMEONE KNOWS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. I still love those original stories: I loved Sally Kimball, she was so awesome. And remember Wilford Wiggins and his schemes?! 😄

      I’ve not read anything for Lord Peter Wimsey but I’ve seen several British adaptions of the stories and they were quite good! I’ll definitely look into the short stories though! I’ve also not read Father Brown but I should! The name reminds me of Focus on the Family Radio THeaters series Father Gilbert, which I still adore. Thanks for the recommendation! ❤

      ~Jamie

      1. AAAAHHHHH THAT’S SUCH AN EXCELLENT IDEA!! Picture Bugs still struggling sometimes with bullying, and trying to be a better leader–picture him fighting cowardice and lying and trying to be a leader worthy of respect! Is this the fanfic that turned into your angsty zombie novel??

        Ooh, never heard of Father Gilbert! I’ll have to go check it out! And for a fellow mystery fan, any time 😉

      2. omg now you know too much. 😄 But yes, my zombie novel was a spin off/alternate ending book I wrote with the characters all adults; in my blog posts I refer to Bugs with his “official” name that I gave him when I was thirteen, which is Baxter. 😄 I’m actually writing another spin-off/alternating ending right now that is the complete opposite of that book…so I’m still getting A LOT of practice and use out of Sobol’s characters! ❤

        Father Gilbert is great! Plus, very decent Christian themes! 😀

        ~Jamie

  2. All the nostalgia feels! I remember reading every one of these, except for the Three Cousins Detective Club. They are definitely what started my love for mystery. I even started a detective agency with my friends when I was nine lol. Oh, the good old days!

    Agatha Christie is one of the main mystery writers that I read, now. Her stories are such classics. One of my favorites is The Man in the Brown Suit–if you haven’t read it, you totally should. The ending was a total surprise!!

    Now I really want to watch Clue, too. Such a good movie.

    ~Emily

    1. Ahhh that is awesome!!!! And WOW! I’m so glad someone is familiar with most of these! You even know Cam Jansen!!! ❤ 😀

      I love Agatha Christie but I've not read as much of her work as I've wanted too. I'll DEFINITELY check out The Man in the Brown Suit! Have you read her book Murder on the Orient Express?! One of my very favorites!

      CLUE. ❤ Wadsworth is my favorite! 😄

      ~Jamie

      1. Actually, I don’t think I have read Murder on the Orient Express. For some reason, I was thinking I did, but the more I think about it, the more I doubt myself lol. I’ll have to give that one a try!

  3. We read the Boxcar Children and Encyclopedia Brown in elementary school and I picked up a few Nancy Drew’s but I’ve never been a fan of reading mysteries for some reason. I’ve always loved fantasy and romance and history, even as a younger reader lol. There was one set of mystery kid books I loved though but I can’t remember what they were called, they all had outrageous names like “The Lunch Lady is Cupid” and “The Coach is a Vampire” lol 😀

    1. But see, that’s what makes us all so unique and special, by having different tastes! 😄 LOL that one series sounds like fun. 😄

      ~Jamie

  4. I loved Nate the Great! And the American Girl books too! Ahh this brings back so many memories! 😀 Great post!

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