May is the American Library Association Mystery Month, so I decided to feature some fantastic children’s mystery books as part of my Maker Monday activities. For each book, I created a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) building challenges. Participants each got a bag filled with specific building materials, commonplace items you’d find at a library, to complete the challenge.

Support materials are available. They include labels for bags, challenge cards and a one-sheet page describing each book or series.

39 Clues by various authors

After their grandmother dies, Amy and Dan Cahill discover that they are part of the most powerful family in history. The source of this power is hidden in 39 Clues scattered around the world. Amy, Dan, and other Cahills are given a choice: Take a million dollars and walk away or compete to find all the Clues. In addition to the books, you can play along online!

STEM Challenge: In The Maze of Bones, our heroes, Amy and Dan Cahill, travel all over the world collecting clues. At the end of the book one, they go to Paris to solve a final mystery. Your challenge: Build the Eiffel Tower out of “bones” (toothpicks).

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Kyle Keeley is the class clown and a huge fan of all games–board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the construction of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot as one of twelve kids invited for an overnight sleepover in the library, hosted by Mr. Lemoncello and riddled with lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route!

STEM Challenge: In Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, our hero Kyle Keeley is locked in a state-of-the-art library and must solve puzzles to get out. Your challenge: Build a model library using old puzzle pieces!

A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy

Welcome to summer camp for detectives The kids can’t wait to spend a week following clues and learning about the science of crime solving. Soon all the campers are working on a mystery. But while Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose are figuring out their part of the puzzle, they stumble onto something suspicious. Could a real crime be happening at detective camp?

STEM Challenge: In the A to Z Mysteries, The Absent Author, Dink, Josh, and Ruth suspect that a famous mystery writer named Wallis Wallace was kidnapped from a book signing. Your challenge: Build a bookstore out of an old book!

Geronimo Stilton “by” Geronimo Stilton

Who is Geronimo Stilton? Why, that’s me! I run a newspaper, but my true passion is writing tales of adventure. Here on Mouse Island, my books are all bestsellers! What’s that? You’ve never read one? Well, my books are full of fun. They are whisker-licking-good stories, and that’s a promise!

STEM Challenge: In The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid, our hero and newspaper owner Geronimo Stilton’s plane crashes and he ends up trapped in an ancient pyramid. Your challenge: Build a pyramid and a plane out of newspaper.

Cam Jansen Mysteries by David A. Adler

Each mystery features Cam—the fifth-grade sleuth with the photographic memory—who solves the case with the help of her best friend, Eric. Perfect for beginning chapter book readers, the Cam Jansen series continues to be a bestseller after over thirty years.

STEM Challenge: In Cam Jansen and the Ghostly Mystery, money is being stolen by a ghost at a concert hall. What’s really going on? Your challenge: Build a concert hall out of old CDs and DVDs.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

STEM Challenge: In The Westing Game, Sunset Towers is a new apartment building on Lake Michigan, but only certain people are being offered the opportunity to live there. Why? Your challenge: Build the tallest apartment building you can out of playing cards.

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