Pepper’s Rules for Secret Sleuthing

Available now from Simon & Schuster, Books for Young Readers

Nancy Drew meets Harriet the Spy in this action-packed and heartfelt debut middle grade following an overzealous amateur sleuth as she investigates a shocking family secret—and unravels the mystery of her developing feelings for girls.

Pepper's Rules for Secret Sleuthing cvr

Rule One: Your loyalty is to the case.

Amateur detective Pepper Blouse has always held true to this rule, even if it meant pushing people away. But when the results of Pepper’s latest case cost her any hope of the girl she likes returning her feelings, she decides that maybe she should lay low for a while.

That is, until her Great Aunt Florence passes away under mysterious circumstances. And even though her dad insists there’s nothing to investigate, Pepper can’t just ignore rule fourteen: Trust your gut.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that could’ve prepared her for this.

Maybe it’s time to stop playing by the rules.

Praise for PEPPER

American Library Association 2022 Rainbow List Selection

Kansas NEA Reading Circle List Junior Title

“Exciting and fast-paced… A fun debut that is notable for its thematic depth and queer characters.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A great modern read-a-like for Harriet the Spy and other mystery classics like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.” – School Library Journal

“Irrepressible and lovable, Pepper joins the ranks of the best kid sleuths—and shows that sometimes the heart is the toughest mystery.” – Eliot Schrefer, author of National Book Award Finalist Endangered

“This Nancy-Drew-style sleuthing tale with a modern sensibility will delight middle grade readers craving suspense, mystery and puzzles. A page-turner packed with wisdom and heart.” – Barbara Dee, author of Star-Crossed

“McDonald has crafted a debut chock full of heart. Pepper isn’t just a queer Nancy Drew—she’s a relatable and lovable character all her own.” – Nicole Melleby, author of Hurricane Season

“A modern take on a classic genre. Pepper is a hero kids will root for.” – Eric Bell, author of Alan Cole is Not a Coward

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