Secret Room Literature
July 30, 2013 7:05 AM   Subscribe

We've built a small secret room in our house for our children to discover. One of the features in the room is a bookshelf where we're putting secret room themed books.

We've started to make a list of books, but haven't gotten too far beyond the obvious -- Alice in Wonderland, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Diamond in the Window. I'm fine with books that are not necessarily about secret rooms, but have some secret area element (The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or The Secret Garden or the Harry Potter books, for example). We're primarily looking for children's or YA literature. Suggestions?
posted by MarkAnd to Media & Arts (109 answers total) 206 users marked this as a favorite
How about a secret village? Gone Away Lake.
posted by apricot at 7:09 AM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

The Indian In The Cupboard - a boy discovers that when he locks his plastic toy Indians or army men or what-have-you in an old disused medicine cabinet in his house and leaves them there overnight, they come to life.

Lizard Music - a boy discovers that there is an invisible island off the coast in his hometown populated by sentient lizards whose television broadcasts sometimes bleed over into our own.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I definitely spent a lot of time shutting myself in the cramped, stuffed full linen closet in our hallway growing up, trying to feel the back wall for a secret door entrance. It has been YEARS since I read it, but I seem to recall this matching up with when I read Ten Kids No Pets.

The book Mandy is about a little girl who finds a secret cottage in the woods. Might sort of fit.
posted by phunniemee at 7:11 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Littles, The Secret of NIMH.

You are awesome, by the way.
posted by Specklet at 7:13 AM on July 30, 2013 [30 favorites]

I don't know if you want to introduce history or not (and I read these things as a young person), or not introduce these until they are older, but books that describe hiding in a secret part of house for survival and/or freedom, although it may not always be achieved. This would include books such as The Diary of Anne Frank or The House of Dries Drear (Underground Railroad).
posted by Wolfster at 7:14 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's a movie, but Eleanor's Secret is right up your alley. You could stash the DVD in there.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:15 AM on July 30, 2013

Best answer: The Borrowers
posted by florencetnoa at 7:16 AM on July 30, 2013 [8 favorites]

"Harriet the Spy," as I recall, would hide in dumbwaiters and such to check out her neighbors.
posted by xingcat at 7:22 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Secret Series.
posted by Garm at 7:22 AM on July 30, 2013

Also by Daniel Pinkwater is Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars which has a world that sort of exists on top of our world that you can sometimes see if you try in just the right way. You might also want to go the historical fiction route with a book like True North which is about the underground railroad which features a lot of secret passages.
posted by jessamyn at 7:23 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Out of curiosity: how did you make the secret room? I have been considering something similar.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:25 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The Velvet Room
posted by matildaben at 7:26 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Maze by Christopher Manson.

Also, please adopt me so I can be someone whose parents made a secret room for their kids. I am nice.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:28 AM on July 30, 2013 [27 favorites]

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase. I suspect there are probably other Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys / Bobbsey Twins with secret rooms.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:28 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

What a fantastic thing to do. How about The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit? Lots of secret rooms and passages revealed by magic, if I'm remembering it right.
posted by Cocodrillo at 7:29 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Phantom Tollbooth, possibly? The tollbooth isn't strictly secret, but I can see it fitting in with the theme, and besides it's basically the greatest book.

(You are so cool for doing this. My house's secret room just had my parents' hairy-armpit copy of The Joy of Sex.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:30 AM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

The Spiderwick Chronicles.

("I have a secret room" should be the new "I have a question about my cat." Pictures!)
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:30 AM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

Not YA, and more "secret world" than "secret room," but how about Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere?
posted by duffell at 7:35 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Three Investigators had a hideout in a junkyard that could only be accessed through secret passages.
posted by Quonab at 7:36 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The Egypt Game, also by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. And I agree, you are awesome for doing this.
posted by hungrybruno at 7:36 AM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]

The Halfmen of O by Maurice Gee is about a couple of teenagers who go through into a secret/different world. I'm not sure how old your kids are but I read it when I was probably about 12-13 and it's still one of my favourite books.
posted by shelleycat at 7:36 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You absolutely want Behind The Attic Wall.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:36 AM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Zilpha Keatley Snyder has a lot of books about hidden/secret things. The Velvet Room, mentioned above, is my favorite, and fits the theme the best. I also think The Changeling, Season of Ponies, and Libby on Wednesday would fit. Libby on Wednesday is about a reader, too.
posted by radioamy at 7:36 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

You weren't going to leave out Coraline, were you?
posted by tel3path at 7:39 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Phantom Tollbooth. A fantastic book that all kids should have. A bored boy gets a toy car and a tollbooth, and passes through it into strange lands of whimsy, puns, logic, math... just fabulous.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:39 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Sixty-Eight Rooms series.
posted by BibiRose at 7:41 AM on July 30, 2013

The Magic Treehouse books are pretty much exactly about this. Well, almost, and they're great very worthwhile books.
posted by alms at 7:41 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eleanor, Elizabeth is a book I really liked as a kid, in which a girl moves to an old family home, finds an diary written by an ancestor of some sort (it's been a while since I read it), and uses hints in the diary to find a secret cave.
posted by Coatlicue at 7:43 AM on July 30, 2013

And if it turns out you like NZ written books about teenagers going into alternate worlds then The Dreamhunter Duet two book series by Elizabeth Knox is also very good.
posted by shelleycat at 7:43 AM on July 30, 2013

Sadly, The Dragon in the Clock Box is out of print but if you can get one, do.
posted by BibiRose at 7:43 AM on July 30, 2013

Response by poster: These are great -- a bunch I'd read as a kid and forgotten all about. I've just remembered a John Bellairs book I loved, The House with a Clock in Its Walls.

I can post some pictures later -- thank you for all the kind words!
posted by MarkAnd at 7:52 AM on July 30, 2013 [11 favorites]

Madeleine L'Engle's books all feature some sort of secret universe.
posted by rensar at 7:56 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

A Wrinkle in Time! No childhood library is complete without it. (They travel to hidden planets that are only accessible through the bending of space-time.)
posted by divined by radio at 7:56 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Bridge to Terebithia
posted by jquinby at 7:57 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Mandie (different from the Mandy book mentioned above) series has some hidden room/tunnel/secret storylines and I used to love them growing up, especially because they took place in the NC mountains where I grew up.

You really are the coolest parents for doing this. I still fantasize about finding secret rooms.
posted by greta simone at 7:59 AM on July 30, 2013

Argh I was just about to link to the House with a Clock in Its Walls. One caveat: some evil copyeditor has republished these books without the original Edward Gorey illustrations, so try to get an older edition.
posted by susanvance at 7:59 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Linnets and Valerians doesn't have a secret chamber, but the whole book explores themes of hidden magic that may or may not exist if you know how to look.

ETA - would love to see pictures of the room when it's finished - what a lovely idea!
posted by Mchelly at 7:59 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's Snow Treasure - Norwegian children in WWII smuggle the bullion out of the Treasury using their sleds, right under the noses of the Wehrmacht. It has lots of secrets and codes and hiding in plain sight.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:07 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is such a great idea! Thank you for being awesome parents.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:09 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Mandy book was written by Julie Andrews.

The Secret Garden is another one of these.

The Secret Language was a book my sister and I read as kids. It's not a secret room, but it is a secret.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:09 AM on July 30, 2013

Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree series, perhaps?
posted by lwb at 8:10 AM on July 30, 2013

In the same line as Coraline, The Wolves in the Walls.
posted by canine epigram at 8:18 AM on July 30, 2013

Key to the Treasure is great in terms of clues that lead to a family treasure located somewhere in the house.

You mentioned A House With a Clock in Its Walls. You might also like some of the Johnny Dixon mysteries, many of which involve secret rooms. (Don't bother with any of them written after John Bellairs died: Brad Strickland is a pretender to the throne.)
posted by corey flood at 8:20 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was also going to suggest The Egypt Game.

The Machine Gunners is about children who create a secret fortress in Britain during World War II.
posted by Jahaza at 8:21 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mistress Mashem's Repose

Swallows and Amazons - wonderful series

Both of these don't have secret rooms but do have kids having adventures in secret places.

The Crystal Cave first in a wonderful series about Merlin and King Arthur - the cave is a hidden place in the hills where Merlin is taught.
posted by leslies at 8:31 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I came here to recommend The Borrowers and to tell you I love you.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:34 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

One the books could be big and dull and hardbound. Then inside it would be hollowed out to contain another book.
posted by squinty at 8:40 AM on July 30, 2013 [16 favorites]

The Giver and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry are excellent although the first deals with a dystopia (when I was a librarian and a YA bookseller this was a very popular book-for-kids-that-adults-loved. Particularly focuses on metaphorical secrets) and the second is about hiding form Nazis during WWII. Both won the Newbery Medal.

And while I am on secret-y, possibly serious or scary Newbery winners, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

Please feel free to adopt me. I will be in *counts on fingers* 37th grade next year. :)
posted by pointystick at 8:48 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom is an amazing biography. It's a pretty dark and based on a family's experiences hiding Jewish refugees during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and getting caught and punished for it. But I remember just drinking in the whole book in less than two days when I was 13 and had just read Anne Frank's diary.
posted by Alison at 8:49 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Tunnel of Hugsy Goode, about finding a secret entrance to a tunnel underneath a neighborhood, was a favorite of mine when I was a kid.

I came across a copy of the book a few years ago on a shelf at a restaurant in a different country we were visiting and they let me have it (we tipped them well in return!), and upon rereading as an adult, the story was so incredibly different than the story in my memory! There was enough similarity that I knew it was definitely that book, but wow I had a totally different experience reading it as a kid.
posted by telophase at 8:59 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another one! Grimbold's Other World is a book about the cat Grimbold, who introduces a boy named Muffler to the Night World, where magic abounds.
posted by telophase at 9:06 AM on July 30, 2013

All of the books in the Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright are wonderful, but the second, The Four-Story Mistake, is the one with the secret room. Get all of them, though.

I have a soft spot for Barbara Brooks Wallace's The Secret Summer of L.E.B., about a popular girl and an outcast boy creating a secret "summer house" in an old abandoned house in their town. Interesting story about middle-school group dynamics.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:08 AM on July 30, 2013

Mod note: I am excited that you are excited folks, but please be sure to read the question all the way through.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:10 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

In Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter those rascally Wilders were storing/hoarding/hiding wheat seeds behind a false wall.

In My Side of the Mountain the young protagonist lived in a hollowed out tree.
posted by kimberussell at 9:10 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

How about some YA non-fiction? Books about optical illusions, black holes, or things like that.
posted by Garm at 9:14 AM on July 30, 2013

You can't have a hidden room without some Sherlock Holmes. "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder," from The Return of Sherlock Holmes, has a man hiding out in a secret room. Any library like this should have all the Holmes stories!
posted by wdenton at 9:18 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Maybe a bit of a stretch, but what about Harold and the Purple Crayon? There's no secret room, but he does enter a whole world he conjures up.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:20 AM on July 30, 2013

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner. Involves escape from puritan England to a fairy realm.
posted by jph at 9:26 AM on July 30, 2013

You already mentioned The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but I recall that The Magician's Nephew mentions attic passages between row houses where the kids had a secret play space.
posted by dywypi at 9:37 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

The setting of The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers is pretty great. The city of the title is filled with books and literature, and built on top of a secret catacomb containing even more books. So you have a secret area concealing books -- kind of a neat synergy WRT what you're building.
posted by cog_nate at 9:43 AM on July 30, 2013

I loved the Magician's House books when I was a kid, which are all about secret rooms (each book is named after a secret place that the children in it find).

Also, you are amazing parents for doing this, it sounds incredibly cool, so well done.
posted by Ned G at 9:55 AM on July 30, 2013

Fog Magic is another book about the heroine going to a secret village in the past.

Speaking of movies, you might stash a copy of Brigadoon there as well (there is a death in it, so it's not good for really young kids, but otherwise it fits the theme.)
posted by gudrun at 9:57 AM on July 30, 2013

This is a brilliant idea. The Swallows and Amazons was mentioned above, and I second that, especially Swallowdale, which has a cave.

You should try to get older second hand versions of all these books, and hide fun things in the pages. Pressed flowers, notes, photos, maps, postcards.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:59 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It doesn't contain a secret area element per se, but Mr Kitkat suggested that you include Treasure Island to the bookcase. Make and tuck in a big treasure map that will fall out when you open the book. When kidlets find the map, it will lead them to some kind of secret treasure hidden elsewhere in your house.
posted by kitkatcathy at 10:00 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Dandelion Cottage isn't a secret place, as such, but the story is about four girls taking it over secretly and making it "theirs."
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 10:06 AM on July 30, 2013

Enid Blyton's Secret Seven series might be a good choice. Not a secret room per se, but a secret society for children complete with a meeting place, password and badges.
posted by jonnyploy at 10:08 AM on July 30, 2013

Tilly' s Moonlight Garden.
posted by BibiRose at 10:16 AM on July 30, 2013

The House of Dies Drear
posted by PSB at 10:20 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Boxcar Children's The Mystery Behind the Wall is another one.
posted by oceano at 10:21 AM on July 30, 2013

A Little Princess doesn't have a hidden room, but it does feature a room that has a lot of secrets. (Also, this is a wonderful project. Your kids are very lucky, and I am just a little bit envious.)
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:23 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Came to recommend the Borrowers, but someone already beat me to it. So:

Enid Blyton's Wishing Chair -- It's a little dated but I liked it growing up.
Diana Wynne Jones - Howl's Moving Castle -- Doesn't really deal in secrets but is a lovely book with lots of twists.
Possibly The Oz Books -- And L.Frank Baum has a lot of other low fantasy books.
The Never Ending Story -- Is about a secret world inside a book.

You are awesome parents, and, you've kind of given me a dream to do this for my future children one day too.
posted by Dimes at 10:25 AM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

There are so many Nancy Drew books that fit this theme; almost every house seems to have some kind of secret passage. I'd pull a whole selection of those together for them!

This is an amazing idea, by the way; I always wanted to knock out the wall between my two closets when I was a kid and make a secret passage.
posted by limeonaire at 10:31 AM on July 30, 2013

It doesn't contain a secret area element per se, but Mr Kitkat suggested that you include Treasure Island to the bookcase. Make and tuck in a big treasure map that will fall out when you open the book. When kidlets find the map, it will lead them to some kind of secret treasure hidden elsewhere in your house.

OR, give them Treasure Island + map, and the map will lead them to the secret room!
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:32 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

There aren't any secret rooms as I can recall, but The Westing Game would be a thematic fit, I think.

For lighter fare, I vaguely remember several of the Babysitter's Club Mysteries series having secret rooms/passages/staircases/things of that nature. I wouldn't prioritize them, they're a little outlandish and dated, but if you see some at the thrift store or something they were very entertaining.
posted by itsonreserve at 10:36 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, and along the lines of the "Secret Garden" kind of theme, The Doll in the Garden is a great choice that won multiple book awards.
posted by limeonaire at 10:36 AM on July 30, 2013

Two more suggestions from friends: Loretta Mason Potts, and The Dark is Rising sequence.
posted by telophase at 10:41 AM on July 30, 2013

Michelle Magorian's WW2 story Back Home features a girl who finds and decorates a house in the woods. Lucy M Boston's Green Knowe series takes place in an old Norman house with secret tunnels.
posted by Ballad of Peckham Rye at 10:55 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I was a little'un I loved Back Home by Michelle Magorian, because it's got a girl finding a secret house in the woods that she makes all homey using her awesome woodworking skills. It's set in England after WWII, about a British girl whose been evacuated to the US returning home.

Edit: OH JINX!
posted by tinwhiskers at 11:01 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

To riff on the theme of secret rooms, how about a book about two boys who discover secret planes of existence: Daniel Pinkwater's Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy From Mars? Wikipedia has a good plot summary.

It is literally my favorite book ever.

[Edited: Apologies, I missed Jessamyn's recommendation above.]
posted by cowboy_sally at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2013

Seconding some non-fiction. How about maze books and labyrinths, castles and more castles, also dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and mythical animals. What about some books on maps and navigating?

So. Many. Books.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:51 AM on July 30, 2013

All in Good Time and Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd - a girl takes the elevator in her apartment building and it takes her back to that same spot, just 80 years before. One of my favorites as a kid :) It's not quite secret-room but it sort of fits.

What a spectacular memory-making treasure of a thing to do, I have to say :)
posted by lemniskate at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2013

The Earthsea trilogy shouldn't be missed -- not explicitly about hidden mysteries, but very much about magic in the world. Aimed at young readers.
posted by acm at 12:30 PM on July 30, 2013

This is very old but has a great secret attic room with a magic great-grandmother found by following a golden thread: The Princess and the Goblin, George MacDonald.
posted by Cocodrillo at 12:36 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not quite a secret room, but the kids in The Curious Clubhouse have secret meetings in an abandoned house.
posted by JanetLand at 12:47 PM on July 30, 2013

First, The Borrowers!!

When I was a kid, my grandma got me this book and replaced some of the heads with my face and it was actually awesome: The Mystery of the Russian Ruby
I don't remember all the details, so I can't guarantee secret spaces... but it's a whodunnit, there's gotta be, right? It was a great well made, engaging book and can be read again and again.
posted by rubster at 12:58 PM on July 30, 2013

(I actually misread that the shelf with these themed books is where you'd hide the entrance to the secret room, so that only reading them would suddenly reveal a previously-just-imagined reality...)
I would definitely add some reality-bending domestic-spaces illustration volumes (Escher, Magritte, and Gorey come to mind). If films are allowed, Time Bandits, Jumanji and Being John Malkovich?
posted by progosk at 1:19 PM on July 30, 2013

Oh, and: Sendak's Where the wild things are, surely.
posted by progosk at 1:25 PM on July 30, 2013

Singularity by William Sleator.

Pratchett's Nome Trilogy aka The Bromeliad.
posted by Zed at 1:46 PM on July 30, 2013

I think that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe qualifies- Narnia's secret, isn't it?

Ditto The Neverending Story, which has an entire room of rooms of rooms, and a lot of passageways and stuff, and also its whole own world. Momo, by the same author, contains a secret room as well.

You are so awesome. So awesome.
posted by windykites at 2:39 PM on July 30, 2013

What a wonderful and amazing thing you are doing for your kids!!

My suggestion is Pierre Berton's The Secret World of Og. Berton was primarily known for his books on Canadian history, but he also wrote this wonderful book (illustrated by his daughter, Patsy) about a secret world under his children's playhouse. I read it for school when I was ten years old and I loved it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:57 PM on July 30, 2013

Would Tom's Midnight Garden count?
posted by Grangousier at 3:34 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Most of my favorites are taken so I will recommend the poorly named A Really Weird Summer.

I read it as a kid and it has stuck with me, so it has some value. I haven't re-read it as an adult, but I think I'll try to track it down.
posted by Duffington at 5:04 PM on July 30, 2013

Handbook for the Recently Deceased. It will make the retelling of the story more interesting as adults.
posted by Kale Slayer at 5:43 PM on July 30, 2013

Awesome idea!

Silver Snaffles by Primrose Cumming

From the first link:

Jenny, the heroine of Silver Snaffles, talks to Tattles the pony every day, and then, one day, he says: “Through the Dark Corner, and the password is Silver Snaffles.”
posted by SJustS at 5:48 PM on July 30, 2013

The Beginning Place by Ursula LeGuin, though the door between worlds is outdoors and it's a teen level book.
posted by Occula at 8:53 PM on July 30, 2013

The Castle in the Attic
posted by mattbucher at 9:19 AM on July 31, 2013

It's kind of obscure but Deborah's Secret Quest by Cecilia Falcon is about a schoolgirl who needs to find a secret passage in her ancestral home (which is now also her school) to prove that she should have inherited it. It's pretty old fashioned in an Enid Blyton way but includes lots of great intrigue and secrets.
posted by *becca* at 9:28 AM on July 31, 2013

Please give them Tuck Everlasting. It's about a secret spring that gives eternal life.
posted by SlyBevel at 9:39 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

What about Gordon Kormen's Bruno and Boots books? No secret rooms but lots of sneaking around!!!
posted by jazh at 1:09 PM on July 31, 2013

The Forgotten Door.
posted by JanetLand at 1:04 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can't find a link with a plot summary, but The Daughter of the Moon is about lighting a candle and entering a painting.
posted by JanetLand at 1:07 PM on August 1, 2013

You should write your own book that's about your children finding the secret room in your house and meeting some gruesome end (or maybe just spookily similar to your house and your children, if you don't want to traumatize them too much), get a bound copy printed via a self-publishing service (many of which have digital presses and print a single copy or a handful of copies affordably) and place it in among the real books.

Though since you have kids I suppose you probably don't have the spare time to write an entire book, so maybe commission someone else to do it.
posted by XMLicious at 8:30 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess.
posted by mippy at 4:09 AM on August 2, 2013

A former-children's-librarian friend suggests: Gregor the Overlander, and the Fablehaven series.
posted by vasi at 1:01 AM on August 6, 2013

What about non-fiction? I recall tons of books on how to be a spy geared toward kids. Or the Daring Book for Girls. Cryptography books?
posted by jander03 at 11:02 PM on August 8, 2013

I'll give a qualified recommendation to "Tightrope Walker" by Dorothy Gilman. In it, an introverted young woman solves a decades-old murder mystery by discovering the evidence hidden in the walls of the murder house. This book is more appropriate for young adults than children, because the protagonist loses her virginity during the course of the story.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:44 AM on August 11, 2013

It's not secret-room-ish, but they might thoroughly enjoy any of David Macaulay's books, especially The Way Things Work, which peels back the covers on all sorts of common objects so you can see the innards which are normally hidden.
posted by jquinby at 6:40 AM on August 11, 2013

Response by poster: So many great suggestions -- my wife and I (well, mostly my wife) have spent the last month reading secret room books.

There are some pictures of the room posted today on Apartment Therapy.

Thank you, everyone!
posted by MarkAnd at 10:00 AM on September 17, 2013 [17 favorites]

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