American Girl Publishing

danger at the zoo: a kit mystery, american girl mysteries

Agatha Award Nominee for Best Children’s/Young Adult Mystery
— Malice Domestic

"With equal parts suspense and intrigue, Danger at the Zoo will hold middle grade readers' imaginations until its swift and satisfying conclusion."
— Ohio Library Association

"Those who love 'American Girl' will be clamoring for it."
School Library Journal


This is Kathleen's fourth mystery for American Girl, and her nineth published book. It has consistently been one of her most popular. It is written for readers age 9 and up who enjoy stories about Kit Kittredge and her life during the Great Depression. 

Story Description

Kit Kittredge is back, in a mystery that takes place at the Cincinnati Zoo! Kit lands a summer job writing a children's column for her local newspaper and looks for story ideas at the Cincinnati Zoo where her friend Stirling works as a guide and her old friend Will, the hobo, has a job cleaning cages.

As Kit noses around, she stumbles into some strange activities in the monkey house. Meanwhile, Kit begins to notice small things missing at home too. It's not long before Will looks like the logical suspect in both places. Can Kit clear her friend--and get a good story in the bargain? Fireworks fly as Kit's mystery is solved at the zoo's grand Fourth of July spectacular.

This book includes a richly illustrated "Peak Into The Past" essay. Originally released as a 192-page book in softcover and hardcover formats, it is now also available in electronic versions for both the Barnes and Noble Nook and the Amazon Kindle.

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst writes award-winning mysteries and historical fiction for adults and young readers. Her work has earned numerous honors, including multiple Edgar and Agatha mystery award nominations, and an Emmy for children's educational programming.

To date, readers have purchased over one million printed, electronic, and audio copies of Kathleen's twenty-six published books. more>>

Related Blog Posts

Enjoy the author's insights about the story, characters, and settings.

The Stories Behind The Story

Photo of a 1930's postcard showing Susie the Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. I was working at my computer one day when my editor from American Girl called to ask if I’d like to try writing a mystery about Kit.  I was excited about the idea, but a little nervous too.... more>>

Author's Note

Researching a novel can be hard work.  For this one, I had to spend a day visiting the Cincinnatti Zoo!  Don’t you feel sorry for me?  …No, I didn’t think so.

I chose to write a mystery that was partly set at a zoo because I love animals.  This is my bestselling book—so far, anyway—so I think lots of readers must love animals too!  This story is about more than fun times.  It’s about loyalty, and trust, and friendship.  It’s about a girl smart and brave enough to look for answers in times of trouble.  I hope you enjoy it! 

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Monkey House Video

Much of Danger In The Zoo takes place at the Cincinnati Zoo. Key scenes in the book are set in what in 1934 was called the Monkey House. It still survives and can be visited. This video tells about the building's history and renovation.  PLAY.

Cincinnati Zoo - Historic Monkey House Renovation

Kit's World 1934

To see a bigger copy of this illustration showing Kit Kittredge running an errand in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1934, click on the image below.

Kit Kitteridge's World - Cincinnati Ohio - 1934


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