The Mail Order Mystery machine is up and running

After months of turning cranks, stoking fires, pushing buttons and pulling levers, the Mail Order Mystery Machine is up and running. We are nervous and so very excited. And while the machine bangs and clatters in the background we would like to take a moment to answer a few of the questions that we most often hear: 1) what is a Mail Order Mystery? and 2) where did we get the idea?

A Mail Order Mystery is a story for kids, eight or nine and up, that unfolds through a series of installments that come in the mail. The envelopes could come from anyone, from anywhere, from any time. They could be long-lost relatives, museum curators or pirates and they could be sending letters, newspaper articles, top-secret files, made-up magazines or hand-written notes. They could be sending keys, locks, maps and clues of all kinds. There are puzzles to solve and codes to crack. All is revealed in the final mailing, a grand finale that includes an artifact or collection of keepsakes unique enough to be a cherished memento of the Mail Order Mystery experience.

As for where we got the idea to make extraordinary stories for extraordinary kids, we will start by saying that our kids are not always extraordinary. They spend a lot of time fighting, playing video games and fighting while playing video games. Every once in awhile we hit a wall and yank the screens.  

Once a month we shut off the screens for a week. No screen week is not some Carefully Crafted Parenting Strategy but an all-or nothing reaction to infuriating behaviour. The first day is brutal. The kids roll on the floor and shriek. They try to break us but we do not give in. And then after a few days something strange starts to happen. The kids fight less and play more. They take out their craft supplies. They make things out of cardboard. They draw pictures. They build stuff. They read books. They ask questions. We put on our lab coats, grab the clip boards and study them like they are robot monkeys from outer space. What are they doing now? What are they going to do next? What if we give them X? What do they think of Y and Z?

When no screen week is over they go back to their bickering, video-game playing ways and we pile the cardboard monsters in the corner of the basement, pick the bits of tape off the hardwood floors and analyze our data. And these are our conclusions.

Kids love stories. Kids love to learn. Kids love to solve puzzles. Kids love to make connections. Kids love to be absorbed and engaged. Kids love adventure. And kids really love getting things in the mail.

And that is where we got the idea for Mail Order Mystery.

We hope you love it as much as we do.