What Is the Best Age for a Mail Order Mystery?
One question we get asked a lot is: what is the best age for a Mail Order Mystery? Since we launched our newest mystery this fall (The Case of the Missing Bigfoot) we now have four mysteries to choose from. Here is how we would break each of them down by age:
Treasure Hunt: age 6+
The pirate-themed Treasure Hunt is an exciting story involving long-lost pirate treasure and double-crossing pirates. The story has a strong appeal to kids 6 - 10. (Younger kids may need some help with the reading.) The narrative is engaging but not overly complex and this is the age when kids take shovels to the backyard to bury their treasure, imagine trips to remote islands and tell all their friends about their great pirate ancestor. When it comes to kids 11 and older, it may depend on what the kid is into.
Enchanted Slumber: age 6+
The fairy-tale themed Enchanted Slumber is a magical story involving an unlikely cast of characters. A knight, a troll, a librarian, a dragon, and the child receiving the mystery must come together to wake a princess who has been sleeping for almost 700 years. Along the way they learn about the power of love and the importance of friendship. Younger kids love this story for the wax-sealed parchment missions, the cipher-etched necklaces and the wonderful characters. But 11-12 year olds can appreciate the complexities of the story, a twisting take on the old fairy tales, with powerful themes around love, friendship and stewardship of the earth.
Spies, Lies and Serious Bad Guys: age 9+
The espionage-themed Spies, Lies and Serious Bad Guys contains complex ciphers and clues within clues; it is challenging enough that we get messages from adults who are stumped, and younger kids may need help along the way. This mystery begins with an acceptance letter to a top-secret spy school, but the kid receiving the mystery quickly becomes involved in a madcap mission to find a missing spy and stop an evil villain. Kids receive plenty of gadgets along the way, and at the end they get a very cool safe disguised as a book that they can only open once they crack a secret code.
The Case of the Missing Bigfoot: ages 9+
The Case of the Missing Bigfoot is a detective-themed whodunnit that takes place in an old mansion not far from where you live. When the contents of a safe at the mansion go missing, the kid receiving the mystery is called in to help solve the case. Each installment contains a number of clues including newspaper photos, magazines, crime scene photos, fingerprint reports, interview transcripts and more. For kids who are into hidden animals like Bigfoot, Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster and so on, there is a lot to discover about cryptozoology that goes beyond the “monster hunting” trend. And the canvas field bag that comes in the final installment is SO COOL that almost everyone on the Mail Order Mystery team has claimed one for their own. We recommend this mystery for kids age 9 and up because it is substantial, elaborate and involves quite a bit of reading. But we only launched this mystery in September, so we would love to hear more feedback from you.
Ages 13+: We get a lot of inquiries from people asking if older kids would like Mail Order Mysteries. You just have to walk into a room full of 13 year olds to know how difficult this question is to answer. These kids vary drastically in terms of interests, maturity and willingness to engage in any kind of activity. So when it comes to 13 year olds, we have to put the ball back in your court. We can say, however, that for a kid who may be into Spies, or solving ciphers and clues, Spies, Lies and Serious Bad Guys is definitely challenging enough. And for a kid into detective stuff or cryptozoology and hidden animals, the Case of the Missing Bigfoot is very cool.
Age 4 - 5: We are not saying there are no five year olds out there who would be game to follow along with a Mail Order Mystery, but for the most part we think 4 or 5 is probably too young.
If you have any questions we are always happy to help. Just contact us.