A great uncle dies, leaving a mysterious set of puzzles for his nerdy great-nephew to solve. Ted and his friends, Caleb and Isabel, have to sort through a hoarder’s stash of clues to get on the right path and find something which may be connected to Great Uncle Ted’s war years. And young Ted figures things out by using video game strategy to do it – something which Great Uncle Ted has foreseen enough to leave additional clues.
It’s an interesting premise. To be honest, though, there are moments where I had to suspend disbelief a little longer than I like. His dead great uncle foresaw or has a friend savvy enough to work out that the girl the kid doesn’t even know when the great uncle dies is going to be stuck in her house at a certain point in the game? Really? There’s probably a logical explanation I missed.
However, that’s small beans in the overall scheme of things. It’s a pretty wonderful middle grade adventure. The kids are just savvy enough to work some things out, but still mess up enough other things to not seem too smart for who they are. The characters snipe at each other. There are moments of getting in trouble and making mistakes too big to be ignored. All in all, it’s a pretty fun ride and will appeal to a lot of pre-teen readers. I’m hoping Denis Markell writes more for this age group.
If I could make one change, I might wish for a different cover. I guess they were going for a sort of old-school video game look. To me, it just seems a little dated, and dare I say it, uncool. (This is coming from a middle-aged Iowan, so I’m probably completely wrong on this.) I’d hate for kids to miss such a good read because of a cover that doesn’t call out to them.
Click Here to Start by Denis Markell