click here to start

Summer Reading: Click Here to Start


Age range: Middle grades

I just need to approach it like any other game: as a set of problems to be solved. So what if it looks like my great-uncle’s apartment? It’s just another game, and I’m going to beat it.

Ted loves games. So when he figures out that his inheritance from his great-uncle is actually the beginning of a real-life escape-the-room game, he’s determined to solve the puzzle his uncle has left for him. With the help of his best bud Caleb and new friend Isabel, Ted tackles a series of puzzles that bring him closer to his uncle’s hidden treasure—but Ted and his friends aren’t the only ones in pursuit of Great-Uncle Ted’s long-hidden secret, and Ted’s about to run into real-life trouble that his gaming skills might not be able to get him out of.

Click Here to Start was so much fun. And not just for gamers—the book winks at writers including Henry James and Dashiell Hammett, sneaks in some fascinating bits of U.S. history, and features a genuinely diverse main character. (I especially liked the way the book included historical details—like the Japanese-American soldiers who fought in World War II while their families at home were sent to internment camps—without a whiff of gratuitous education. Everything in the book fuels the story.) Ted, half-Jewish and half-Hawaiian, is a likable, relatable 12-year-old, more interested in gaming than school, where he has no interest in competing with his off-to-Harvard big sister. He’s brilliant when it comes to escape-the-room games, but he relies on Caleb, Isabel, and some handy Internet research to fill in the blanks for non-gaming details.

But it’s the pace of this book that I think makes it so great—this is a middle grades book, but it has the kind of plot twists and rhythm you typically get from a YA thriller. The book never settles down into a predictable path—though you probably suspect that Ted and his friends will win the day, there are lots of surprises along the way. And while some of the twists require a little suspension of disbelief (who made the personalized escape-the-room games that lead Ted to key clues?), you probably won’t want to slow down long enough to quibble about them. Like Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, Click Here to Start is a classic adventure story that works because it pulls the reader into the adventure, too. Put it on your library list—I bet you won’t be sorry.


(If you’re playing summer reading bingo, this one counts as a book with a blue cover or a book published in 2016.)

Stuff We Like :: 4.8.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

What a whirlwind week! We got back from the beach, launched our new subscription system, and got the spring issue of the magazine out. Now I think I need a spring break to recover from my spring break.

around the web

I’ve had some issues with identifying as a Southerner in my life, but I’ve always been thankful to have a handy second-person plural pronoun to pull out. Thanks, y’all.

I apologize in advance for the giant time suck that is this Tumblr imagining the life of a Muggle IT guy at Hogwarts. (But it’s hilariously awesome!)

Further proof that librarians are the greatest people in the world.

I am a little bummed that my first fictional crush (Jeff from A Solitary Blue, if you want to know) didn’t make the list, but you know you want to read about what your first fictional crush says about you.

Relevant to my interests: How to be a Tudor by Hillary Mantel in the London Review of Books (That’s practically Amy bingo if you work knitting in somewhere)


at home/school/life

at the magazine: Our spring issue is out, and I think it’s so great! 

on the blog: Get inspired with ideas for every single day of National Poetry Month. (We're also looking for a couple of new bloggers to add their voices to the blog.)

on instagram: Gratuitous beach photo


reading list

Thanks to Suzanne, my son is completely obsessing over Ottoline and the Yellow Cat. (She’s got all the Chris Riddell-illustrated books you need on your shelves in her column in the spring issue.) Also on his night table: The Warriors Greystripe's Adventures manga trilogy

My daughter refuses to give back my advanced reader copy of Click Here to Start, so I’m assuming it must be good. (She’s comparing it to Ready Player One.)

I love books about women in research science, so I was happy to pick up a copy of Lab Girl, a memoir by research scientist Hope Jahren.


at home

We took a road trip to Tybee Island to get a little beach time. I was worried about the weather, but it was actually perfect—warm enough to play in the water and read in the sand. (I navigated the terrain fairly well, but there were a few places where I was balancing on all three of my family members. My mom bought me some super-supportive sandals, though, which proved invaluable.)

I’ve been wanting to knit a summery little sweater, and I think Helene may be just the ticket.

Jason and I watched Mr. Robot in a couple of big binge sessions. Have you seen this show? It’s so weird and completely engrossing. (I am a sucker for an unreliable narrator, though. Also for Christian Slater, who is basically J.D. from Heathers-turned-hacker in this show.)