Click here to download Homecoming Homicide: A Teen Murder Mystery: (CC BY-NC 4.0)
At least, I like to think they are! One programming concept that has been perennially popular is the MURDER MYSTERY. Everyone likes to play detective, and everyone has a great time pretending to be on a cop show.
I design these to take about an hour of sleuthing. I know some people are successful at taking a break in the action to allow teens to have snacks and/or listen to the actors do their thing, but I have always had to program these in libraries where few of us could take time out to participate in the program. So what I’ve done here is to allow participants to stay on their desk or to keep working, and to be “discovered” in their area by the teen detectives (who are instructed not to interrupt them if they are assisting other customers!).
You’ll notice a few spelling errors and some other typos – sorry for that. I tried to use all CC licensed clip art; you might substitute something with more local flavor for your teens. I also tell them not to remove evidence, and that only applies to books or materials in the stacks. This specific mystery features a fun clue bag given to the teens, which they can take to the “Police Lab” for discovery. All you have to do is take a paper ream box, cover the inside in dark paper, stick a shadeless lamp in there with a black light bulb for illumination, and tell them to check their liquid Tide-soaked “swabs” for “blood.” Use your imagination! What else might they check with their fake Luminol?!
In other mysteries, I’ve included floral vials in the police file. Dump a little cheap red nail polish in there, and you have a “blood sample.” The props add to the realism and as simple as they are, give the program a little extra wow factor. This one features a crumpled “receipt” pointing out an interesting fact about the glamorous (and dead) Bianca… what other things might have been purchased that could add verisimilitude to your murder mystery?
Feel free to take this and use it as is, put your own spin on things, or use it as a template to write your own murder mystery. Just give me credit and don’t make money with it. I’m licensing it under CC BY-NC 4.0. If you’re a journalist or author and want to quote from it or otherwise reproduce it, please contact me. Otherwise, have fun and get to sleuthing!
My favorite time of year arrived… NEKLS Innovation Day! What a great time for libraries to get together and talk about their favorite technology, innovative services, and glimpse the horizon of our profession. The speakers were all so awesome! My contribution was a session on teen maker projects, and you can find my materials here:
Teen Maker Projects Handout
I brought samples of our fun projects, including some of my duds (hey, at least now you know what happens when you try to use Model Magic for a resin mold!) and encouraged everyone to try some new, fun ideas to make programming STEAM powered. Thanks to all who attended – I hope you’ll send me some pictures of the awesome things you’re doing in your libraries!
Hi everyone! Thanks so much for having me as a part of your inservice today. It was great to talk about awesome books with all of you! Find below my slides from the presentations:
Special shout out to those who stayed for a second round! Be sure to email me soon if you’d like to book a spring date with your school – I am always excited to share new and awesome books with your students, and tell them all about services at the public library.
We had SO MANY awesome books that we just couldn’t get through them all! I’ll post slides, notes, and links here so you can enjoy these in the comfort of your own home. Click here for my slides and here for my notes!
Amy’s done it again. This was hands down the most compelling galley I brought home with me from ALA – the story of a kid who is
dogged through adolescence by his childhood “participation” in a (fake) reality TV show not unlike Supernanny. Gerald is the “Crapper,” who defecated on tables, in handbags, and various Barbie accessories when he was a preschooler/elementary schooler. The British nanny (who isn’t who she seems) is brought to help Gerald & his two sisters when his mother writes a desperate letter to the show. Gerald’s dad is just as unhappy as the rest of them, and the whole family is miserable. We see Gerald’s mother struggle with a son she considers “retarded,” a younger sister who feels completely out of place, and an older sister whose behavior grows more and more erratic and disturbing with time.
We join Gerald long after the cameras were packed away and the lighting dismantled, but the show haunts him at every turn. His therapist has recommended boxing, but this is only encouraging Gerald’s violent tendencies. He’s invented a fantasy world called Gersday, where he can spend time doing only the nicest things with characters who are kind and sweet to him, but escaping to Gersday is getting harder and harder. As if that wasn’t enough, Gerald has met a compelling young lady at his afterschool job slinging hot dogs at the local coliseum. He figures that nobody’s going to want to date The Crapper – who’d want to be associated with that?
Through flashbacks mixed with present-day scenes, Gerald invites us into his world and shows us what it’s like to drown in the misconceptions of others. And honestly, that’s really what this book is about – the hidden stories behind carefully crafted narratives, public personas vs. private ones, and what happens when your expectations are shattered by a reality you didn’t want and didn’t ask for. Like Gerald’s therapist reminds him, we all project our own experiences and expectations on other people to a certain extent – whether it’s making assumptions about a reality TV show family or the new coworker in the next cube. As Gerald peels back the curtain on his experience, the reader starts discovering more and more of the truth behind the screen – and it’s both more and less shocking than you may expect. This is a a book right in step with our times, perfect for an age in which we grow closer and simultaneously further apart using screens and social media with the ability to edit our stories down to a version of the truth that skims the surface of our lives like a fancy veneer atop particle board furniture.
I anticipate many reality TV memoirs in the next ten years, as kids like the Duggars, Gosselins, SuperNanny families, and others age up to the point where they feel compelled to share their stories in another medium. Some will do it for money, sure, but others will do it so that people can hear more about what their shows didn’t show. I won’t be surprised if their stories are as compelling as Gerald’s.
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you delight in a bit of steampunky girl fun, then new student Sophronia’s misadventures at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality will definitely suit. Sophronia is fourteen, and just not all that interested in keeping a clean hanky on her person – she’d rather tear apart a bit of machinery or dirty her hands, and that simply won’t do. So her mother sends her off to a most unorthodox finishing school, where the girls learn how to turn their feminine wiles into intelligence-gathering, mechanical servants contrive to prevent dashing adventures, and the students dream fondly of the day they are able to poison their first husbands! Of course Sophronia is not able to simply apply herself to her studies. An unpleasant encounter with a group of flywaymen (highwaymen who use dirigibles, of course) on the way to school leads to an alliance between Sophronia & Dimity, both new students, and a suspicion that failing student Monique is not what she seems – a missing communications prototype is linked to Monique, and the twosome persist in attempting to discover the snooty older girl’s secret.
Filled with delightful puns and funny, light details about life in an alternate Victorian England filled with fascinating devices and mysterious alliances, you can recommend this book to fans of similar books like Fever Crumb, Sorcery & Cecelia, or A College of Magics. Fans of the Parasol Protectorate series (Carriger’s books for adult readers) will like this as an expansion of that world.
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