This incredible novel is available in the school library again, but I expect it will be checked out soon! How I managed to grab it for a quick reread is an unfathomable mystery, but a happy opportunity for me to revisit Jandy Nelson’s second book. Nelson is an incredible talent, and well-deserving of the praise she, and this imaginative, artistic novel, have received. This is a young adult book in terms of characters and setting, but the language and conviction are definitely skewed for older, retrospective readers.
Jude and Noah are twins, and each tells half of the story in this novel. Noah’s story describes age 13, when each sibling begins branching out and staking a claim – for art, for romance, for themselves. Jude’s story is set three years later, and by age 16 both twins have seen their worlds dramatically change. They’re barely speaking, but somewhere in the space between them are the answers and truths to bridge their fractured universes. A good novel convinces you to like the protagonists. In reading this novel – no exaggeration! – I fell in love with the characters. Nelson captures the voices and personalities of these people so well that it feels like the high school story you never had, but would have jumped for without another thought.
In addition to the characterization and powerful themes, this novel has electric language. The figurative voice – invisible museums and kaleidoscopic connections – is in the upper echelon of great writers. It’s John Green on hyperdrive, soaked in Neruda and Whitman. That said, Nelson is of her own, and you will undoubtedly fall hard for her, Noah, and Jude (especially Jude). Get ahead of the cultural momentum and read this book before it explodes onto the scene!
“The Game is Afoot!” – as you will be reminded every ten minutes or so in your exploration of the latest traveling exhibit to hit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I had the privilege to visit on Halloween this year, and will do my best to sell this experience briefly and with only the facts. It’s the sequel to Power of Poison, with an added, overt literary connection. What’s more, this exhibit also is quite hands-on, with enough diversity for any visitor. So read on, dear traveler, for the evidence of a great adventure and fabulous rewards with Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective!
This is a ticketed exhibit, meaning there is an extra fee besides admission as well as a certain time-slot you are to attend within. Taking up a sprawling space within this incredible building, the Sherlock Holmes exhibit is cross-curricular, diabolical delight. Literary history and influence, forensics and the influential experiments of Victorian science, pop culture studies, and hands-on experimentation are all wrapped up in good, old-fashioned mystery. Each guest gets a notebook to record their observations, learning more about the culture and social strata of Victorian London along the way. The notebook itself is packed with clues and winking allusions to the great detective.
The first section is literary, filled with interesting artifacts and media covering inspiration and influence – including Poe, serial publication, high profile murder, and the emblematic energies of the British Empire at its height. Following this area, searchers find themselves in a reproduction of 221 B Baker Street. Here, details and easter eggs from the many cases of Holmes and Watson are hidden throughout. The next room holds the highlight for many visitors – the case study. Investigators are asked, by Holmes, to help solve a mystery involving five deductive/inductive exercises – hands-on stations pertaining to the bullet, the seed, the footprints, the newspaper, and the suspicion of murder. You may occasionally be
harassed helped by overzealous museum guides – some dressed in Victorian personas – trying to move the investigation along. To avoid some of the crowds, arriving early is a must, and you might have more space to your own sleuthing without considerate peeping by that most troublesome occurrence – other people.
Following your (hopefully) accurate conclusions, the mystery is solved and visitors get one last peek at their favorite incarnations of Holmes, from Basil Rathbone and The Great Mouse Detective to Downey Jr., Cumberbatch, and Lucy Liu’s Watson. The gift shop is also quite inviting, but you might check with me to see what I already purchased so you won’t have to (basically the whole store). There are, of course, great sales-pitches here for any of your teachers’ field trip needs, but if unable to go as a class you have until the end of January to make your own visit. There is also a teens-only event on November 21st: Sherlockian Clue: Museum Edition. Extra credit will rain down upon you after any visit (and maybe a project grade for the BritLit seniors), but especially for anyone who can attend this special event. In summary, this is definitely one of the coolest exhibits to ever reach our area, and you can revisit Power of Poison while you’re there! Investigate Sherlock before it vanishes into the fog of the gaslamps. Elementary, indeed.