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Sherlock!

All the Sherlock Week posts in one place for you to easily get to them.

MG Lit Reading List for Sherlock Fans
YA Lit Reading List for Sherlock Fans
I am Sherlocked Program Outline/Craft Ideas
Discussing The Woman: Irene Adler
Discussing Sherlock Fanfiction
A Newbie Talks Sherlock and Elementary
Sherlock and the Case of the Diversity Problem
The Curious Case of the Doctor’s Wardrobe
On Loving Two Different Sherlocks, a guest post by…
On the BBC’s Sherlock: A Study in Character, a gue…
Sherlock Week: On Moriarty, a guest post by Jayla
A Newbie’s View on Sherlock, from guest poster Mar…
Sleuthing the Sleuth: Discussing The Sherlock Holm…
A Sherlock Holmes Themed Community Reading Event, …

Sleuthing the Sleuth: Discussing The Sherlock Holmes Handbook

I recently watched a fascinating discussion about Sherlock Holmes on PBS called How Sherlock Changed the World.  One of the interesting revelations the special maintains is that as the original Sherlock stories were being written they were in fact SCIENCE FICTION in that Doyle posited doing things with science to investigate and solve crimes that were not yet actually being done.  The science being written about in the Sherlock mysteries is akin to the nanotechnology that Michael Crichton and Michael Grant (the BZRK series) are writing about in the last ten years; in other words, it was just a tip of the ice berg.  In fact, Doyle’s writing helped take the concept of forensic science into the future.  Before the Doyle stories, eyewitness testimony or confessions were the primary method of solving crimes.

That was a fascinating revelation to me, the master of mystery may in fact have been dabbling in the art of science fiction with his use of science in not yet developed ways.  After watching years of forensic science procedurals and even seeing Sherlock’s thought processes represented visually in the BBC reboot of the show, it’s interesting to remember and explore just how revolutionary Sherlock’s investigation methods were for the time period in which the stories were written.

So I thought we would end Sherlock Week with one of our favorite topics: books.  What is a library without a books, right?  In 2009, Ransom Riggs wrote an interesting handbook on the great consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes.  And yes, I do mean THAT Ransom Riggs . . . before there was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (which is awesome and you should read because the sequel, Hollow City, comes out this month), there was a nonfiction look at Sherlock.  This is not a look at the BBC television show or the CBS reboot, but a look at the character, the stories, and his methods.  Some of the topics in The Sherlock Holmes Handbook include:

How to Use Deductive Reasoning

How to Analyze Fingerprints-Without Computers

How to Master a Dozen Disguises

How to Survive a Plunge over a Waterfall

There are illustrations, a look at Scotland Yard during the time period that the stories were written and set, and a ton of interesting trivia.

Riggs is apparently quite the Holmes aficionado and it was interesting to see the results of that interest and research poured out into this volume of awesome.  For teens looking for more background information in the classic Sherlock Holmes, this is a great read.

A Sherlock Holmes Themed Community Reading Event, a guest post by Anna Behm

My library is abuzz with all things Sherlock Holmes, but it has nothing (well, almost nothing) to do with the premiere of the third season of Sherlock. We just launched our first independent community reading event, Westmont Reads, and The Hound of the Baskervilles is our chosen book. And while it might be too soon to evaluate the overall successes and failures of the program, I’m pretty excited about what the team at Westmont has created so far. These are a few of of my particular favorites:



The entire library staff is involved and on board. We’re a medium­sized suburban library with eleven full time staff members and twenty­one part timers. We wanted the whole staff involved in Westmont Reads, so the first thing we did was open the book selection up to a vote. Once The Hound became the clear choice, all staff were encouraged to join a committee ­ programming, outreach, or marketing. Not only do we have a large pool of talent to draw from, but getting all staff involved has given everyone a stake in the success of the program.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wukf8vo6us0]

A staff created video trailer for the program builds interest.

We created something unique for our patrons. The Hound of the Baskervilles is in the public domain and available for free as an ebook from sites like Project Gutenberg (and easy to load onto a flash drive and give to patrons), and inexpensive as a paperback. We decided to give away copies of The Hound of the Baskervilles for free. A local artist who happens to work in the circulation department (again, drawing from that pool of talent) designed a custom dust jacket for the book. She also lent her talents to the design of the Westmont Reads website, posters, bookmarks, and swag (I’m talking some of the COOLEST one ­inch buttons on the planet).


The library uses Facebook to interact and conduct trivia events. Showing the prize right in the post is a great way to build interest!


We planned tons of activities and events for all ages. Programming was by far the most popular staff committee, and it shows. From lectures and book discussions for our adult patrons, to mystery game nights and The Hound themed LEGO adventures for families, to special storytimes and tea parties for children, and forensics training and special volunteer opportunities for teens ­ there’s a little bit of something for everyone going on at the Westmont Library this winter. Many of the events have not taken place yet (Westmont Reads runs through February), but I’m impressed by the range of activities the staff has come up with. Staff even planned a Westmont Reads event for themselves ­ dressing up as their favorite character from the book on Halloween.

The community is involved in a variety of ways. The outreach committee solicited a variety of partnerships with local businesses and organizations. Many businesses agreed to hang posters promoting Westmont Reads. Some locations let us drop off copies of The Hound for their customers. Other businesses acted as destinations in our community scavenger hunt. We also fostered a relationship with the local humane society ­ they agreed to come to the library to give a talk about rescue dogs, and the library set up a donation bin so that patrons could help provide them with much needed supplies. The local community theatre group is even getting in on the fun ­ they are scheduled to perform a Sherlock Holmes radio play at the library after hours in two weeks.

Aligning Westmont Reads with the new season of Sherlock was just a coincidence (though if

anyone were to ask, I’d be tempted to say that yes, we really are that hip­ and­ with ­it at the WPL). Personally I am a big fan of the BBC series, and am thrilled to have an excuse to incorporate it into Westmont Reads. It’s certainly a testament to Arthur Conan Doyle and his work that Sherlock Holmes remains such an engaging presence in popular culture. I am more than happy to ride those coattails, and enjoy everything Sherlock Holmes, for a few weeks more. 


Anna Behm is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Westmont Public Library in Westmont, Illinois.

On Loving Two Different Sherlocks, a guest post by Rachelia

I’m relatively new to the various Sherlock fandoms, having first watched series 1 – 3 of the BBC’s Sherlock around this time last year, and all of Elementary this fall. What I lack in history with these shows I like to think I make up in passion, haha!

From what I’ve garnered from browsing Tumblr tags and seeing various internet discussions is that there seems to be some kind of rule that you must choose between the BBC or Elementary version of Sherlock. There is some kind of feud between fans, often with BBC purists dismissing criticisms of the shows (particularly in regards to issues pertaining to gender and race), and insisting that is the far superior show and interpretation of Sherlock (example).

I don’t necessarily understand this either/or line that seems to have been drawn in the sand, as I have come to love both these modern TV adaptations of Sherlock. I’m going to talk a little about what keeps me coming back for more from these shows, and I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers along the way!


BBC

Sherlock (BBC)

Brief description: Set in London, England the famous Sherlock and his doctor partner John Watson solve cases using both the sleuth’s power of deduction and the conveniences of modern technology.  

Cinematography & Setting

I absolutely love the aesthetics of the BBC version of Sherlock. Sleek, modern, and fast-paced, it’s very cinematic in style. The dark tones reflect the criminals they are in pursuit of, and the mysteries they are solving.

The city itself also sort of becomes a character of its own, as it lends so much to this interpretation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. From the skyline with the London Eye in the opening credits to Sherlock and Watson called to Buckingham Palace there is no escaping that this is a BBC show through and through. My inner anglophile wholeheartedly approves, and I get immense homesickness for my study abroad days in the UK while watching the show!


John!Lock Pairing

I can’t deny that I ship Sherlock and John. They have such chemistry on screen! But honestly, even without the John!Lock fic that I can’t seem to put down, I love their friendship. They both ground each other: John is Sherlock’s connection to the outside world, the world that exists outside of his brain; and Sherlock is John’s stabilizer, helping him through their friendship manage his PTSD and finding a new purpose in life. 
 
CBS

Elementary (CBS)

Brief description: Sherlock has relocated to New York City, where he acts as a consulting detective to the NYPD, along with his sober companion Joan Watson.

Creative interpretation

While Elementary pays homage to the BBC’s Sherlock in the way he wears his ever-present scarf, that is where most of the similarities end. Elementary is quite a different show than Sherlock, as the writers have adapted the story and made it their own.

Most obviously: 1) Sherlock is now living in New York, after fleeing London due to his addiction, and 2) the fact that Watson is a woman. These two simple changes give a lot of new life and material to the adaptation!


Sherlock’s addiction is also front and center in this adaptation, which helps humanize him as he struggles with sober-living.

I also love how they changed the Moriarty character and storyline – I actually prefer it.


More diversity in gender and race

It’s a pretty well known criticism that Moffatt has a bad track record with writing complex, fully imagined female characters, whether it be on Sherlock or Dr. Who. So, I really really appreciate the work of the producers and writers on Elementary, who have introduced more diversity to the case, and address issues of sexism and racism in the show.
First of all, I love the reimagining of Watson as Joan, a woman, instead of John. More so — I love how she’s not just another Asian sidekick but a capable and independent woman who evolves from Sherlock’s sober companion to his partner as a detective-in-training. I mean, look at that poster — you often don’t see women standing behind a man in a movie or TV poster. Usually the woman is objectified and the man, domineering. Here, Joan is standing right behind Sherlock at the focal point of the poster. She appears to be the backbone of Sherlock here, and I think you could make the argument that, at it’s heart, the show is really about her and her journey.


Further, on numerous occasions Joan has called Sherlock out on sexism, racism, and his lack of sensitivity in dealing with victims. Sherlock treats Joan with respect, and listens, making adjustments to his anti-social behaviour to accommodate their working relationship. Speaking of relationships, theirs’ is completely platonic… and I love it that way. Yes, grown men and women can “just” be  friends!

Lastly, there is diversity in Elementarys’ cast of characters. Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson is Asian-American, and both Jon Michael Hill (Detective Bell) and Ato Essandoh (Alfredo, Sherlock’s sober sponsor) are African-American. Three characters of colour, give them a cookie, right?! However, I think it’s also important to note that all three characters are very important to Sherlock, and don’t exist solely to tell his story. They also don’t put up with his crap.


While the show isn’t entirely unproblematic, it is refreshing to see a female Asian lead, a diverse cast of secondary (but important) characters, and a show that calls out it’s main male character on his attitudes and behaviours.

Finally, These two shows both have value in what they bring to the Sherlock fandom and canon. After all there is no ONE Sherlock – he has been imagined over 80 times! All in all, I can confidently say that there is space in my heart to love two modern versions of the same classic detective.

Rachelia
Find out more about Rachelia and visit her blog Bookish Comforts

  

On the BBC’s Sherlock: A Study in Character, a guest post by author Carrie Mesrobian


Sherlock holds a sweet spot in my heart and not just I’m flooded with animated GIFs on my Tumblr feed of Sherlock and John kissing (I AM JOHN-LOCKED, etc.). And not just because it’s a brilliantly written and acted show.

I love Sherlock because my daughter Matilda, age 10, also loves it. So it’s one of the rare times my husband and my daughter can join me in one of my television obsessions. (Read what she wrote about her other television obsession, The Walking Dead, here)
Because we don’t have cable, we have to wait until January 19th, when season 3 premieres on PBS. I’m fairly DYING, because I have to avoid Tumblr (and I do love my Tumblr, you know) and because my family is full of predictions about Sherlock’s faked death and how he pulled it off.

BBC

 “I think he cloned himself; he just killed one of the extra bodies,” said Matilda.

“How did he clone himself?  Did the Baskerville lab scientists help him?” I asked.
“No, he probably just made Molly do it in her lab or whatever,” she replied.
Meanwhile, my husband is sure that Moriarty isn’t dead.
“If he’s dead, they’ll have to make up another villain,” Adrian said. “And who could be a better villain than Moriarty?”
Adrian’s also confident that The Woman – Irene Adler – will return. I think his confidence is partly wishful, due to Irene Adler’s tendency to appear on the show naked, but I also find her character riveting as well.
Irene Adler brings me to the real point I want to discuss, however: the beguiling character of Sherlock himself.
To sum him up, again, here’s Matilda: “Sherlock is an amazing person, but sometimes he’s kind of a dick.”

Editor’s note: Sherlock apparently needs to read this book from Zest Books

Indeed, this is what we’ve been learning, through John Watson’s viewpoint. Sherlock, though he’s a deductive genius, is extremely socially inept. He even claims to be a sociopath at one point, correcting a member of the police who calls him a psychopath. Truly, he is a character obsessed with solving mysteries, at times appearing not to care about the lives he might save or the good he might do – only the work, solving the puzzle, is alluring to him.

So, in a time when everyone wants characters who are “likeable,” why do we fascinate on Sherlock?
I think it’s because Sherlock himself is a mystery. The world reveals much to him at a mere glance but he himself, his own internal life and emotions, remain opaque to us. His relationships are minimal; he can’t get along with his brother Mycroft, and it’s a big step when he tells John in The Hounds of Baskerville that he doesn’t have “friends” but rather “one friend” – John himself, who is a relatively recent acquaintance.
Irene Adler is a character we enjoy watching for many reasons. But the key one is that she manages to reveal more about Sherlock – A Scandal in Belgravia features both of them literally naked as well –  as we see the effect she has on him, even as Sherlock strives to hide it. As viewers we are hoping she will give us more clues about Sherlock’s emotional capacity.

Source: Tumblr

Jim Moriarty also offers slight suggestive glimpses to the existence of any sense of morality in Sherlock’s precise, scientific brain. As foils and rivals, Moriarty presents a crucial question: what is the difference between him and Sherlock? We want to assume Sherlock has a conscience while Moriarty does not, but so far we don’t have much clear evidence on this fact.

So while we all are fascinated at the idea of being someone like Sherlock, having a mind that functions as his does, the mystery of him — and the show itself —  is how a person whose thought processes work in such vivid, amazing ways actually experiences the world in terms of emotions and morals and ethics and instincts. Does Sherlock not possess any of those things? Or does he suppress them in order to let his mind do its fantastic feats? Is it possible to truly know him as a person? Will John Watson succeed in becoming his true confidant and not just a sounding board and companion on adventures?
I look forward to journeying through these mysteries on January 19th, though I can’t live-tweet, as I need to pay full attention to everything (also no commercials makes it harder) and hope to offer up a recap/response on the premiere on my own blog.

About Carrie Mesrobian

Carrie Mesrobian is a native Minnesotan. A former high school Spanish instructor, Carrie currently teaches at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Her writing has appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Brain, Child magazine, and Calyx. Her debut young adult novel, Sex & Violence(Carolrhoda LAB) received stars from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. Her second novel, Perfectly Good White Boy, will be released in fall of 2014. She currently lives with her husband (Adrian), daughter (Matilda) and dog (Pablo), all of whom are pretty excellent.

Sherlock Week: On Moriarty, a guest post by Jayla

BBC

I was hooked on Sherlock since day one. There is no other way to get around that fact. I will admit that I wasn’t a true fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories until after I watched the first season of BBC America’s Sherlock revamp. But I have come to appreciate them a lot more since the show has gained so much success, and with good reasoning. Sherlock’s visuals are stunning, the mysteries cunning, and the characters are positively entertaining.

And then there is Moriarty. 


Yes, he needs a separate reason all to himself. Like any other fan of the TV series, I believe Moriarty to be one of the best villains in TV history.  But what makes him so great?
For starters, Sherlock and Moriarty are ALMOST the exact same person. They are both highly intelligent men and masters of manipulation. This is not something you see in many hero/villain relationships, but it makes for a delectable battle of wits.  I can only think of two major differences that make Moriarty completely different from Sherlock. The first is that Moriarty is a psychopath. Plain and simple. The second difference is that Moriarty only cares about Moriarty. One could argue that Sherlock doesn’t care about anyone, but there’s his relationship with Watson and his brother and even Irene Adler.
The second thing that makes Moriarty such a fabulous villain is his constant need to entertain himself. How often is it that a villain becomes a villain because he is bored? Usually villains become who they are to get some sort of retribution for something that was done to them. James Moriarty is evil because he wants to be. He is driven by his own need to conquer any and everything that stands in his way.

Source: Tumblr

Finally, he’s actually got a personality, albeit a screwy one. Let’s face it, we all love Jim Moriarty for the way he adds a little color to Sherlock’s life. With the likes of Irene Adler, Moriarty is the only adversary, so far, that’s given Sherlock as run for his money.

There are many more adversaries for Sherlock to overcome, but none can compare the insane, yet charming likes of Professor James Moriarty.
Bio

Jayla is finishing up her last semester as a graduate student and she couldn’t be more excited. She hopes to become a Youth Services librarian one day in the very near future. You can find her on the Internet at ladybluejay.comor on Twitter (@LBJReads).  

A Newbie’s View on Sherlock, from guest poster Maria Selke

http://gravity3652.tumblr.com/
It was early January, and I started to watch Sherlock on Netflix to get me through my elliptical routine. I enjoyed it… but something intervened.

(That something was a big blue box called the TARDIS. Six months and seven series later, I was more than an official Whovian. I was a fanatic fan.) 

Still… something about Sherlock Holmes beckoned to me. I love the idea of Sherlock. I love his lack of interpersonal skills and his overwhelming hubris. I adore how he notices… everything. I love how his connection with Watson has been depicted over the years.

Since I started my school year reading mysteries with my students, I took the time to reread Hound of Baskerville and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for myself. I even attempted to have my fifth graders read one of the short stories that were most appropriate for that age (though only a few of my students went on to read more themselves… since they are pretty tricky).

So when Karen announced that she wanted to run a blog series celebrating the return of Sherlock, I knew it was the right time to jump in with both feet. I’d like to take a moment and apologize to all my friends who have been pressuring me to watch the series. I’m sorry it took me so long. I’m so, so sorry.

What I Love About Sherlock

Keeping the Core

Sherlock is a cultural icon. People who haven’t read any of Doyle’s stories or seen any plays or movies still know who he is. There are behavioral oddities, styles of dress, violin playing, and verbal tics that need to be present for any version of Sherlock to be truly … Sherlock. BBC got it right. This is the Holmes I wanted to see. He is abrasive and prideful. He’s observant to a fault, yet strangely unable to process the feelings of others. He’s so easily bored that it is dangerous. In spite of his prickly exterior, there is a yearning for connection that makes his friendship with Watson the keystone of the tales. All of these things combine to make Holmes so appealing.


Modernizing for our Times

BBC did a great job keeping the core, but they also did a phenomenal job updating Holmes for our modern world. Sherlock’s attachment to his cell phone and his preference for texting are exactly what I’d expect to see. I was pleased by the fact that he doesn’t use the smart phone to look things up often, since his own mental palace is still chock full of tidbits that help him solve a case.

Watson’s blog is the perfect modern expression of his predilection for documenting their cases. BBC actually maintains a website where you can read Watson’s blog posts. How cool is that? There are posts from the actual episodes, and there are posts from after the season two finale. Now that is social media connection done right! http://www.johnwatsonblog.co.uk/

Visual Storytelling

It’s not just the characters that I like. The whole story telling style of the series appeals to me. Texts appear on screen so I can read them. Sherlock’s visual processing appears on screen as well, which lets me feel like I get to do the puzzles with him, even though I primarily identify with Watson. This is a way of experiencing life with Sherlock that is wonderful!

The little thrill I got when noticing tie ins to the original stories and mythos.

Watching the show without knowing Sherlock Holmes at all is probably almost as amazing. Almost. I found that the big and small references made a great experience even better, though! Some of the little things that would have passed me by before reading some of Doyle’s work this year were the “orange pips” alluded to in “The Great Game” and the titles of episodes like “A Study in Pink” and “A Scandal in Belgravia”. I loved noticing how the show writers took even the most familiar stories, like “The Hounds of Baskerville”, and respected the original plot lines while still updating the tale for the modern day. That takes some serious talent! Even casual Sherlock fans must have been amused by the addition of the deerstalker hat, though. Well done!

Hopefully fans of the show who haven’t already read them will dive into the Doyle stories.

The friendship between Holmes and Watson     

This is probably the part of the show that made me love it the most. Characters with puzzle are cool. Characters with intriguing relationships live in my heart forever. Holmes doesn’t have friends. He has a brother who annoys him. He has colleagues who find him irritating. He has clients who are grateful for his service.

Then he meets Watson. Finally, he has someone who appreciates his intellect. Holmes and Watson have an almost Time Lord / Companion relationship (especially of the Donna/Ten variety). Watson will stand up to Sherlock when he needs to be backed down. He even makes Sherlock apologize! As I watched the final episode of season 2, though, I realized that Watson needs Sherlock just as much. His goodbye at the graveyard was heart-wrenching. 

I’m not on board with the “shipping” in this fandom (I think the value of male platonic unconditional love is highly underrated in our society), but I am in awe of the way this pair supports one another. We need more emphasis on this kind of friendship.

What do you love best about Sherlock? Do you have any favorite stories or modern incarnations?

Maria is a mother, a teacher, a wife, and a reader. I’m also a committed geek girl. I love science fiction, fantasy, and comics.  She joined us earlier for Doctor Who week and she blogs over at Maria’s Melange.

Sherlock and the Case of the Diversity Problem (and why representation matters)

The creator of the BBC Sherlock reboot is none other than Steve Moffat, who also is currently helming another popular BBC show – Doctor Who.  One of the things that has always impressed me about Doctor Who as I began watching it was the diversity of the show.  When we first meet the reboot Doctor, number 9, he takes a decidely white Rose into space and time with him, and sometimes her very non-white boyfriend joins them.  After Rose, the Doctor is accompanied by Martha, also not white.  And they have several adventures with Captain Jack Harkness, who later gets his own show called Torchwood, who is very white but is also decidely not straight.  In fact, there are a wide variety of characters that appear in both Doctor Who and Torchwood and the most amazing thing is – no one every comments really on their non-whiteness or their sexuality (I won’t say never, because it does come up in context a couple of times), because it is understood that we live in a diverse world and there is no need for commentary.

Early Doctor Who Reboot
Sarah Jane, Mickey Smith, Jackie Tyler, Rose Tyler, Doctor, Martha Jones, Donna Noble and Capt. Jack Harkness
Check out this article at The Mary Sue as the BBC responds to critics of racism in Doctor Who
So we have Mickey, Martha Jones, Tosh (on Torchwood), Captain Jack, Ianto (and they kiss – a lot), and a variety of supporting characters who pop in and out and THERE IS DIVERSITY.  Then Steven Moffat took over, and things changed.  And then he rebooted Sherlock.

So what happens to Sherlock?  Well, Sherlock lacks diversity.  All of the main cast of characters is decidedly white male, most of the supporting characters are as well.  But here’s the deal, later day Doctor Who and Sherlock are under a different creator/writer.  And this change has brought about some diversity issues.

To make matters worse, there is an undercurrent of homophobia running throughout the relationship of Sherlock and Watson, as if being a couple – gasp – would be THE. WORST. THING. EVER.  I mean, they feel the need to stop in the middle of murder investigations and make sure that everyone understands that there is no way in hell they would ever be a couple as if that is more important than the fact that people are dying.  I understand that there are men in real life who would definitely not want to be identified as homosexual, what I don’t get is why we feel the need to write it in as a running gag and a source of amusement on a show that already has so much going on.  It’s unnecessary and contributes to the continued harassment and stigmazation of a people group that has spent centuries being persecuted.  Keep in mind that identifying as GLBTQ in today’s world is one of the leading causes of teenage bullying, homelessness and suicide.  Making them the butt of the jokes on a popular show contributes to this ongoing epidemic.  And whatever one may personally feel about homosexuality, I don’t think it is okay to create a hostile environment for them.  Full stop.

Infographic Source

Of course Sherlock did try and give a nod to diversity once in an epic fail of an episode called The Blind Banker.  For a variety of reasons, this is my least favorite episode of the series to date.  Mostly, I simply don’t really care all that much for the story.  But also, this episode is one of the few episodes where we get some main characters of color and they are full of stereotypes.  There is a good discussion of the problem of diversity in The Blind Banker hereOr this post which points out that the script for The Blind Banker calls for “Soo Lin Yao, a fragile little porcelain Chinese doll; a stupid brute of a Sikh warrior; Japanese geisha nicknacks for sale in a Chinese…not a shop…the script calls it an emporium…”  It’s like the writers reached into their grab bag of Asian stereotypes and threw them all against a wall to see which would stick, and apparently they all did.

Molly Hooper: BBC

Then we come to the character of Irene Adler, which Christie already talked about on Monday.  I have such mixed feelings on Irene.  She is definitely shown as being a strong female character, a woman who confounds and beguiles Sherlock.  But her power comes primarily from her sexuality.  In fact, when Sherlock first meets her she appears in her birthday suit, she is using her nudity as a powerplay.  So although I love that we have a strong female character, I wish that her power could come somewhere other than her sexuality.  It seems as if our popular culture continues to assert to young women that they can only be powerful if they can harness and exude their sexuality.  In comparison, we have the character of Molly Hooper, who is once again a stereotype.  Molly is a smart girl, the token science geek girl if you will, so of course she must be mousey and socially akward and pine after Sherlock.  Imagine for just a moment if we could have had a strong, intelligent science minded woman who found power in her intellect and ability to help Sherlock as opposed to the only real female representation of power that we get in Irene Adler.  This is an interesting look at the character of Irene Adler, and more interestingly about how the role of Moriarty undermines the role of Irene Adler.  And perhaps my favorite comment about Irene Adler can be found here: “Well, to be fair, BCC Sherlock did turn Irene from a master of disguise and all-around genius who easily saw through Sherlock’s ruse into a pawn of Moriarty who needs to be told how to deal with Sherlock.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: ABC

Why does this matter?  Sherlock is a reboot, an updated take on the popular character.  In the original works, these issues would make more sense because they were written in a time period that thought differently than we do today.  But this Sherlock appears in modern day London.  As we update the setting, we also need to update the representation of people who are not white men to reflect modern day sensibilities.  Look around you, the modern day world is not as white as the world of Sherlock would lead us to believe.  And this is important because it affects how we perceive the world around us and how people who are not white men perceive themselves, and each other.  People often say that entertainment entertains but it does not influence.  But I can’t help but wonder, if we know that marketing works, and we do, then how can we suggest that what we see in our media doesn’t influence how we think about our world, ourselves and each other?  The answer is, I think, that we can’t.  Diverse representation matters because people need to know that people of color can be strong, intelligent, and powerful without being a bad guy, a red shirt, a token, or – gasp – a maid or gas station attendant (or a fragile porcelain Chinese doll).  And girls (women) need to know that they can be powerful because of their intelligence, their contributions to society, and in their friendships – it doesn’t have to come from sexuality, it isn’t all about sexuality.

Here’s the thing.  I really, really love the BBC’s Sherlock.  I love the way it looks visually, how you see how Sherlock is processing the evidence and coming to his conclusions.  I love the quirkiness that is Sherlock, and how he is kind of a despicable, arrogant character but has glimpses of humanity, often in relation to Watson or Mrs. Hudson.  Mostly, I love that it is intelligent drama that asks you to pay attention.  But I can’t pretend it is perfect even though I am an enthusiastic fan.  Just as I can’t pretend Doctor Who is perfect.  I want my tweens and teens to grow up in a world where they are represented in healthy and realistic ways so that they develop healthy images of themselves and their place in this world.  Sherlock needs to do better.  And yes, my teens are watching.

P.S. All these same arguments hold true for our MG and YA lit.  Diversity is important.  Representation matters.  Readers need to see realistic representations to have their existence, their place in this world, affirmed.  And readers need to have realistic depictions of those that are different from themselves so that they develop realistic and healthy ideas about those that are different than them.

More:
“If she can’t see it, she can’t be it”
Beth Revis: I See You, Representation Matters (great post, read it)
Ramp Your Voice: Why Representation Matters in Children’s Books and Media
Actually, just Google “representation matters” for lots of great posts

More Diversity at TLT:
Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit
See also the Diversity in YA Tumblr by Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo

More on Gender and Sexuality at TLT:
I’m Just a Girl? Gender issues in YA Lit
Girls Against Girls
Teach Me How to Live: talking with guys about ya lit with Eric Devine
Let’s Hear It for the Boys: Boys and body image
Who Will Save You? Boundaries, Rescue and the Role of Adults in the Lives of Teens
The Curious Case of the Gender Based Assignment 

You want to put WHAT in my YA?
Taking a Stand for What You Believe In
Annie on My Mind and Banned Books Week on My Calendar
Queer (a book review)
Top 10: For Annie and Liza (Annie on My Mind)

I Am SHERLocked: Sherlock Program/Party Ideas

After the success – and fun – of my Doctor Who program, I decided to have a Sherlock themed program.  Pop culture is a great programming tie-in.  For Sherlock, I am doing some hands on forensic science projects as well as some crafting projects.  The forensic science themed projects can be found here at my CSI program outline. I think the game of observation – where you ask teens to examine a “scene” and then recall what they have noticed – is especially fitting for a Sherlock program.  In addition, I will be doing the craft activities below.

Bottle Cap/Marble Magnet Quotes

Look, I am not going to lie.  I am a big fan of Marble Magnets and Bottle Cap jewelry.  You can make the individual pieces however you want, which means you are encouraging teens to be creative.  And in the case of the bottle caps, you can then string them onto cord with beads and make unique pieces of jewelry (or keychains, etc.).

The basic info for making Bottle Cap Jewelry can be found here

And here is the basic info for making Marble Magnets. 

And here are 50 things you can do with Bottle Caps.

You can download this sheet here

I put together a template of some inserts that teens can use to make their bottle caps/marble magnets.  But they can always make their own.  And you can also take an ink pad and they can make their own fingerprints.

Spray Paint Smiley Face Art

Materials: Blank canvas, various scrapbook paper, yellow spray paint, Mod Podge

Fans of the BBC Sherlock will recognize the distinct wall paper with a spray painted smiley face dripping down it.   So I created my own version using wallpaper (aka scrapbook paper) that would better fit into my personal space.  So give tweens/teens a wide choice of papers to match their rooms.  Then, glue it onto your canvas, giving it time to dry.  Use your yellow spray paint to make your dripping smiley face (this was harder than I would have thought).  Again, give it time to dry.  Then I used stickers to decorate and add quotes.  After it is all dry, apply a layer of Mod Podge over the top and give it time to dry.  You could also do a skull picture onto wallpaper if you choose.

Silhouette Pictures

Materials: A discarded book you don’t mind tearing apart, a blank frame, white paper, a black Sharpie

The Sherlock silhouette is an iconic image.  You can turn your teens into silhouettes and let them make their own pictures (more on this below).  I used pages of a book for a background.  I had extra picture frames lying around from another craft and we are coloring them with Sharpies.

Below is information on how you can create your own silhouette pictures.  I turned a picture into a black and white image and adjusted the settings as far as I could.  I then printed the picture, cut it out, and colored it with a black Sharpie.  Tape it down onto a new sheet of paper making sure you completely cover the edges and you get a crisp black silhouette.

After being colored and recopied

 Here is a great tutorial from this post at About.com

“You can pull characters from stock photos or your own pictures. All you do is separate the character from the background and then color the person with a solid color. This approach is effective because you can shoot your own photos and not worry about lighting and getting the best image. As long as it is clear and has the right pose, you’re fine. Once it’s filled no one can tell what the original looked like.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - paint images black
  • Open the photo in a graphics editor.
  • Pull the person out of the background.
  • Fill the character with black and save the image.

Tip: If you want a transparent background with the image make sure to save as .gif or .png. You don’t need a fancy graphics application to do this. In fact, I did this demo in Paint.net which is a free download.” Source: About.com

You can see a photo montage of a teen doing their silhouette on the Tumblr: http://teenlibrariantoolbox.tumblr.com/post/72490546309/this-teen-just-turned-himself-into-a-sherlock

Some other Silhouette Tutorials:
HGTV: How to make a framed child’s silhouette
SITS Girls: Uses paint (I substituted paint for a black Sharpie to cut down drying times)
Bower Power: Photoshop Tutorial

You could also just use silhouette images of Sherlock and Watson found online.  That’s what I used in my example craft.

Sherlock and the Curious Case of Fanfiction, a guest post by author Frankie Brown

Image Source: I Want to be a Pin Up w/Sherlock Fanfic Recs

People like to call fiction — especially fanfiction — escapism, as if that’s a bad thing. Fiction does let you escape yourself, but that’s wonderful if inside yourself is sometimes a scary place to be. Fiction has always been my therapy. 

Nothing is better than getting so lost in a story, whether reading or writing it, that I look up and I’m surprised the world is still there. The time I spend sleuthing around London with Sherlock is like that. The London chill becomes so real I have to pull on a cable knit sweater.

My own craving for escape comes from anxiety that sometimes makes my life feel like flashes of a train wreck, or that tunnel scene from Willy Wonka (you know the one?).
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X48RiKQmFQ?rel=0]
 Anxiety doesn’t compartmentalize itself. There’s no box in my head neatly labeled “panic attacks” with another separate box for writing. Often it feels like I’m trying to type on Wonka’s boat.

My writing anxiety didn’t go away after I signed with my agent (the fabulous JL Stermer), or after I signed a contract with Bloomsbury. It’s there every time I sit down at the keyboard. I feel it right now.

I signed with my agent on August 1st, and signed my contract with Bloomsbury Spark on September 1st. My book was published on December 19th (all in the same year). In between signing with Bloomsbury and publishing with Bloomsbury, my life was a blur of edits and micromanaging sentences. I was buried in my book, swimming in words, commas and semicolons.

Could I start my next novel? No way.

But I was obsessed with BBC’s Sherlock. That and my edits were all I could talk about (bless the brave souls who tolerated me). I couldn’t invest in writing original fiction. I was too tired, too anxious, too stuck on Wonka’s boat to devote myself to writing another novel right away.

Plus, I couldn’t stop thinking about Sherlock. Reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes, rewatching episodes of the BBC series, taking three moleskines worth of notes on character development and plot construction — I was completely hooked. Add the fact that I’d just finished reading Rainbow Rowell’s FANGIRL for the fourth or fifth time, and I’m sure you know what happened next.

Fanfiction. Lots and lots of Sherlock fanfiction.

Reading it, writing it (Yes! Writing it!), reviewing it, chatting with bloggers and digging through archives. Sitting down to write about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson didn’t make my chest feel tight or my throat close up. There were no expectations. If it sucked, who cared? No one would know it was me.

But of course it was me. Me at the keyboard, remembering why I loved writing, and — eventually, tentatively — typing out the first sentences to my next novel. When I submitted my final edits to Meredith, editor-in-awesome at Bloomsbury Spark, I was as happy and excited as I should’ve been. No psychedelic Willy Wonka tunnel trip in sight.

Thank you, Mr. Holmes.

About Frankie Brown:

Frankie Brown writes, sells and hoards books in Athens, GA, a funky little town famous for its music scene. But, as anyone who’s ever heard the fruits of Frankie’s musical endeavors can attest, her talents lie elsewhere. She’s turned her creative energy to crafting stories and can typically be found hunched over a keyboard in her neighborhood coffee shops. @frankiebrown25

Until We End by Frankie Brown
It’s been nine months since the virus hit, killing almost everyone it touched. Seventeen-year-old Cora and her little brother, Coby, haven’t left home since. Not after the power cut out; not even after sirens faded in the distance and the world outside their backyard fence fell silent. But when a blistering drought forces Cora to go in search of water, she discovers that the post-apocalyptic world isn’t as deserted as she thought when she meets Brooks, a drop-dead sexy army deserter. 

Fighting their way back home, Cora finds her house ransacked and Coby missing – kidnapped by the military for dangerous medical experiments in the name of finding a cure. Brooks knows exactly where Cora can find her brother, except he says it’s a suicide mission. Cora doesn’t care. But Brooks can’t let her go…