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Sherlocked: The Case for Irene Adler

This week is Sherlock week at TLT.  In fact, today is considered Sherlock’s birthday.  So happy birthday Sherlock!  All this week we will be posting about the BBC show Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes the literary character, and mysteries in general.

When you talk about Sherlock, whether in the stories, the TV series, or the movies, there are always four main people that come to my mind.

Sherlock Holmes: BBC

Doctor Watson: BBC

Moriarty: BBC

and Irene Adler: BBC

I’ve read some of the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the first one I ever read was A Scandal in Bohemia, where readers are introduced to Irene completely.

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer — excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.

 In the books, she’s placed higher than the King in Sherlock’s mind, and it shows in that he keeps her photo (also shown in the Basil Rathbone series and in the more recent Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr.) as a memento. She’s the only woman who’s beaten him- and one of five total. Impressive, brainy, and beautiful, she’s seen as a fitting equal in his eyes and could have been possibly the one.

She does NOT use her sex (gender or sexy times) in order to get anywhere- she is an equal for anyone and everyone around her.

Where did that get lost? Why is it in modern times writers are obsessed with sexualizing her? Why can’t she be brilliant and wonderful and beautiful without having to seduce to get things, or rely on trickery when she is just as brilliant a mastermind as Sherlock?

Take the 2009 movie release of Sherlock Holmes. In the steampunky version with Downey Jr., Adler is played by Rachel McAdams. She a professional thief and has a long string of various divorces behind her (hinting at her activities in the bedroom and using her mind and her body to get things she needed). There is also a rather notorious scene where she’s in her hotel room changing into a nightgown in order to supposedly seduce Sherlock, and instead poisons him until morning, leaving him with the key under the pillow on his lap. She’s not in control, someone else is pulling the strings, and she is merely a puppet- using whatever she can (including her sex and her feelings) to get things accomplished.
Sherlock Holmes, Warner Bros
In CBS’s Elementary, it gets really fun because Adler is combined into…. well….  if you haven’t seen it, I’m not going to spoil it as it’s really interesting. Go find it and binge. Or if you want to, read here.
CBS Elementary
 Still, there’s still not as much over the top sex and sexuality in either of those as there is with the dominatrix Adler in BBC’s Sherlock, who’s actually brilliantly played by Lara Pulver. 
Irene Adler: BBC
And she does play the role brilliantly, and is a wonderful foil for the social failure of Benedict’s Sherlock. Please go find the episode she’s in, because it’s an excellent set of twists and turns. However, with Adler being set as a dominatrix, she’s automatically set as an outcast sex worker (lower because she takes the “weird/kinky types” according to society), and she is either barely clothed or naked for a good portion of the episode. And again, she is not the one in control- someone else is.
She is able to bring out, like John, a human side of Sherlock that the audience had yet to see, which is true to the Adler of Doyle’s stories. I just wish that it didn’t have to be all tangled up in the sex. There has to be a way to show a modern-day Irene Adler without the hidden (and not so hidden) sex in it, because while smart is sexy,
sex is not the new smart.

TPiB: On a Stick

This is how some program ideas come to me: I am flipping through a new book that comes into our library and it sparks some inspiration.  It’s a win/win: patrons get cool books and I get great program ideas.

I like the idea of food on a stick.  There are some glorious recipes in here: Pizza Skewers, Cake Pops, Cinnamon Rolls (on a stick! You dip them into the icing.), Deep Fried Ravioli . . . So many great recipes. Give me a second, I have to clean the drool off of my keyboard.  As I looked through this book, I couldn’t help but think of all the programming and party planning ideas that could come out of it.  Sometimes all it takes is a little spark and you get entire party themes.  I think having a stick party is kind of the best idea ever.  But you can take it in other directions as well.  Wait, let me tell you some of the ideas that came to me as I flipped through.

Stick Puppets

I know what you’re thinking, “Stick puppets, really?”  But I have found that tweens and teens like to be creative if you give them the opportunity.  So give it to them.  Have them create stick puppets and then bust out your digital device and encourage them to make Vines or short YouTube clips.  Stick Puppets don’t have to be simple, you can create really elaborate ones (and clean out your craft supply closet) with hair, clothes, and more.  They can be people, animals, and even made up creatures.  Then feed your teens tons of glorious food on a stick.  They will love you.  And again I say to you, having a stick themed party is just quirky enough to be fun and interesting.

You can also play games like Hangman, Pick Up Sticks, and more at your stick themed party.  Or use pipe cleaners to make stick people and make stop motion Vine videos.

Spam and Pineapple Skewers and a Post Apocalypse Survival Party

When I saw this in the book I immediately thought: Post Apocalypse Party (or book discussion group).  Well, actually first I thought: “Ewwww, Spam.”  Then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a post-apocalypse discussion group/survival party?”  You could do things like make Paracord bracelets, discuss survival strategies, and even talk about your favorite post-apocalypse fiction.  Better yet, make it an ongoing book discussion over a series and discuss several books and do a different survival related activity at each book discussion meeting.  You could also include fun things from the Quirk Books Worst Case Survival Handbook.  And I happen to own the Worst Case Scenario Boardgame.  When you are running from zombies, you’ll want to make sure you know how to survive falling into quicksand.

You could also combine some of the recipes here with the ideas found in this Kitchen Road Trippin’ program outline to create a read around the globe book discussion group.

Cookies on a Stick

Have a Cookies on a Stick version of Cupcake Wars.  If you have not ever seen Cupcake Wars, you basically are given a theme and you bake and decorate cupcakes to highlight that theme.  In this version, you would provided cookies on a stick and allow participants to decorate the cookies around a theme.  You could take it up a notch and have them use their decorated cookies to create a scene, much like they do with Peeps Dioramas.

From Bake with Ginger

Bake with Ginger has a fun tutorial for creating Mustache Cookies on a Stick which you can use to make fun mustache pics – and then eat!  You could even have a mustache themed party with mustache crafts and a fun photobooth.

S’Mores (on a stick of course!)

Scary stories around a campfire – perfect for October.  Of course, you would have to create a fake campfire if you were going to do this in a library.  But get out a copy of your Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, eat some S’Mores on a Stick, and have fun.

Fish and Chips

Probably in part because I am obsessed with British TV (think Doctor Who, Sherlock & Downton Abby), I immediately thought about having a British TV/Film festival where you would of course serve Fish and Chips – on a stick.  The Robert Downey versions of the Sherlock Holmes films are covered under by Movie Licensing USA.  And you can buy some cool Union Jack Duck Tape to make some very British duct tape crafts.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.

Sherlock Lives: An Invitation to Sherlock Week

In planning our library calendar for 2014, Christie and I noticed that January 6th is typically celebrated as the birthday of Sherlock Holmes.  I have always been a Sherlock fan, and adore the series on the BBC.  Series 3 of Sherlock is set to debut on January 19th.  During the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special they released a new Sherlock trailer with the hashtag #SherlockLives:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Vq4s8n8vxw?rel=0]

So the week of January 6th through the11th will be Sherlock Week here at TLT and you can participate!  If you would like to write a blog post about Sherlock Holmes – old or new; book, movies or on television – or about YA mysteries or mystery related library programming, please email me at kjensenmls at yahoo and we’ll talk.  I will need all post drafts by December 31st to get them formatted and scheduled.  Join me, we can make fun of Watson’s mustache.
Sherlock Week
January 6th through 11th, 2014

Take 5: It’s Elementary (YA Fiction for fans of Sherlock)

While reading The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, I couldn’t help but think that fans of the BBC Sherlock (or the CBS show Elementary) would enjoy reading it.  Which got me thinking: What other YA books would Sherlock fans enjoy?  Below is a list of 10 titles that fit the bill and I recommend.  You may have your own recommendations, so please feel free to join the discussion.  P.S., in case you didn’t know, I am absolutely obsessed with Sherlock.  I am also convinced that the BBC has some of the best television happening right now.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Cassie is a natural born profiler, enlisted in a special FBI program that seeks to hone the special talents of teens.  The Naturals get drawn into an active case when a package shows up at their dorm making it clear that this case is personal.  Cassie is no longer safe and she doesn’t know who to trust.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Mary Russell #1) by Laurie King

“You cannot help being a female, and I should be something of a fool were I to discount your talents merely because of their housing.”

The retired Sherlock may have met his match in the form of one teenage girl named Mary Russell. Soon she is his pupil and they two are put to the test by a new, elusive villain.

A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y. S. Lee

“Calmly, slowly, she reached behind with her left hand and came up against — yes, fabric. Fine linen, to be precise. So far, so good: she was inside a wardrobe, after all. The only problem was that this linen was oddly warm. Body warm. Beneath the tentative pressure of her palm, it seemed to be moving…”

Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is the cover for an all female investigative unit called The Agency.  Mary Quinn is given one assignment: infiltrate a rich merchants house to find missing cargo ships.  Is there anyone in the house Mary can trust? Want more historical fiction with female spies? Check out Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

“Keep calm and carry on.
Also, stay in and hide because the Ripper is coming.”

Rory arrives in London the day a serial killer starts taking lives in a way that eerily resembles Jack the Ripper.  Rory spotted a man she thought was the killer, but she seems to be the only one that saw him.  Now, as the only witness, will she be his next victim?

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

“Maybe there is something when it all ends. Maybe there is memory, memory of the person you loved, when you lived. Maybe this is the white-light-tunnel deal, and I’m pressing toward it, and it’s pressing back, until we become the same thing.”

Since her brother disappeared, Lo’s desire to collect things has turned into obsession.  When she discovers a butterly pendant, it may be a clue to help her find her missing brother.

Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan

What happens when Momento and Mullholland Drive meet M Night (but when he was still considered good)? This happens. Daniel is dragged to a camp/resort/vacation spot with his father.  He feels drawn to the mysterious Lexi, but wonders why her bruises keep getting worse every time he sees her.  A dark figure stalks them both and Daniel has to solve the mystery of Lexi before it is too late.

Hemlock (Hemlock #1) by Kathleen Peacock

“You can’t lose what you never had.”  

When her best friend dies, Mackenzie vows to hunt her killer – a white werewolf.  In this world, werewolves live in plain sight. But there are dangerous secrets lurking in Hemlock that may make it hard for Mackenzie to keep her promise.

Eye of the Crow (The Boy Sherlock Holmes #1) by Shane Peacock

Granted, putting a young Sherlock Holmes title on the list may seem like cheating.  But it is good and you should read it.  Also, I feel like that is all I really need to say about this series: Young. Sherlock. Holmes.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

“I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

Flavia de Luce is an 11 year old aspiring chemist that has a passion for poison.  Don’t they all? First there is a dead bird with a postage stamp on its beak.  Then there is a dead man in the cucumber patch.  To Falvia the investigation is the stuff of science. 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

“I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.”

Technically, Code Name Verity is not a mystery.  It is, in fact, a marvelous piece of historical fiction full of friendship, spies and female pilots.  But you’ll have to pay attention while you read because the little things matter and you will be stunned by the amazing way Wein pulls all the pieces together to tell the details of this story – much like Sherlock solving a case.

Also, check out these programming ideas to celebrate all things Sherlock.

I know you have some titles to add to the list, right?  Please share in the comments.