"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, January 28, 2019

Preparing for an Author Visit from Christopher Healy

Christopher Healy is coming to talk with my fourth and fifth graders and they are very excited.

Christopher's humorous and witty writing has found many fans in my school library. It is rare to find any of the books in The Hero's Guide to series on the actual shelves. This trilogy has continued to be a popular reading choice since the first book came out in 2012.

Christopher is writing a new and very different trilogy and, if the first volume is any indication, it will be just as popular as the last! This new trilogy begins with A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem: A Dastardly Plot

"It's 1883—the Age of Invention! A time when great men like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Nicola Tesla, and George Eastman work to turn the country into a land of limitless opportunity.

And it all happens at the world famous Inventor’s Guild headquarters in New York City—a place where a great idea, a lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck can find you rubbing elbows with these gods of industry who will usher humanity into the future.

Unless, of course, you’re a woman.

Molly Pepper, daughter of brilliant but unknown inventor Cassandra Pepper, lives with her mother in New York. By day, they make ends meet running a pickle shop; but by night, they toil and dream of Cassandra taking her place among the most famous inventors in America.

In an attempt to find a way to exhibit Cass’s work at the World’s Fair, they break into the Inventor's Guild, where they discover a mysterious plot to destroy New York.

The evidence points to the involvement of one of the world’s most famous inventors, and now it’s up to Molly, Cassandra, and a shop hand named Emmett Lee to uncover the truth—even if no one will ever know it was they who did it."

The students have enjoyed learning about and reading from A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem: A Dastardly Plot.  

My copy is filled with sticky notes for all things that I wanted to point out or talk about with my students.

Here are a few:

I love the Mothers of Invention (MOI) and how Molly Pepper learns of the expression that inspired that name for a group of very talented female inventors. To help my students understand the phrase "necessity is the mother of invention," I showed them how to attach to pieces of paper together when you don't have tape, staples, paperclips or binders, i.e., the paper folding and tearing trick. The audible gasps were awesome.

I love the Pepper's life in the pickle shop and I can't help but think that Christopher Healy had the Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers tongue twister in mind when he chose their name and profession.

Christopher introduces students to the reality that not everything was great for everyone in the 1880's. I appreciate that the Chinese Exclusion Act and an overzealous approach to helping orphans were also included. Readers are able to see how these two things impacted Emmet Lee's life and with Molly were able to develop empathy for those impacted by these two things.. 

I love how Christopher Healy introduces us to characters in this book. Take Jasper for an example, in one brief paragraph, we learn that he's chatty, he misses Emmett Lee, he thinks he has attractive eyes, and most importantly, he's a reader. Made my librarian heart happy.

Humor and excitement abound. From pickle juice spillage, rooms with no apparent escape, and near-death encounters this story is a fun and fast-paced read.

The focus on the 1880's and the age of invention has also prompted some interesting research! Check out this padlet of the things the 4th graders learned.
Check out this Padlet of the things the 5th graders learned.

All that reading, talking, and information gathering prompted some great questions:
Check out more of these Questions, Questions, Questions for Christopher Healy!

Along with reading and researching, we've been sewing literary threads by connecting to other books in the library, like these:

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