SS Taylor’s The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon is a fantastic YA novel that manages to hearken back to the golden age of kid-detective novels while still telling a thoroughly contemporary story.
Video on Today: Middle school teacher Jessica Lahey and psychologist Jennifer Hartstein discuss the “summer slide”: kids losing months of learning over the summer. They share tips and book suggestions to get your kids reading this summer so they’ll do better when they return to school.
This is Alexander. Katherine Roy and I spoke at his school recently and he surprised us by dressing up as Kit! His Expeditioners gear is really well-done. Look at those utilities and arm bands. Thanks, Alexander. It was a pleasure to meet you!
In DC last week, I ducked into the National Geographic Society for an amazing exhibition called Birds of Paradise: Amazing Avian Evolution.
The exhibit features the work of ornithologist Edwin Scholes and National Geographic photographer Tim Laman. Starting in 2004, Scholes and Laman went on 18 separate expeditions to Papua New Guinea to study and photograph the 39 known species of birds of paradise. These guys are real expeditioners! The story of how they found and photographed these birds, on the ground and high in the rain forest canopy, is absolutely thrilling. If you’re anywhere near Washington, DC, go see this great exhibition.
After she read The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon, Maddy S. drew this picture of Lazlo Nackley. Thanks, Maddy! I love his expression!
The San Francisco Chronicle on The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon:
"This exciting first installment of a new middle-grade series charts the adventures of three orphaned siblings living in an alternative America in "the New Modern Age" devoid of electricity and computers but full of sophisticated technology based on steam engines and clockwork devices, dirigibles and other flying machines, and a menacing, tyrannical government. Middle brother Kit is the brain, eldest brother Zander is brave, and younger sister M.K. is a tinkerer. Their dad left them half a map and a mystery to follow in the canyons of Arizona when he disappeared. Beautifully written and nail-bitingly thrilling, this is an easy series to get hooked on."
Indiana Jones Mystery Package
We don’t really even know how to start this post. Yesterday we received a package addressed to “Henry Walton Jones, Jr.”. We sort-of shrugged it off and put it in our bin of mail for student workers to sort and deliver to the right faculty member— we get the wrong mail a lot.
Little did we know what we were looking at. When our student mail worker snapped out of his finals-tired haze and realized who Dr. Jones was, we were sort of in luck: this package wasn’t meant for a random professor in the Stat department. It is addressed to “Indiana” Jones.
What we know: The package contained an incredibly detailed replica of “University of Chicago Professor” Abner Ravenwood’s journal from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It looks only sort of like this one, but almost exactly like this one, so much so that we thought it might have been the one that was for sale on Ebay had we not seen some telling inconsistencies in cover color and “Ex Libris” page (and distinct lack of sword). The book itself is a bit dusty, and the cover is teal fabric with a red velvet spine, with weathered inserts and many postcards/pictures of Marion Ravenwood (and some cool old replica money) included. It’s clear that it is mostly, but not completely handmade, as although the included paper is weathered all of the “handwriting” and calligraphy lacks the telltale pressure marks of actual handwriting.
What we don’t know: Why this came to us. The package does not actually have real stamps on it— the outside of the package was crinkly and dirty as if it came through the mail, but the stamps themselves are pasted on and look like they have been photocopied. There is no US postage on the package, but we did receive it in a bin of mail, and it is addressed to the physical address of our building, Rosenwald Hall, which has a distinctly different address from any other buildings where it might be appropriate to send it (Haskell Hall or the Oriental Institute Museum). However, although now home to the Econ department and College Admissions, Rosenwald Hall used to be the home to our departments of geology and geography.
If you’re an applicant and sent this to us: Why? How? Did you make it? Why so awesome? If you’re a member of the University community and this belongs to you or you’ve gotten one like it before, PLEASE tell us how you acquired it, and whether or not yours came with a description— or if we’re making a big deal out of the fact that you accidentally slipped a gift for a friend in to the inter-university mail system. If you are an Indiana Jones enthusiast and have any idea who may have sent this to us or who made it, let us know that, too.
We know this sounds like a joke/hoax… it’s not (at least, from our end). Any hints, ideas, thoughts, or explanations are appreciated. We’ve been completely baffled as to why this was sent to us, in mostly a good way, but it’s clear this is a neat thing that either belongs somewhere else— or belongs in the halls of UChicago admissions history.
Internet: help us out. If you’re on Reddit (we’re not) or any other nerdly social media sites where we might get information about this, feel free to post far and wide and e-mail any answers, clues, ideas, thoughts, or musings to email@example.com (yes, we did set up an email account just to deal with this thing).
My current read: The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon by S. S. Taylor (Illustrated by Katherine Roy)
My current polish: OPI Goldeneye (OPI Natural Nail Base Coat; Seche Vite Top Coat) - currently at three full days of wear
That really is the perfect nail polish to go with the book …
Some recent stories/reviews from around the interwebs …
I had so much fun with this crew tonight. They’re a book group of seventh graders from Lyme, New Hampshire, and they’ve been reading and talking about books together since they were in first grade. This month they chose The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon as their read and invited me to come and answer questions and join in their discussion. It made me so happy to see such avid, active readers thinking about theme and plot and character development, and sharing their favorite books with me and each other. They were also really, really nice to my son, whose year was made hanging out with the big kids. Thanks, all. I loved visiting your book group!