This program was created and executed by myself and the former youth facilitator at my branch. It was held as our Halloween program in 2013. Since then, some of the notes have gone missing, so I am creating this post based on what survived and memory.
We chose to do a library themed live-action Clue game with our teens last year. First, we had to choose our suspects, weapons, and locations. We chose the following suspects:
- Dr. John Watson
- Harry Potter
- Dr. Seuss
- Lady Guinevere
- President Snow (from The Hunger Games trilogy)
- Mrs. Marisa Coulter (from the His Dark Materials trilogy)
We found pictures of each suspect and created what we called character cards for each player (you could also separate your teens into teams if you have too many participants for the six suspects). On these character cards, which we handed out shortly after the program began, we put pertinent information they would need marking it for them to keep hidden from the other players or to reveal it at a certain moment in the game. We’ll return to these cards later in this post.
Then, we decided to select weapons found in the library since it would be the scene of the crime:
- Hole Punch
- Book Cart
- World Atlas
- Cake Pan (Our system circulates cake pans, and it was a new feature we wanted to display for this program. You might choose a pencil or something else found at your branch if you choose to do this program.)
Finally, we looked at the layout of our branch and selected the areas where we could play the game without disturbing patrons to be used as our locations for the game:
- Children’s Room
- Meeting Room
- Young Adult Section
Once we had all that established, we could move on to the more intricate parts of our game. You see, we wanted it to be more interactive than simply walking to the various locations throughout the library and making guesses. We wanted there to be a motive that the teens had to deduce along with the weapon, murderer, and location like Clue usually requires. Below, you’ll find each suspect’s potential motive for killing the librarian and the information we included on their character cards:
- Dr. John Watson: Motive–To protect his friend Sherlock Holmes
Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) Mr. Watson was undoubtedly loyal to his friend and mentor, Detective Holmes. So, when Holmes was publically reprimanded and his account was blocked, both Holmes and Watson were visibly distressed.
- Harry Potter: Motive–To end his feud long-standing feud with the librarian and end her tyranny once and for all
Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) Everyone knows Harry and the librarian had a long-standing feud. He found her incessant Shh-ing irritating, and she found his Abracadabra practices in public places both annoying and disrespectful.
- Dr. Seuss: Motive–To play “harmless” tricks on the librarian to get her to lighten up
Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) The good doctor could not understand why the librarian insisted on conforming to every rule and procedure and often acted out in blatant rebellion. The harmless tricks took a sinister turn when Seuss began tinkering with library equipment.
- Lady Guinevere: Motive–To get revenge on the librarian for humiliating her by throwing her out of the library
Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) Guinevere was known for using her good looks and charm to pit young men against one another. One time, while two potential suitors dueled for her affection, a fire alarm was accidentally sounded, and the librarian was forced to throw all three parties out of the building at once. Guinevere never recovered from the public embarrassment.
- President Snow: Motive–To seek revenge against the librarian for not allowing him to censor books he found to be offensive
Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) The trouble started when the librarian fined President Snow for blacking out entire passages in books he found to be a threat to the Capital.
- Mrs. Marisa Coulter: Motive–To stop the librarian from including texts that she deemed unsuitable and undermined her research.
Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) Everyone would agree that Mrs. Coulter devoted her life to the process of intercision. After discovering that the librarian had undermined its necessity, she flew into a rage and immediately sent an angry letter to the Magisterium.
Once the information above is revealed to all the other players, displace the blame by reading the following:
“What about Lady Guinevere?!?! Wasn’t there an incident last week where the librarian had to kick her out for sounding an alarm? She looked mortified, and pretty ticked off!”
Before our teens arrived, we set up each location with one weapon and hid clues we’d created that would point toward each suspect’s motive. When they arrived, we had a quick meal of pizza in the meeting room and handed out the cards while we waited for someone to discover the body. Finally, someone ran in to announce that a librarian had been murdered. We ushered the teens to the place where the body had been discovered, reminding them that even though it was in the office, the body may have been moved. Then, we explained how the game would work and that the team who discovered the guilty person, the location of the murder, the murder weapon, and the murderer’s motive would win. We handed out the suspect, weapon, and location cards just like the board game Clue (each team got a random assortment of three cards that they could use to eliminate possibilities). You’ll note from the character cards that even the murderer might not know they were guilty so they could play along too.
After that, we began our game. Since we were in the office already, we allowed the teens to search the area for clues if they wished. One teen unearthed a Darth Vader cake pan, and another found incident report made by the librarian about Detective Holmes who had made a scene at the library after he was told he had a late fee. He had apparently jumped on top of a table and given the rest of the patrons a loud and irritable lecture about overthrowing the tyranny of the librarian. The incident report also stated that Detective Holmes was asked to leave along with his friend Dr. Watson who had stepped in and become upset on behalf of his friend.
We gave the teams some time to make notes and gave the first team (Dr. Watson) a chance to make a guess including the location, suspect, and weapon (but not the motive) just as one would do in the board game version of Clue. The team to their left attempted to disprove them. If they couldn’t with the cards they were given in the beginning of the game, the next team to the left attempted to disprove their guess, and so on until one card was produced to prove their guess was inaccurate.
Next, we took the teens to the children’s room. We’d also put one of the weapons (the stapler) nearby. When we entered, we said something to lead the teens to look for the clue. I don’t quite remember the wording, but it hinted at the feud between the librarian and the boy who lived. Eventually one of the teens figured out that we were talking about Harry Potter and looked for the books from the series on the shelf. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, they found a piece of paper that had been crumpled up and defaced. It was a note from the librarian to Harry Potter informing him in no uncertain terms that she had warned him for the last time about his antics in the library and that, if she had to take further action, he would be permanently banned from the library. We gave the teams some time to make notes and gave the next team (Harry Potter) a chance to make a guess.
Then, we moved to the young adult section which was hiding a pair of scissors and a clue about President Snow hidden in Mockingjay. Again, we gave the teens a hint about where they might find a clue by saying something about a text that had been defaced because it was incriminating to President Snow. One of the teens took the book down and found a photo copy of the passage about President Snow killing his enemies to be blacked out. There was also a sticky note from the librarian informing Snow that he would have to pay for a replacement and that his account was blocked until he did so. We gave the teens some time to jot down some notes and allowed the next team (Dr. Seuss) to make a guess.
We moved into the kitchen after there where a note was stuck to the refrigerator. The teens found it right away along with the atlas laid on the table. The note was from Mrs. Coulter to the Magestrium. In it, Marisa discussed the librarian’s inclusion of books into the collection that argued that intercision was unnecessary and brutal. After it was read to the group, Mrs. Coulter’s team did as they were instructed on their character card and turned the blame to Lady Guinevere by exposing her expulsion from the library the week prior. After that, the teens took notes and the next team (Lady Guinevere) was allowed to make their guess.
Cataloging was our last step for clues. Right when we walked in, someone spotted a red and white hat reminiscent of The Cat in the Hat and figured the clue incriminating Dr. Seuss was underneath it. When they found a journal made from Green Eggs and Ham, they knew they were correct. Inside, they found plans for tinkering with library equipment and a passage expressing a desire for the librarian to lighten up. Another teen found the hole punch nearby while everyone else took notes. President Snow’s team was allowed to make a guess, and then we all moved back to the meeting room.
There, we found the book cart, and Mrs. Coulter’s team was allowed to make their guess. We sat down to finish the pizza, formulate theories, and allow the teams to make another guess if they wished. Then, anyone with an accusation (a guess with the room, suspect, weapon, and motive) could make it. If they were wrong, their team lost. If they were right, they won the game.
In the end, we chose for Dr. Seuss to be the unlikely murderer with the book cart in the office. None of our teens guessed it, but they had a great time playing detective and came very close. All they were missing was the location.
We managed to do this entire program in an hour, but I would highly suggest at least giving yourself an hour and a half because we were very rushed. I also feel sure that the teens would have gotten the answer correct if they had more time to make guesses and process the information.