Scholastic is launching the latest title in its multi-platform series the 39 Clues with some extra multimedia muscle. The publisher is teaming with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and author David Baldacci for a webcast that highlights museum treasures and celebrates the history-mystery elements of the series, as well as the publication of the newest installment, The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers: Day of Doom by Baldacci. Called “Decoding History,” the virtual field trip will air on March 5 at 1 p.m. and will be accessible for free on the Decoding History Web site.
In the webcast, Baldacci serves as guide for a behind-the-scenes tour of various artifacts from the Smithsonian’s national collections, including the compass used on the Lewis and Clark expedition (an object that is featured in Day of Doom), Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch, and the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Museum curators will also take part, helping webcast viewers explore various true mysteries from American history: Who left a secret message in Lincoln’s pocket watch? Why is there a “V” on the original Star-Spangled Banner? According to Scholastic, teachers can use the contents of the webcast to help address the “speaking and listening” Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts.
The project was “a collaboration that happened serendipitously,” says Stacy Lellos, v-p of trade marketing and multiplatform publishing at Scholastic. “David Baldacci had set some of [Day of Doom] in the Smithsonian and had done much of his research there. We had already been talking to the Smithsonian about ways we might work together on projects that tie-in with the 39 Clues; we’ve said all along that the series is ‘subversively educational.’ We thought, ‘How incredible that all these pieces are coming together.’ ”
The idea of a webcast (the publisher has done others, most recently with J.K. Rowling last October) fits well with the multiplatform program. “The digital interaction allows us to reach so many more people than we could at a typical event,” Lellos says. “It’s another way for the fans to be engaged, to have an amazing experience they might not otherwise be able to have.” Those who miss seeing the webcast live will be able to access it after the fact on the 39 Clues Reading Club site.
“I’m thrilled to be part of the joint program between the powerhouse combination of Scholastic and the Smithsonian,” Baldacci said in a statement. “History and books, what could be better? Each entertains and educates.” Baldacci’s Day of Doom is the sixth and final title in the 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers spinoff series. A new spinoff cycle, The 39 Clues: Unstoppable, is set to debut in October 2013. The entire series boasts more than 15 million copies in print worldwide, and there are more than two million registered users for the 39 Clues online game.