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Peterborough

A mystery with classroom appeal

Author links new novel to Common Core

  • Al Struthers of Peterborough has written a novel that adapts well to Common Core standards that teachers will be focusing on
  • Al Struthers of Peterborough has written a novel that adapts well to Common Core standards that teachers will be focusing on
  • Al Struthers of Peterborough has written a novel that adapts well to Common Core standards that teachers will be focusing on

PETERBOROUGH — Five years ago, Al Struthers of Peterborough wrote his first novel, a tale about the strange things that happen after an 11-year-old boy finds an old book in an attic. The book disappears, then mysteriously returns and eventually leads the boy through a series of clues left by a New York City architect who vanished in the mid 1800s — a man who appears to be reaching out to help solve a mystery.

“It’s a mystery with a twist at the end. Every good book has one,” Struthers says. “I wrote it for kids between the ages of 8 and 13. It’s more emotionally engaging than chapter books, but not as dark as some young adult fiction.”

“The Case of Secrets” was published last November, and now Struthers is trying out a unique approach to get his book in the hands of its target audience.

“These days, everything to do with marketing falls on the shoulders of authors,” he says. “I know teachers, parents and librarians are actively looking for books. So those are the people I’m talking to.”

Struthers has put together a series of handouts for teachers that shows how the book can be used to teach the skills required by the national Common Core standards, intended to promote students’ ability to read, write and explain their thinking.

“I gave an advance copy to a friend, a teacher in Oxford, Maine,” Struthers says. “She said to me, ‘Al, this has Common Core written all over it. Teachers are going to love this.’”

Struthers says many teachers are finding it challenging to adapt to Common Core, so his material provides a roadmap for how his book can be used as a teaching tool. He provides sample passages from the book with questions teachers can ask that will fit the expectations of the Common Core guidelines. He’s also planning a video that can guide teachers in how to use the book in the classroom.

“I’ve been sending the book and a cover letter to middle school guidance directors or assistant superintendents,” Struthers says. “The initial response has been very strong. There’s a lot of enthusiasm. Teachers are looking for ways to meet these new requirements.”

Struthers, 57, has been writing for years, but “The Case of Secrets” is his first published novel.

“This book was a blast to write,” he says. “It’s a genre that hasn’t been fully exploited. It’s a great book for boys. Boys need action, and I believe this book provides that.”

Struthers says the book will be on sale at the Toadstool Bookshops or online through Amazon.com.

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