– Short Review –
Perfect for all curious kids and budding detectives this book takes the Sherlock brand and turns the famous sleuth into a comic strip styled crime solver. Ideal for those who are too old for picture books but still find entire pages of text a bit off putting. A fun caper in which Sherlock and his buddies solve the mysterious “Musgrave Riddle” which promises to bring treasures and rewards to the person who cracks the code.
If you like the Timmy Failure
series of books by Stephan Pastis
you’ll enjoy this!
– Longer Review –
There have been lots of incarnations of Sherlock Holmes and, in many ways, this stays very true to Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation. Here we join Sherlock whilst he is still at school (at The Baker Street Academy, 221B Baker Street) and already best friends with John Watson. We even have James Moriarty as his sworn “enemy” and a clue sniffing hound called Baskerville.
So far, so familiar. What immediately strikes you when you open the book though is the mixed up style in which it’s written. It’s a hybrid of comic strips, illustrations, e-mails, postcards and text that immediately make it fun and interesting for a younger reader, who still likes a picture or three to break up the text.
The story is vintage Sherlock – a mysterious riddle, ghostly happenings and a logical conclusion. The front of the book lists our cast of characters and gives a brief summary of who they are and what they are like. Sherlock’s classmates are on the roll call together with the caretaker and cool new teacher Mr Brunton.
Our story begins when Mr Musgrave, the caretaker, is spooked by a ghost whilst doing his checks around school one night. Baker Street Academy is full of secret rooms, passages, nooks and crannies and when Sherlock discovers, what seems to be, part of a riddle the ghost hunt begins.
In truth, there’s only ever really one candidate for the “ghost” but the tale follows a satisfying trail of clues which lead to several elementary conclusions.
There are logical deductions amongst some scientific trickery and the story is complex enough that it’s not patronisingly simplified for kids.
The riches being sought by the “ghost” are also not as seemed. What glitters is not always gold however what’s uncovered is a treasure trove that’s perfect for the school and allows our caretaker, Mr Musgrave, to learn a lot more about his ancestry.
The book ends with a quick summary of the mystery – so if any little details are missed along the way it allows for a final joining of the dots.
All in all it’s a fun read with some nice touches of humour along the way. I especially enjoyed Daz’s notice on the board:
Lost Mobile Phone
if found Call Daz (crossed out)
My only niggle is that, fun though the layout is, some children may find it confusing at points and struggle to decipher the order in which some pages need to be read. If you’re reading it with your child though, there is plenty of opportunity for role play and to keep an adult reader amused.
I would certainly read other books in this series.
Sherlock and the Baker Street Curse
is published by Scholastic
and is available here
Sam Hearn is an author and illustrator of many books for children. He lives in London. You can visit him at www.samhearn.blogspot.com.
Reviewed by Angela Paull
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