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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Two Excellent Books Introduce New Readers to the World of Sherlock Holmes

Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur; Culbard, I.N. J.; Edginton, Ian (2010)  A Study in Scarlet:  A Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novel. New York:  Sterling

Opening Line:  "In the year 1878, I took my degree as a doctor of medicine at the University of London before proceeding to Netley and the course prescribed for Army Surgeons."

That line, uttered by John H. Watson M.D. is the first line ever written by Conan Doyle in the first story about Sherlock Holmes.  It is a part of a wonderful and fascinating story called "A Study in Scarlet".  But as you can tell by that line, it is not exactly written to be accessible to young readers.  Culbard and Edginton provide visuals that add a level of understanding to the words.  The majority of the book stays true to Conan  Doyle's original language and opens up the story so studnets can appreciate it fully.

The story begins with Dr. Watson's first meeting with Sherlock Holmes and theier agreement to share an apartment.  Before long, Watson is brought into a case that Holmes is working on -- a case involving a dead man, no witnesses, and the word "Rache" written on the wall in blood.  Watson tags along as Holmes uses his remarkable analytic powers to discover the story of this murder.  The twists and turns along the way (a lead suspect is murdered, and the murderer turns out to not be the villain everyone is expecting.)

This book is ideal for fifth or sixth grade and up, both for studnets who find Holmes intriguing in his own right, and for those who have seen the PBS Sherlock series and want to find a way into Conan Doyle's work, this graphic novel version is an excellent way to start.Look at the way a simple illustration of Holmes brings energy to a rather d=pedantic text int he panel below.  Then get hold of the book.  It is a good one.

Mack, Tracey; Citrin, Michael  (2006)  Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars:  The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas New York:  Scholastic.

Opening Lines:  "Ladies and gentlemen, lads and lasses, I take you now to the dangerous heights of the tightrope -- the boldest show  act of all time some twelve spans above us."

Throughout the Sherlock Holmes stories, Holmes employs a group of street kids to track murderers, gather information, stake out buildings, and other tasks.  Although the irregulars are never major characters int eh Conan Doyle stories, they are often pivotal in solving a crime.  Mack and Citron have fleshed these young characters out, and as such, they make an excellent doorway for your readers into the world of Sherlock Holmes.  Wiggins, Ozzie, Rohan, Alfie, and the girl Pilar all are the ages of young readers and as they are drawn into a Holmes case in which the fate of the British Empire depends upon finding a single book, The near misses, death-defying escapes, close calls, and desperate situations that follow will keep readers focused on the story through to the end.  This book seems best for fourth grade and up,  There isn't enough here thematically to make the book worth a class study, and it probably doesn't have enough universal appeal to be a good read-aloud, but it would be an excellent addition to any classroom library,

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