Friday, May 11, 2012

Sherlock Holmes for Younger Readers with a little Star Trek trivia thrown in

Sherlock Holmes is back in the news with the return of the PBS series about a modern day Sherlock and Watson. Unfortunately, the series isn’t as family-friendly as I had hoped. Our sixteen-year-old was going to watch the first episode with us and then he had too much homework. After seeing it, I was glad he missed it. I didn’t want to have a conversation about exactly what a dominatrix does. (That’s probably the only time you will see that word in a Project Mayhem post.)

But there are many other ways to introduce younger readers to Mr. Holmes. The original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle aren’t that difficult to read, but some may find them a bit dry. There are so many choices in middle grade and YA books, in fact, it’s hard to pick just a few. Here are two of my favorites:

Modern day twins who are the descendents of Sherlock find his casebook of unsolved crimes in the Sherlock Files series by Tracy Barrett. The first book, THE 100-YEAR-OLD SECRET involves a case on a painting missing for more than a hundred years.  This series gets a thumbs up from my daughter.

Sherlock Holmes - The Legend Begins series by Andrew Lane is more tween/YA.  The first book, DEATH CLOUD, starts when Sherlock is fourteen. The story puts him trying to figure out what happened to two men who died of symptoms resembling the plague. There’s a character who teaches Sherlock some of the methods which lead to his later legendary powers of observation. Here's the paperback cover of the same book (I have a strong preference for one over the other, so I thought I'd post the two):

And because I’ve immersed myself in all things Sherlock lately, here’s some trivia for the Star Trek fans. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Spock gives us a clue to his background, when he says, “An ancestor of mine maintained that if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains – however improbable – must be the truth.” I could believe Spock was a descendent of Holmes. Leonard Nimoy, the first Spock, even played Sherlock on stage in the seventies.

If you want more trivia, I did a post about Star Wars actors who have portrayed Sherlock on my blog. Sherlock Star Wars

So back to books. Are there any other middle grade or YA Sherlock books you can recommend?

~ Dee Garretson


  1. I have heard awesome things about Death Cloud from numerous people. It is supposed to be a great book for both kids and adults. I have to read it! I love Sherlock Holmes. Hounds of the Baskervilles was my fav!

  2. The Hound of the Baskervilles was my favorite too! My daughter loves Sherlock, all formats.

  3. I may have to rescind my library card for admitting this, but I've never actually read or followed anything related to Sherlock Holmes. In my attempt to right this clear wrong, I watched last Sunday's episode. I'm interested, but have a question. Has Sherlock always been that... mean? He seems to go beyond social recluse and straight into egotistical jerk land. I'll watch this week because overall, the show was interesting. I just wasn't real impressed with the main character.

    1. TL, in the original stories he is a classic Victorian gentleman, and not rude to people who come to consult with him.

      Watson describes him like this: "All emotions...were abhorrent to his cold precise but admirably balanced mind." He also says of him, "He never spoke of the softer passions except with a gibe and a sneer," but I don't remember any stories where he behaved quite like the modern one. Those aspects of his personality are all very exaggerated in the Downey movies and the series.

      The original Sherlock would certainly never go to Buckingham Palace in just a sheet!

  4. The sheet part was pretty funny and set the tone for being completely over the top (in my opinion). Thanks for the clarification. When watching it last Sunday, I felt uncomfortable with how mean his character was but I figured I hadn't read any books or seen any movies, so perhaps this was normal.

    I still plan on watching this Sunday. It's my dog's gift to his mom for Mother's Day. :)

  5. I use a children's adapted version of Sherlock Holmes (out of print now, sorry to say) with my high reading group at this time of year. Once they've read a couple of those stories, I move them to the original Conan Doyle. I start by making them re-read one they've read in the adapted version, just so they already know the plot. Once they've become accustomed to the language, I let them read any of the original stories they want. They usually really enjoy themselves. I just started the unit this week, so I don't know how this group is going to make out yet.

  6. I love, love, love Sherlock! I read the real deal when I was a middle-grade reader, so I think kids should go for the adaptations, or find themselves a thick fat volume to get lost in.

  7. Like the Canterbury Tales, Sherlock Holmes can be a bit more bawdy than parents of younger kids might desire. The Tracy Barrett books are GREAT! My youngest LOVES them! For kids detective stories, The Lady Grace series is super. But for younger Holmes fans, The Sherlock Files is tops!Thanks, Dee!

  8. While it is definitely NOT a YA book, you should read Snthony Horowitz's new House of Silk if you want a new Holmes fix. I just wish he had changed a few things so that it could at least be used in high school, but it's definitely an adult title.

  9. I've heard good things about the Enola Holmes middle-grade series, featuring Sherlock Holmes's little sister, but I have yet to read them myself.

  10. I read the first Enola Holmes and really liked it. For the younger set there's also a series called Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars. It focuses on the band of street urchins who help SH out.

    I just finished the third Monstrumologist book, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle makes an appearance. Apparently, he learned a few things from the good doctor of aberrant biology, Dr. Pelinore Warthrop - ha ha!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!