Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0

Graphic/Notebook Novel Combo!

In this re imagining of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes as a child, we find John Watson newly enrolled at Baker Street Academy. He meets Holmes and is a bit taken aback by his observations, but finds Martha and her dog Baskerville a calming presence. Teachers Ms. DeRossi and Mr. Gapp seem very nice as well. After a class trip to the British Arts and Antiquities Museum, the children get enmeshed in the theft of the Alpine Star. They suspect that their one unkind classmate, the trench coat wearing James Moriarty, might be involved, but there are many clues to follow and proof to be found before Sherlock can determine who is responsible for the theft and recover the jewel.

Good Points
While you have to look a bit to find the information, the use of the Sherlock Holmes characters has been approved by his estate. I like to see this stated somewhere in the credits, since young readers sometimes aren't aware of the original. Doyle's work is so impressive because of all of the imitative stories it has spawned. Everything from Springer's Enola Holmes to Andy Lane's Death Cloud books pay homage to this fantastic British author.

This book is a completely fresh spin on the tale, however, since it is a heavily illustrated graphic/notebook novel mix! The drawings are not only appealing and engaging, but crisp and clear. I loved how the pages were designed; it's a bit hard to describe, but there is a good variety of framing, panoramic settings, insets, and page decorations that makes this very visually appealing. Usually, I find illustrations a distraction from the text, but these really supported the story well and were fun to look at. I'm assuming that the illustrations are in black and white, but I did look at the Advance Readers' Copy and haven't seen a finished one to compare yet, but the black and white are still stunning.

The characters are all true to their original incarnations, with the addition of much more personality for Martha Hudson, who is given a lot more input into the action of the story. Since it seems to be a boarding school, it's nice that her family home is nearby, and her mother is around to be a parental influence... and provide cookies. Having a cute dog like Baskerville is never a bad idea, either.

This is a great way to introduce a classic mystery story to students who will read ANY book as long as it has pictures!
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