Vapid reading, vanishing childhood heroes, and the very cool SHERLOCK FILES

Back in the simpler school days, I would get completely lost in a good mystery. Whenever I think about reading as a kid, I think about Nancy Drew. I don’t know how many hours I spent with those books after I was tucked in bed, but it was a lot, over a long time. I might have read every single one (and there are a lot…someone just kept writing them long after, I must suppose, Carolyn Keene stopped…assuming she ever started, that is). Actually, after writing that sentence, I jetted over to wikipedia and it turns out that I was right, she never did. She was a pen name for a host of ghost writers, if my cursory research is to be believed.

Okay, well, there’s one childhood hero that’s just disintegrated beneath my fingers as they tap across the keyboard. It’s possible that the internet allows us access to too much information way too quickly. But that’s another post.

After Nancy Drew (and the Hardy Boys of course; having learned my lesson I’m not going to wikipedia them…), came James Bond and Perry Mason (which I distinctly remember a teacher telling my mom were “vapid” books with which I was wasting my time which I protested vehemently). Also Agatha Christie and the great “The Cat Who…” series by Lilian Jackson Braun about a retired reporter and his Siamese cats who solve crimes. But with the exception of the really wonderful Flavia de Luce series, I haven’t read any in awhile.

Until the Sherlock Files, which are a really fun way to introduce young readers to mysteries, as a young brother and sister, direct descendants of Sherlock Holmes, put their mystery-solving smarts to the tests and solve his unsolved cases.

Title: The 100-Year-Old Secret (The Sherlock Files, Book 1)
Author: Tracy Barrett
Genre: Mystery! (I know I don’t have many of those!)
Age: Upper Elementary and Lower Middle Grade

Review and Summary:

Xena and Xander move to London and quickly discover a family secret: they are descendants of Sherlock Holmes! Almost immediately, they get wrapped up in one of his unsolved cases and start to follow the clues to close the case once and for all. The mystery is easy to follow but interesting and will get young readers caught up in the suspense and even guessing at the answer themselves.

Follow up with the kids:

Xena and Xander never knew they had famous detective blood in their family: their parents never told them. But they were raised on a great detective game. They would watch people walk down the street and try to guess the story behind the people (what were their jobs? where were they going? where were they coming from?) It’s neat to see the clues they look at and how they make their deductions. This would be a great game to play with the kids. Bored at the airport? At a restaurant? This game would teach kids to be observant. Too often wo many of our kids today are so plugged in they hardly notice there are other people around at all. It’s also a good lesson in not falling into stereotypes. And most importantly, if we all took a minute to think about our fellow human beings? Well, that can’t be a bad thing.

5 Responses to “Vapid reading, vanishing childhood heroes, and the very cool SHERLOCK FILES”

  1. What a great way to pass on interest in Sherlock Holmes books. I haven’t heard of that book before. Are you going to see the next Sherlock Holmes movie when it releases soon?
    And as for the pen name, that must have been such a disappointment. It’s becoming quite popular to have lots of writers for series, i.e. magic school bus.

  2. Oooh…I didn’t see the first one, but I’m intrigued by it–it looks good, although I tend to get more and more quesy about violence and scariness as I get older. Soon I will be watching only Winnie the Pooh movies. 🙂

  3. Wendy, I never knew Nancy Drew until my step sister came into my life in the mid-80s, bringing with her an entire collection of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books (in fact, she might have had all of the Nancy Drews). She was a voracious reader and I got hooked. Before Nancy Drew, I always loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books, but really, they were not very high on the literati spectrum.

    This new book sounds like a great start for budding detectives and what a terrific game to play with kids. Thanks, as always, for introducing me to some of the great books out there…

    By the way, are you doing Nano or PiBoIdMo this month? If not, you should definitely consider doing one or the other next year…I think you must have some great stories in you!

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