Sherlock Bones and the Case of the Crown Jewels is the first book in a new series of mystery spoofs based (loosely!) on the Sherlock Holmes stories. Sherlock Bones and his companion Dr Catson are drawn into solving a crime when the crown jewels are stolen from Kennel Palace, with multiple suspects and a complex trail to sniff out.
The book includes a number of puzzles, mazes, search games, and silhouette matches that are woven into the narrative action. I found this a very interesting concept, slightly reminiscent of the ‘Choose your own Adventure’ books, so a child reader can feel involved in the story as they help the heroes solve this exciting detective mystery. The inclusion of so many games for the reader to solve may also encourage an element of collaborative reading, whether in class or within a family setting, with one reading the story aloud, and the other solving the puzzles; I would expect this type of book to lend itself to a great deal of productive talk as the plot unravels.
Younger children will quickly notice that all the characters are animals, which adds to the appeal of the book for 7-9-year-olds. Bones and Catson clearly play to the strengths of their breeds. Reviews by child readers stress the humour and action-packed plot of the story – my favourite part was the cat chase. One parent remarked, ‘ …this was an intriguing mystery full of red herrings! Several times my boys thought they had discovered the identity of the thief only to realise the thief had evaded them yet again’.
The story is cleverly illustrated throughout with black-and-white, cartoon-like images linked to the plot, which help the observant reader to develop their understanding of each character.
I would recommend the book as part of a school or class library for lower KS2 children as a fun, light-hearted read for those who enjoy collaborative reading and perhaps, in the future, children may be inspired to find out more about the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories!
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