Review Blog

Mar 20 2017

The Great Shelby Holmes girl detective by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Ill. by Matt Robertson. Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408871478
(Age: 8-10) Recommended. Shelby Holmes is a feisty nine-year-old girl detective who loves to solve mysteries in her local neighbourhood. She lives upstairs in Apartment 221B Baker Street Harlem, New York City, with her family, Mrs. Hudson their housekeeper and Sir Arthur their English bulldog. Shelby is a well-known and liked figure in her neighbourhood, where she uses her logic and skills of observation to solve crimes.
As eleven-year old John Watson and his mother move in downstairs, a loud explosion startles them. A rather dishevelled Shelby comes down to apologise for the commotion and she totally surprises them with her astute observations. She deduces that John has diabetes, that his parents were recently divorced and Mrs. Watson had been an Army doctor in Afghanistan. John's observations and feelings are openly shared with the reader; his relationship with his father, who does not keep in contact, his mother's concerns about his diabetes and his friendship with Shelby. He expresses his feelings through journal writing recording his feelings and daily adventures with Shelby.
Shelby takes John under her wing and they venture all over, meeting a diverse mix of shopkeepers and neighbourhood characters. Their first mystery to solve together involves a stolen dog, dog trainers and culminates at the Dog Show. Along the way, John meets some new friends and becomes closer to Shelby. The scenes at the Dog Show are humorous, as John sneaks Sir Arthur on to the subway train and has to handle the British bulldog in the ring.
Matt Robertson's fun drawings are entertaining; there is Shelby's frizzled hair after the explosion, the paw embellishments, Sir Arthur's poses and the colourful front cover. Author Elizabeth Eulberg has creatively woven characters and elements of the Sherlock Holmes novels into The Great Shelby Holmes Girl Detective. With themes of friendship, solving mysteries and overcoming worry and anxiety, this is an enjoyable novel suited to ages 8-10.
Rhyllis Bignell

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