Book Review: The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Great Shelby Holmes is a middle grade book by Elizabeth Eulberg. Meet spunky sleuth Shelby and her sports loving sidekick Watson, as they take on a dog-napper in this fresh twist on Sherlock Holmes. Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth grader. She's nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen-always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes. When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that's eluded her up till now: a friend. The easy-going John isn't sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that will take both their talents to crack.

The Great Shelby Holmes is a wonderful new take on the Sherlock style character. John is used to moving around and is good at finding a new group of friends with school and sports. But, the first other kid he meets in his new home is the quirky Shelby Holmes. She is smart and typically off-putting as most versions of Sherlock you might see- and her friendship with Watson might start off as uneasy, but blossoms into something essential for both of them. Shelby has the memory and deductive skills, John has the more practical knowledge that one needs in daily life. Together they have everything they need. I liked the slow growth of friendship, and the way the mystery is explored and solved. The oddities of Shelby's personality were very well balanced, her reluctance to trust combined with her intelligence made her a tough friend to make, and John's need to fit in and be accepted was a realistic conflict that so many readers might be able to relate to. Hopefully they can be strong enough to stand up and be friends with the outsiders like John. I really enjoyed the changes that were made to the characters, and think it makes the characters much more relateable to young readers from all walks of life. It is important that readers can see something of themselves in the characters of the books they read, and this book delivers. What makes it even better is that at no point is gender or diversity the main focus of the book, so everything is organic rather than feeling like a gimmick to drawn in any particular group of readers.  It all just works perfectly.

The Great Shelby Holmes is a great start to a new series, and one I plan on following. The second book, The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match, is scheduled to be released on September 12 2017, and I am not sure I want to wait that long. I think this might be a new fun, challenging, yet accessible series for many readers. 
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