“Life, my dear Watson, is infinitely stranger than fiction; stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We could not conceive the things that are merely commonplace to existence. If we could hover over this great city, remove the roofs, and peep in at the things going on, it would make all fiction, with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions flat, stale and unprofitable.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
If (like I did) you loved Season 3 of "Sherlock", I hope you'll re-visit Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works between seasons. If you have not yet read his novels or short stories, you'll be pleasantly surprised (like I was) by how hard the writers and creators of the clever "Sherlock" series worked to keep the modernized series and characters true to Doyle's original stories!
As I'm reading the books, I can't help but picture Cumberbatch as the violin-loving Holmes and Freeman as long-suffering Watson. They really bring out the humor and genius that was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Sherlock Holmes, literature's most famous detective, was first introduced to the world at Christmas time in 1887 - when Arthur Conan Doyle's novel A Study in Scarlet was published in "Beeton's Christmas Annual".
Here is how Sherlock Holmes is described by Watson:
His very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination. His hands were invariably blotted with ink and stained with chemicals, yet he was possessed of extraordinary delicacy of touch, as I frequently had occasion to observe when I watched him manipulating his fragile philosophical instruments.
...Sherlock Holmes had not finished breakfast. I picked up a magazine from the table...One of the articles had a pencil mark at the heading. I began to run my eye through it...'The Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study,' said the writer. 'Let the inquirer begin by mastering elementary problems...By a man's fingernails, by his boots, by his trouser knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression -- by each of these things a man's calling is revealed.'
"What ineffable twaddle!" I cried, slapping the magazine down on the table. "I never read such rubbish in my life...I see, Holmes, that you have read this article since you have marked it. It is evidently the theory of some armchair lounger who evolves all these neat little paradoxes in the seclusion of his own study. It is not practical. I should like to see him clapped down in a third-class carriage on the Underground, and asked to give the trades of all his fellow travelers. I would lay a thousand to one against him."
"You would lose your money," Holmes remarked calmly. "As for the article, I wrote it myself."
Kids love mysteries and detective stories (they're important for critical thinking), but after they get past the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys stage, they'll want more!
I found an excellent Reader's Digest "Best Loved Books For Young Readers" Great Cases of Sherlock Holmes, that is very nicely condensed, without sacrificing Doyle's original text in the eight short stories that are presented.
Another excellent Sherlock Holmes option for kids ages 8 and up is storyteller Jim Weiss' riveting Greathall Productions recording, Sherlock Holmes for Children, which includes four stories (available here) - my husband and I enjoyed them as much as our children did! Jim's also done a recording of The Hound of the Baskervilles - not to be missed! (available here).
By the way, have you seen the cute cameo Benedict C. had on Sesame Street?
Want more mysteries? Check out my past post, Who-Dunnits for Pre-Teens, here. Do you have any to recommend that I missed?