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Becoming Holmes by Sh. Peacock

Peacock, Shane.  Becoming Holmes.  Toronto, ON:  Tundra Books, 2012.  Print.

This is the final book in The Boy Sherlock Holmes series.  In the first five books, Shane Peacock developed the landscape of Holmes’ early life, preparing the reader for his transition into the adult genius-detective that we all know and love.  Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not supply much information about Holmes’ childhood, so authors have great scope to imagine how such an extraordinary person as Sherlock Holmes grew up to become what he is.  Shane Peacock is not the first to create a prequel series, nor is he likely to be the last.

Prequels to much-loved stories are always a risk.  However, Peacock has done a remarkably good job of imagining Holmes’ early years while staying true enough to Conan Doyle’s character that readers will not be jarred when they progress from this series to the original series.  In this rendition of Holmes’ childhood, much is explained by the fact that he is a half-Jew and that his parents have died leaving the boy in the care of the apothecary, Sigerson Bell.  Bell has taught Holmes much of his vast knowledge base as well as some disguise and martial arts techniques.

In this series we also meet Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, already ensconced in government, as well as youthful versions of Inspector Lestrade and the arch-enemy, here called Malefactor.   By the end of this book, Holmes has matured and thinks, “I am a man… It is just the beginning”, giving readers a segué into the original series.

While other series about Holmes’ youth, for example Andrew Lane’s  Sherlock Holmes, the Legend Begins Series address older teen readers,  Peacock has written these volumes for 10 to 14 year olds.   His use of language is age-appropriate and the final volume, like the earlier ones, is action-packed with lots of intrigue and just enough of the macabre to keep pre-teens and early teens engaged.   Becoming Holmes is a good read that is highly recommended for public libraries and both elementary and junior-high school libraries everywhere.

Highly Recommended:  4 stars out of 4
Reviewer:  Sandy Campbell

Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines.  Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.