Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Long Series of Such Titles Pt. 3

Here we are, at the end of the year.  And here I am at the end of my reading list for the year.  Part 1 and Part 2 can be found in the attached links.  Let's finish this year up with some books!

The Enola Holmes Series: The Case of the Missing Marquess, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline & The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye – Nancy Springer
Wow, I didn't realize that I'd read this entire series this year.  These are such fun books that I find myself recommending them to anyone who will listen!  Plenty of my fifth graders have fallen in love with this series as well this year.  And I'm hoping that the upcoming film is true to the books.

I am not overly interested in Arthur Conan Doyle's life, but this year I made it a point to read a little bit more about the man who made Sherlockiana possible. 

Memories and Adventures – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This is a cornerstone text of a Sherlockian library, so I felt it important to make it through this book.  If I hadn't done it on audio, I'm not sure I could have done it.  For me, this book is like high school geometry: I'm glad I did it, but I wouldn't choose to do it again.

On Conan Doyle: Or the Whole Art of Storytelling – Michael Dirda
This book was a whole other thing.  Dirda's biography was brisk and spent much more time focused on Sherlock Holmes and his role in Doyle's life.  If I am going to recommend a Doyle biography to someone, Dirda's book is definitely my choice.

Speaking of Michael Dirda, he heads up this next small section: books that aren't Sherlockian, but have enough Sherlockian content to consider.

Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting and Living with Books – Michael Dirda
Noted bookman, Michael Dirda has collected numerous articles on his life in the book world.  A member of the Baker Street Irregulars, and author of what one blogger has called his choice for Arthur Conan Doyle biographies, you can expect some great Sherlockian content in these pages.  And if you're reading this blog, chances are you're interested in books, so the rest of the book should be right up your alley, too.

Revenge of the Nerd: The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would be Booger – Curtis Armstrong
Yeah, a book with the word "Booger" in its title.  If you only know Curtis Armstrong as the gross guy from the Revenge of the Nerds movies, there's a lot more in this book for you to discover.  He's obviously a Sherlockian, joining his first scion when he was still in elementary school, and he has some great stories and thoughts on Sherlockians and our hobby scattered throughout.  I recommend doing this on audio, as it is narrated by Armstrong.  It's almost like hanging out and getting to hear some great Hollywood stories straight from the Booger's mouth.

Baker Street Reveries: Sherlockian Writings 2006-2016 – Leslie Klinger
I love everything Leslie Klinger puts out.  I've only read his Sherlockian stuff so far, but I got his new collection of 1920's crime fiction for Christmas just because his writing and editing projects are so well done.  So often, Klinger is obscured by his topic of study (Dracula, H.P. Lovecraft, authors taking on other seminal creations, etc.), but in this collection of essays, it's just the man and his thoughts on Sherlock Holmes.  A great book.

Sherlock Holmes for Dummies – Steve Doyle & David Crowder
Remember the For Dummies series that seemed to be everywhere a decade or so ago?  Those books were wildly popular for a reason.  Their quick and easy format is a fun way to learn (or relearn) some of the important points about Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Victorian London.

East Wind Coming: A Sherlock Holmes Study Book – Yuichi Hirayama & John Hall
This book really reminded me of "Dear Starrett, Dear Briggs."  Two Sherlockians question and discuss important points of Sherlockian lore and scholarship.  It was nice to hear what Sherlockians in another part of the world have to say about this interest that we all share.

Sherlock Holmes by Gas Lamp: Highlights from the First Four Decades of the Baker Street Journal – Philip Shreffler
I've talked in other posts about how much I enjoy reading the early scholarship of Sherlockiana.  And this book delivers in spades.  Some of the most important writings of our hobby are collected in this book, and even though I've heard a lot of it referenced and discussed before I read this book, I was nice to have the actual source material in front of me.  Definitely an important book to have.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: A Textbook of Friendship – Christopher Morley
This is a strange book.  Christopher Morley is great, and I love a lot of stuff he's done, but this book was essentially some canonical stories reprinted with only a handful of original material added.  The discussion questions were interesting, but as someone who makes discussion questions for a living, I was a little more critical of this book than the average reader probably would be.

Sherlock Holmes: The Reification of Hans Gerber – George Mann
This is an audio production put out by Big Finish with a full cast.  If you enjoy radio dramas or scripted podcasts, this is right up your alley.  Big Finish has a line of Sherlock Holmes audio dramas, and I found this one to be a fun time.  I will be dipping back into their catalog soon.

Sherlock Holmes is Like: Sixty Comparisons for an Incomparable Character – Christopher Redmond
Disclaimer: I have an essay in this book, but don't let that turn you off.  As a contributor, I got to see the table of contents before it was available to the public, and Chris Redmond has another great collection on his hands here.  From Robin Hood to Lucy from the Peanuts comics, there are so many great comparisons here, you never know what you're going to get next.

Holmes and Watson – June Thompson
This was a book that had been on my TBR list for a long time and I'm glad I finally got to it.  We've all read Sherlockian research that reads like a dusty old textbook, but that is not the case here.  Thompson's background in fiction lends itself well here and her narrative style makes the analysis flow.

Well, that's it for 2018, unless I somehow squeeze one more book in before midnight.  Up next on my Sherlockian reading will be Bill Mason's new book: A Holmes by Any Other Name.  And I might read one or two other Sherlockian books next year as well.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Long Series of Such Titles Pt. 2

Last week, I started quick write-ups of all of the Sherlockian reading I did in 2018.  Here is part two of my list.  Last week's list included some of the great journals out there as well as some other titles of interest.  This week, I want to highlight some graphic novels, books on theology, and a slew of other titles.

The Grand Game: A Celebration of Sherlockian Scholarship Volumes 1 & 2 – Leslie Klinger & Laurie King
Two different books, but I'm lumping them together because they are quite foundational texts.  Editors Klinger and King have collected some of the most influential writings in Sherlockiana over the decades in these two volumes.  I think these two books alone might be the best Sherlockian titles I've read all year.

I also read some interesting graphic novels this year:

Sherlock Holmes: Year One – Scott Beatty
This title creates a new chronology that falls between "A Study in Scarlet" and "Young Sherlock Holmes."  Holmes and Watson meet and a new origin story is created showing the beginnings of Holmes' skills.  Dynamite puts out some really good titles in their Sherlock Holmes series, but I wouldn't say this was one of their best.

The Liverpool Demon – Leah Moore
This title is also from Dynamite and I enjoyed it much more.  Holmes and Watson find themselves investigating a series of gruesome murders that the locals are saying are being done by a monster named Spring Heeled Jack.  "No ghosts need apply," could have been Holmes' motto for this case.  There are some nice canonical nods in this tale and plenty of good original material.

A Study in Emerald – Neil Gaiman
Have you ever read Neil Gaiman's classic short story?  This is that story told in graphic novel format.  If you haven't, I would recommend hitting up the original version first.  I really liked this version and would say that my enjoyment of it was enhanced from already being familiar with the story.

And I found some great books out there that merge Sherlockiana and theology, which is always an interesting crossover for me:

The Wisdom of Sherlock Holmes: His Musings on God, Human Nature and Justice – Chase Thompson
This isn't just a theology text, more of a collection of essays.  Each chapter uses canonical information to back up Thompson's argument on each topic: atheist or believer in God?, compassion vs. sexism, are humans inherently evil?, and more.  A quick and thoughtful book that I really recommend.

God and Sherlock Holmes – Wayne Wall
An older title, but worth picking up for anyone interested in the cross-section between religion and Sherlock Holmes.  I didn't necessarily agree with every argument in this book, but they were well worth checking out.

And then there were the wide swath of other Sherlockian books that I tore through this year:

A Study in Scarlet Women – Sherry Thomas
I mentioned earlier in the year that I never completed this book.  I was hoping for a retelling of "A Study in Scarlet" but with Holmes as a woman.  It was more of an original tale with the Sherlock Holmes name slapped onto it.  Another person told me that the Sherlockian connection became evident at the end of the book, but I never made it that far.

A Sherlock Holmes Commentary – David Martin Dakin
I can't believe it took me this long to finally pick up Dakin's book!  It was high on the Shaw 100, and I can see why.  Delving into curiosities, continuities, chronologies, and other things that don't start with the letter C, it should definitely be a part of every Sherlockian's book collection.

Cracking the Code of the Canon: How Sherlock Holmes Made His Decisions – Diane Gilbert Madsen
Here is an interesting take on canonical information.  This book is a nice collection of different essays.  Madsen uses statistical information to look at Sherlock Holmes and his methods in this quick an engaging read.

The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes – Liese Sherwood Fabre
I picked up this book at Holmes, Doyle and Friends in March and quickly tore through it.  Mrs. Fabre gave an interesting talk at the symposium and her book followed suit.  It's more of a look at the Victorian world in which Holmes lived in and gives the reader plenty of background knowledge of what life would've been like.

Practical Handbook of Sherlockian Heraldry – Julian Wolff
I am not someone who's typically interested in genealogy, so I was never going to be the right audience for this book.  But it's on the Shaw 100, so I worked my way through it.  If you are interested in family crests and background of canonical characters, this is a book for you.

Some of My Favorite Sherlockian Things – E.A. Livingston
A delightful collection of essays by a Sherlockian I hadn't heard of until I was browsing the MX Publishing website one day.  Although, I'd never heard of Livingston before this book, I was immediately captivated with his thoughts on the Canon and his delivery.

Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle & The Bookman – Susan Dahlinger & Leslie Klinger
As someone interested in the early commentary on Sherlockiana, this book was right up my alley.  Dahlinger and Klinger have collected all of the mentions of Holmes in The Bookman literary magazine over its forty year run in this great omnibus of early Sherlockian writing.

Island of the Mad – Laurie King
I actually just finished this book today.  With any series that has run as long as this one has (15 stories!), individual books can tend to not live up to the rest of the series.  That is not the case with King's latest Holmes and Russell adventure.  I tore through this in one day and really enjoyed our heroes adventures in Venice.  

I will finish up my list next week (I read a lot this year).  Compliments of the season to everyone!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Long Series of Such Titles

It's the middle of December, and most sites have packed it in for the year and are posting Top 10 lists.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, you can forget about that here.  Because as a voracious reader and ardent Sherlockian, I have too many books to come up with a Top 10 list.

I posted earlier about my failure to read a canonical story every week this year.  At the time of that post, I had read 23 stories, not too shabby if I do say so myself.  I'm ending the year with 29 stories under my belt.  Now that I think about it, I'll probably squeeze one more in just so I can say I read half the Canon in 2018.

But my year was more than just the Canon.  Journals, scholarship, pastiche, memoirs, essays, you name it.  If it was text related to Sherlock Holmes, count me interested.

By my count, I read over 50 other books and publications this year.  So I'm not going to do an in-depth analysis of all of the Sherlockian things I read in 2018, but some really great writings passed through my hands this year and I would at least like to get their names out to you over the next few weeks.  Hopefully something new will be on this list.  Enjoy!

The Baker Street Journal: Volume 3, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (1948), Volume 22, No. 2 (1972), Volume 67, No. 4 (2017), Christmas Annual 2017, Volume 68, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (2018)
First and foremost: if you are a Sherlockian and you don't subscribe to the BSJ.  WHAT?  I was lucky enough to get quite a few old issues of the BSJ this year and figure if I read one issue a month, I will have years of great writing ahead of me.  The BSJ puts out four standard issues a year, along with one Christmas annual that devotes the entire issue to one topic.  I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that without the BSJ, Sherlockiana would not exist today.

The Watsonian: Volume 5 No. 1 (2017), Volums 6 Nos. 1 & 2
Although it's only been around for five years, the Watsonian is a cornerstone publication for a Sherlockian library.  Each article has a different vibe than the one that came before it.  (Disclaimer: I've been published in here a few times, but trust me, there's good stuff in there, too!)  I joined this year and am kicking myself for not doing so earlier.  At least I don't have as many back issues to catch up on with this journal!

The Sherlock Holmes Society Journal: Winter 2017 & Summer 2018
Did you know that Sherlock Holmes mania isn't exclusive to America?  Sometimes we Yanks have so much Sherlockiana over here, it's easy to forget that we are really the step-children in this fandom.  The Sherlock Holmes Society Journal is a fantastic way to stay abreast of what is happening on the other side of the pond.  Whether it's publishing news, visits to Portsmouth or updates on names that sound just a bit fancier than our own, this publication will keep you in the know if you're interested in what's going on in the mother land.

The Serpentine Muse Volume 34 Number 4 
I could've sworn that I'd read more than one issue this year, so I have to go back and check my shelf.  I know a few members of The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, and their journal reflects the members that I'm lucky enough to know: intelligent, witty, and classy.  If you want to feel like you're part of a group of high class folk, this journal is for you.

The Holmes & Watson Report: January & March 2000
Did you know that Brad Keefauver used to put out a journal?  Well actually, he put out a million different publications.  Imagine if Sherlock Peoria were in print format and Brad had convinced a handful of other like-minded folk to join in this endeavor.  Although this journal is no longer in print, it's worth checking out just for the reports written by Holmes' bearskin rug! 

The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library: The Valley of Fear & The Return of Sherlock Holmes – Leslie Klinger
For those of us interested in even MORE annotations than what can be found in Baring-Gould's and Klinger's Annotated editions comes The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library.  My collection grows steadily by a few volumes each year.  And they are an unrivaled resource at scion meetings when discussing particular stories.

Sherlockian Shtick – Art Schroeder
And no for something completely different!  Art Schroeder was a longtime Sherlockian in the St. Louis area before my time.  Blessed with wit, but not artistic ability, he was quick to turn a Sherlockian phrase into a humorous stick-figure drawing.  This locally produced work collects many of his Sherlockian stick figure puns.  A quick read, and one that's fun no matter what page you're on.

Sherlock and the Ladies – Brad Keefauver
Yup, Keefauver's on the list again.  Not only did he put out journals before the internet, but he also wrote a few books!  This one takes you through Holmes' relationships and interactions with the women of the Canon.  A clever look on a subject that is too often scandalized by other writers.

One Fixed Point in a Changing Age: A New Generation on Sherlock Holmes – Krstina Manente
Have you heard of this BBC show called Sherlock?  Turns out, it brought a whole new wave of Sherlockians to the fold and with them came a fresh new look at our hobby.  From shipping and Tumblr to re-evaluating some long-held beliefs about the Canon, it was a seismic shift in Sherlockiana.  If you are even remotely interested in how a new generation of Sherlockian looks at this hobby, this is the book for you.

Trenches: The War Service of Sherlock Holmes – Robert Katz
Every year, the Baker Street Irregulars Press puts out a few books focusing on a specific topic.  One of their releases this year focused on the manuscript of "His Last Bow" and the role that World War I played on Sherlock Holmes and his world.  A reproduction of the manuscript for "His Last Bow" is included, but these books are so much more.  It includes everything from an investigation on Tokay and a look at how Rathbone and Bruce influenced the war effort.  These books routinely sell out, so if you haven't picked up your copy, now is the time!

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter – Theodora Goss
Not every book on this list is going to be a good fit for me.  This is one.  "The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter" has an interesting plot, Dr. Jekyll's daughter is looking into her father's past with the help of Sherlock Holmes, but I've never been a fan of alternating narrators.  This book is told in a conversational style between the main characters and is sure to be a favorite of many people out there, but my hang ups with narration kept me from really enjoying it.

The Illustrious Clients’ Fourth Casebook – Steven Doyle
The Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis are a powerhouse scion society.  And when one of your members is the guy who prints the Baker Street Journal, it's no surprise that they put out some good quality books as well.  This is the fourth collection of writings by members of their society, and they don't show any sign of slowing down yet.

Mycroft and Sherlock – Kareem Abdul Jabbar
I'm going to wrap this week's list up with a recent addition, "Mycroft and Sherlock" released less than two months ago.  If you liked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's "Mycroft Holmes," you'll like this one as well.  If you didn't for whatever reason, give the second installment a try.  This is one of the few instances where the sequel surpasses the first.  The titular characters are beginning to embody their canonical selves in this book, and it was a lot of fun to read.  Definitely time well spent.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

On Our First Meeting

Imagine getting to read the Canon again for the first time.  You've never heard the name "Moriarty."  You have yet to learn about the dog that did nothing in the night-time.  You are unfamiliar with what constitutes a three pipe problem. 

Would you erase all of your Sherlockian knowledge to relive the first thrill of “Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”?

No matter your answer, none of us will ever get to relive those first trips into the world of Holmes and Watson.  But I get the next best thing.  Each year, I get to introduce 24 students to some of the most iconic characters in all of literature.  Granted, not every story hits with each kid, and some kids don't care at all.  But the majority of them are into a good story, no matter how old it is. 

And I get to be their tour guide.  We read abridged versions of "The Red-Headed League," "The Blue Carbuncle," "The Speckled Band," and "A Scandal in Bohemia" as well as a graphic novel version of "The Copper Beeches."

So, I'm going to be lazy in this week's blog post.  I'm not going to blather on about whatever Sherlockian topic has been occupying my mind (trust me, there's always plenty).  But instead, I'm going to turn the blog over to comments made by my students about each of these classic stories.  Seeing them through a child's eyes are almost as good as reliving it for yourself!


I could predict that the Red-Headed League was a sham.

The person who got caught ha d really good idea to rob the bank!

It was cool that Duncan Ross and Vincent Spaulding almost escaped.

A weird job leads to a famous criminal.

The villains should have kept the league open while they rob a bank.  Then no one would have
suspected a thing.

I like that Holmes notices all of the details throughout the story


I didn’t like that John Horner got blamed for the crime.

It has pretty good clues that all match up.

Just a simple hat and a goose led to a stolen gem.

There’s a gem inside a goose.  Who on earth does that?

James Ryder wasn’t that smart.

There were so many different obstacles in the story that Sherlock had to deal with to catch the villain.


I like how smart the villain is

This is the best because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

I like how they used the murder weapon.

I like how scary it was.

It was cool when the snake killed Grimseby Roylott.

Julia’s last word was, “Speckled Band.”  She should have said, “Bye” or “I love you” instead.

I like the villain’s role in this story and how selfish he is.

The surprise at the end was great when I found out what killed Julia Stoner.


It was confusing until Holmes explained it at the end

A dog bit the guy’s face!

I didn’t like that the girl had to cut her hair.

The mystery felt unfinished.

This story is really weird.

I was really sad for the daughter that had been locked up.


I like it because Irene Adler outsmarts Sherlock.

The ending was unexpected.  I was not expecting Irene to leave!

I liked Irene Adler’s note.

This is my favorite because the great Sherlock Holmes lost to a woman.

Irene and Norton get to live happily ever after!

This story tricked me into thinking something else.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Interesting Interview: Shannon Carlisle

One of the most earnest and interesting Sherlockians out there in my opinion is Shannon Carlisle.  Shannon was invested at last year's BSI Dinner as "Beacons of the Future" and has been routinely teaching her fourth graders about Sherlock Holmes with her immersive classroom experience.  As if creating new Sherlockians one class at a time weren't enough, Shannon created the Junior Sherlockian Society that acknowledges and guides all of those young folks out there who are interested in The Great Detective.  She is a woman who is shepherding a new generation of Sherlockians by the score.  And I finally got her to sit still long enough for an interview!

How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

Sherlockian [shur-lok-ee-uh n]
1. A Sherlock Holmes aficionado (Enthusiasts can be generalists, specialists, purists, etc. and often enjoy playing the Grand Game with other enthusiasts.)
2. A student who is completing an in-depth study of Sherlock Holmes’s character traits, observational skills, capacity for critical thought, and inductive and deductive reasoning in 221b Baker Street of Moore Elementary School, Franklin, Tenn.
3. A student who is embracing the Sherlockian mindset (to think and act like Sherlock Holmes to become a better student) and employing the Sherlockian skills to support that mindset (to be observant, active participant in their learning, and critical thinker) in 221b Baker Street of Moore Elementary School, Franklin, Tenn.

How did you become a Sherlockian?

Although I have always appreciated a fine mystery, I didn’t become a Sherlockian until eight years ago.  My classroom has always had a theme.  For years, my classroom was “the garden,” and I was the “kid gardener” charged with nurturing “the seeds,” my students.  However, year after year, some of my students did not achieve optimal growth under my care.  After reflection, I concluded that some of my “seeds” did not always possess the mindset and skills necessary to promote optimal growth.  Therefore, when I became my school’s accelerated learning teacher in 2011, charged with meeting the needs of advanced learners in kindergarten through fourth grade, my theme changed.

My classroom became 221b Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes’s home, because I felt that my students could relate to and learn from Sherlock Holmes’s character traits, observational skills, capacity for critical thought, and inductive and deductive reasoning.  The Sherlockian theme encourages my students to employ the mindset and skills needed for optimal growth, provides an engaging framework for learning, and supports students in their attempts to be productive citizens.

What is your favorite canonical story?

My favorite canonical story is BLUE because I truly enjoy experiencing the “whimsical, little incident” with students.  As a pre-reading activity, the students examine one of the tale’s settings by participating in a visual literacy task.  During the learning activity, the students usually analyze an 1888 photo of Covent Garden Market.  As they read the story, the students note their questions- their curiosities and confusions.  After reading the text, the students review the plot by sequencing copies of Sidney Paget’s illustrations and retelling the story with Chris Schweizer’s BLUE paper dolls.  They also view photos of the artifacts contained in Paul Churchill’s BLUE evidence box and attempt to add additional items.

In the spring of 2017, my fourth grade students added Mr. Baker’s walking stick.  They identified it as an exceptional artifact from the story.  If Mr. Baker had not had his walking stick, he would not have broken the window when attacked, he would not have fled the scene when Peterson came running toward him, he would have taken the goose home, and Sherlock Holmes may not have had a mystery to solve.  Because of their thoughtful addition to the box, Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City named the students honorary members of their scion.

Dr. Marino Alvarez joins us to the trace the journey of the blue carbuncle from the Hotel Cosmopolitan to 221b Baker Street.  He also challenges to the students complete his cryptograph related to the tale.  Should Holmes have let Ryder go free at the end of the adventure?  Students write persuasive essays responding to that question.  To conclude the unit, the students compete for the top score on a modified William Dorn quiz, and top performers are awarded Sherlockian-themed prizes donated to our classroom by Francine Kitts and Alexian Gregory.

Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?

I have always been fascinated by the creation story of the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes.  Central to that story is Evelyn Herzog.  The students are in awe when I describe her Sherlockian adventures.  They enjoy learning how she purchased The Complete Sherlock Holmes with her tooth fairy money.  They are encouraged when learning that she was instrumental in the foundation of ASH and astonished to learn that women were not invited to become Baker Street Irregulars until 1991.  I would enjoy the opportunity to have a cup of tea with Evy and hear more of her tales… and I’m sure others would love to join us!

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

I am a connoisseur of biographies.  I thoroughly enjoy studying the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Teller of Tales, Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters, and The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adorn my bookshelves.

I also enjoy learning about distinguished Sherlockians.  Each year, my students choose Sherlockians to research.  They formulate interview questions based on their initial research, conduct interviews by email, and compose “Singular Sherlockian” biographies that hang in our classroom museum- The Sherlock Holmes Museum for the Young, Curious, and Observant Mind.  Currently, biographies are on display for Alexian Gregory, David Marcum, Bill Mason, Jay Ganguly, Conor Kimbro, Billy Fields, Mark Jones, Betsy Rosenblatt, Denny Dobry, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Scott Monty.

What things do you like to research related to Sherlock Holmes?

Most of my research related to Sherlock Holmes is completed with my students.  And, I let them decide what areas they would like to study.

In 2014, the 4th graders and I  transformed a section of our classroom into The Sherlock Holmes Museum for the Young, Curious, and Observant Mind.  The museum displays their research projects, and each year the newest fourth graders add more artifacts and interpretive labels.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Undershaw, Queen Victoria, hansom cabs, Scotland Yard, the Great Hiatus, Commissioner vs. Commissionaire, the Strand Magazine, and the villains are just a few of the museum displays.  At the entrance of the museum, the students posted the following disclaimer: “If you are a true Sherlockian, you believe that Sherlock Holmes is still alive, retired (for the most part), and living in South Downs Sussex. John H. Watson wrote the Canon, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was his literary agent.”

The museum was dedicated to Dr. Alvarez and Francine Kitts for their support of our Sherlockian endeavors.  During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dr. Alvarez and his wife were present. Richard and Francine Kitts attended by Skype.  The museum gets many visitors each year and is an invaluable resource for introducing new students to the great detective.

What are the most interesting aspects of using Sherlock Holmes in your classroom?

In today’s classrooms, teachers encourage their students to embrace a growth mindset- the belief that one’s intellectual ability can be further developed through effort and challenge.  The Sherlockian theme promotes this mindset.  I encourage my students to embrace the Sherlockian mindset (to think and act like Sherlock Holmes to become a better student) and employ the Sherlockian skills to support that mindset (to be observant, active participant in their learning, and critical thinker).  Sherlock’s words, “Well, Watson, we can but try,” (THOR) and the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes’s motto, “A drop carves the rock, not by force but by persistence,” hang at the front of the classroom also supporting the belief.

The Sherlockian theme also encourages us to participate in adventures with others.  Members of the Fresh Rashers, a local scion which includes Dr. Marino Alvarez, Billy Fields, Jim Hawkins, Dean Richardson, Drew Thomas, and Bill Mason, join us annually for a singular game of “The Red-Headed League” Jeopardy.  In May of 2018, Dr. Robert Katz, donated copies of The Grand Game: A Celebration of Sherlockian Scholarship Volume Two: 1960–2010 for me to gift to young Sherlockians that would truly appreciate the “writings upon the writings.” On the day the books were presented to the students, we read and discussed parts of “The Blue Enigma,” by Judge S. Tupper Bigelow, and ended our time talking to Dr. Katz by phone. In August of 2018, Dan and Ann Andriacco visited the museum while vacationing in Tenn.  Several months later, the students read and analyzed the plot elements of one of his short stories before writing narratives of their own.

The upper campus of Stepping Stones School in Hindhead, Surrey, United Kingdom, moved to Undershaw in the fall of 2016.  After my fourth grade students read articles about the restoration of Conan Doyle’s former home, they sent the administration, teachers, and students Sherlockian greetings and a shilling.  Their letter stated, “Because Stepping Stones restored Undershaw, we want to recognize you for your efforts. Thank you for helping to preserve the memory of the great detective’s creator.”  During the next school year, the newest fourth grade students corresponded with Mr. Nick Hyett’s class through Padlet, an online bulletin board. In May of 2018, while members of the Fresh Rashers were visiting our classroom, we connected with Mr. Hyett and his students using Google Meet, a video conference application.  As a part of the video conference, Mr. Hyett took us on a virtual tour of Conan Doyle’s former study.  In December of 2018, we will be reading and analyzing BLUE with Mr. Hyett’s students.

How did the idea of the Junior Sherlockian Society come about?

In May of 2016, Bill Mason, the headlight of the Beacon Society, received an email from Andy Solberg encouraging the society to form a Sherlockian society for children and youth.  Andy had fond memories of his participation in the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program.  He wondered if a similar program could be developed for young Sherlockians.  Dr. Marino Alvarez, a member of the Beacon Society’s program committee, encouraged me to submit a proposal.  He wondered if I could create an online program with learning activities similar to the ones my students experience.  In July of 2016, I submitted a proposal.  A month later, the Beacon Society’s board approved my proposal and named the Junior Sherlockian Society as an official program of its society. On August 9, 2017, the 221st day of the year, the program launched.  At, children and youth are encouraged to complete the 2-2-1-b tasks- to explore, experience, and extend their understanding and appreciation of the great detective. 

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

This past summer, my daughter and I had an incredible experience that I would encourage other Sherlockians to attempt to replicate.  Together, we read Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, by Elizabeth Varadan.  The pastiche immerses readers in Victorian London.  In the novel, ten-year-old Imogene learns that Sherlock Holmes, “the most brilliant detective in all of London,” will be called upon to find her mother’s missing pearls.  Imogene embraces the opportunity to observe how he goes about solving his cases because she aspires to be a detective herself.  By the end of the story, Imogene has been instrumental in helping Holmes and Watson solve the case.

Throughout the tale, the characters enjoy many Victorian foods and drinks.  My daughter and I choose four of the dishes and baked them using the recipes found in Julia Carlson Rosenblatt and Frederic H. Sonnenschmidt’s Dining with Sherlock Holmes: A Baker Street Cookbook.  (The activity is highlighted as a possible “extend” task during Junior Sherlockian Training)

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?

Sherlockians are sharp, energetic, and active.  Their output of literary activities is impressive.  In fact, I would assert that their output is overwhelming.  My nightstand is overflowing with books and journals that I am eager to read, and my 2019 calendar is rapidly filling up with conferences and events.  And since Sherlockians are a welcoming and encouraging group, our numbers and output of literary activities will continue to multiply over the next ten years.