“Sherlock Ferret and The Missing Necklace” by Hugh Ashton, of the Deed Box fame is marvellously illustrated by Andy Boerger, and a real treat for Sherlock fans of all ages, not just the children it’s intended for.
It’s a lovely cautionary tale of things that can go amiss if you encounter Moriarty, with thankfully Sherlock and Watson being about to save the day and help out a young lady in distress.
But contrary to the tales of Mr Holmes we are used to, these aren’t human beings that star this particular tale but animals. Sherlock Holmes is a ferret, John Watson a mouse (and yes, I know that ferrets tend to eat mice, but these two are great friends nonetheless), Lestrade a rhinoceros (even though he’s not a very big one), Moriarty a magpie (very apt I thought!) and so on. It was very cute and amusing to see which animal the writer linked to both existing and new characters in the Sherlockian universe.
I also adored how Mr Boerger’s illustrations are old school ink drawings like the ones you would find in books from back in the day, rather than the modern ones we have grown accustomed to in children’s books. They really give that extra to the story to bring it really alive in the reader’s mind’s eye.
The other awesome thing about this story is that it’s not just that, it’s also full of little educational hints, so children reading it actually learn new words and pick up some valuable advice without the author ever talking down to them, it’s a fun way of learning new things whilst reading a splendid story.
If you have children and you’re still looking for a great illustrated tale to get them, don’t even doubt and go for this one. It’s exciting edutainment, without ever being too dry or scary so they’re bound to keep hanging on from the first letter to the last and pick up some new vocabulary in the process.
And if you’re an adult that loves beautifully drawn animals and/or tales about Sherlock Holmes, this will probably please you just as much.
A definite recommendation for detective fans of all ages, and absolutely proof of how versatile a writer Hugh Ashton really is!