Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer
Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer was recommended to me for a reason that should become obvious shortly.
Jamila Waheed is new to the neighborhood. She wants to play basketball, but her mother is forcing her to go to summer science camp. The local basketball court is too far away for her to go by herself, her mom thinks.
Shirley Bones is incredibly observant, to the point of scaring people with what she finds out about them. She comes up with a plan. The two ten-year-olds will team up, so they’ll be allowed to walk around the neighborhood together without adult supervision.
Shirley’s a tad unusual. She’s super smart but only about things that interest her. She does experiments, and she can be moody, but she solves problems for other kids.
One day, Oliver wants Shirley’s help to find his missing lizard. Shirley refuses, because it would mean going outside their parents’ rules. Jamila decides they’re going to help anyway, because doing the right thing is more important. The lizard is only one of many things that have been going missing at the local swimming pool.
You may have already figured out where this is going. Gillian Goerz has created an excellent young Sherlock Holmes comic, although the back cover blurbs call it “for the junior detective” and a “Nancy Drew readalike”. When you see that the lifeguards are named “Lestrad” and “Toby Gregson”, though, the influence is obvious.
Even if the reader doesn’t know or care about the inspiration, there’s an exciting case with plenty of characterization and plot twists and turns. Shirley and Jamila are terrific translations of classic characters to a current setting, believable as modern girls. Goerz keeps the important bits without being too slavish to the concept.
The art sets the stage beautifully, allowing us to follow along and get to know and understand the various motivations. In particular, Jamila is more than a sidekick, standing up for herself and thinking about what it means to be a friend. The two together are great, balancing their strengths and weaknesses. I loved it!