Sherlock & Watson Wired and Re-Wired
The “Text Me Mystery” series brings the classic characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson into the modern era by re-telling Arthur Conan Doyle’s mystery stories via text messaging. There are two books out so far, Sherlock & Watson Wired and Sherlock & Watson Re-Wired, rewritten by Ann Kimbrough.
Somehow, Holmes and Watson have randomly ended up in a chat thread with four modern-day teens. The kids are bored, so in Wired, Watson begins telling them “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot”. The format is unique.
The text message format communicates the story in short bits, allowing readers to play along. The kids ask about old-fashioned vocabulary (there’s a glossary in the back) and update attitudes, as when a reference to fox-hunting is met with the statement, “we don’t kill animals for fun.”
They also comment on the story. For instance, one says “I’m guessing Sherlock is done being bored… Right?” Notes pages give readers time to think about the story so far. It’s fun being part of the audience with them. New readers have more immersion in the story, while those who know the tale can experience it in a more immediate form.
The story has been made appropriate for younger readers, which means those familiar with the original stories will find some of the plot changed. Instead of Sherlock endangering himself and Watson during the investigation, for example, the kids do research, and instead of letting killers get away, even if their motive is thought to be understandable, they’re arrested. The differences can make for good discussion about how our expectations for justice and appropriate behavior change over time.
The second book in the series, Sherlock & Watson Re-Wired, adds more classic characters to the text chat: Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft and the Scotland Yard representative Inspector Lestrade. A spy story and stolen submarine plans make for more excitement for the present-day kids and readers in a retelling of “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans”.
These volumes, with another promised, take classic mystery adventure stories and update them well for a younger, modern audience. The fresh spin is entertaining.
(Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)