Sherlock Holmes and friends are recast as modern kids at the Baker Street Academy.
New student John Watson quickly befriends fellow students assertive Martha Hudson and enigmatic Sherlock Holmes. While the main characters are white, there are secondary characters of color. Once John settles in, he starts a blog in which he writes and illustrates his stories about life at the school. The plot starts in earnest when a museum field trip is interrupted by a flash mob and an unsuccessful robbery—but when the diamond recovered from the would-be thief is revealed to be a fake, it has both authorities and kids wondering where the real Alpine Star is. Thoughtful formatting balances prose with illustrations, comic-book panels, and snippets of newspapers or online news websites, enhancing the energy and pace. It also plants the occasional red herring and helps to obscure the villain for readers who aren’t familiar with the name Moriarty and are just learning the conventions of comic-book villains. The cartoon illustrations evoke personality effectively, most noticeably in interludes with adorable Baskerville the hound and presenting Sherlock and James Moriarty with contrasting visual codes: Sherlock is rounded, whereas Moriarty and his dark trench (to counter the light one Sherlock wears) are spiky to denote foul intent. With such engaging art, it’s a shame that the visual clues that lead Sherlock to his deductions are not present for keen-eyed readers to make their own inferences; they must wait for Sherlock’s explanations along with the rest of the cast.
A lively, inviting introduction sure to win fans. (Graphic/mystery hybrid. 7-11)