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Problem — SOLVED!

By G.S. Williams, author of No Man An Island

Oct 27, 2012: So, here I am again, reviewing "Sheryl Holmes." I’m going to set aside the more adult-themed "221B Baker Street" version that originally existed for a second, and talk about the new "After-School Detectives" version that E.H. Lau decided to try out after my original review of the original story.

I weirdly love it!

Sheryl is this overly enthusiastic girl who is totally oblivious to common sense, social etiquette and the responsibilities of real life. For her, the world is full of possibilities—mysteries or aliens could be around any corner. She has grown up reading Sherlock Holmes and their similarity in names inspires her to start an after-school detective club with her friend James, who she nicknames "Watson" despite his protests.

It’s extremely funny that, before he really agrees to be in her "club," Sheryl walks to the front of her classroom and announces to EVERYONE that they are open for business and James should be called "Watson" from now on. Everyone basically ignores her, including the teacher, making me think Sheryl has enthusiastic plans all the time, and no one really pays attention any more.

Of course, when a classmates backpack goes missing, suddenly Sheryl’s ignored club becomes useful to someone. She immediately leaps to the conclusion that it’s been stolen (because that would be a better mystery) and reasonable James suggests that maybe they should just retrace the other student’s steps, and then ask at the lost and found. He gives Sheryl’s enthusiasm a direction, kind of like her compass, but it’s her energy that propels them. It’s a great character balance and should make for an interesting dynamic over time.

Sheryl is so quirky, oblivious and driven that I find her endearing, and I like how James is the voice of reason that actually tends to solve problems (while Sheryl gets thanked first, which is just hilarious). It’s kind of an "Inspector Gadget and Penny" relationship, only way cuter in two kids, and lots funnier from where I sit because "Gadget" was kid-humour, pratfalls and clumsiness, whereas this is looking back on the crazy ideas of kids and remembering what it was like to exist in a world driven by imagination.

Sheryl’s boundless optimism is succinctly summarized in a haiku in the story that she writes for class:

Mysteries abound, The world is full of puzzles. I will solve them all!

Now, back to "221B Baker Street"—I actually like the old version of the story BETTER now than before because I kind of imagine Sheryl growing up to be basically the same person, doing things the same way. It would probably require editing to correlate the two stories a bit, and to change the Watson of the first story into the nicknamed Watson of the younger version, but in the end it would be worth it, I think, as a continuation of characterization and relationships.

(Then the only thing I would work on is police procedure, because in the original story there were several times that Sheryl actually broke the law while working on a case, and that seemed unlikely in the presence of a police officer. And the graphic murder scene, that doesn’t suit the comedy.)

This is some fun, light-hearted writing that is very enjoyable and worth checking out.

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Dreaming of Paris

By Cora, member

Aug 10, 2012: “My Stupid Journal” is the diary of Daisy Tannenbaum, a precocious eleven-year-old who, while living with her aunt and guardian in Paris, gets tangled up in an old mystery surrounding Marie Antoinette’s long lost royal diamonds. As may be clear, the plot of this twisting and turning narrative is quite intricate. Although each episode is amusing on its own (mostly because of the sly wit and sarcasm of the main character Daisy), as a long-time reader of this blog I find that it is best consumed consistently and in order.

The most fun part of "My Stupid Journal" is that it is delivered through the eyes of a pre-teen with an overactive imagination. As a result, you get lines like this one in which Daisy describes her angry aunt by writing, “She gave me a look that would broil cheese.” Yet you also get beautiful ruminations from a sort of naïve American stuck in Paris, like this description of a rainy Parisian sidewalk: “Tempers were flaring. If you nicked someone’s umbrella by accident they were liable to screech at you. We passed a man, soaked to the bone, beating a reluctant umbrella against a signpost. Those without umbrellas huddled under the awnings of cafés or in archways, save for the young and impatient, who dashed on, hair matted, glasses fogged, sliding and dodging, knocking the unwary off slim sidewalks, leaving a trail of indignation in their wake.” As these excerpts demonstrate, and Fiona Gregory writes in her own review of the blog, the control and manipulation of language in “My Stupid Journal” is at once amusing and wonderfully poetic.

My final note is that almost as a bonus, this blog is incredibly fun for anyone who has visited, lived in, or just dreamed of Paris! Thrown in are beautiful descriptions of Parisian life—the corner cafés and the metro routes Daisy takes as she traipses about—as well as snippets of the French language that add flair and authenticity.

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Editor’s First Impression

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Mar 24, 2012: The run-on sentences in the blurb put me off this one at first. But don’t be. It’s a lot of fun! A smart-mouth eleven year old’s slightly larger than life (mis)adventures in Paris. As it turns out, the use of language in this story is rather wonderful, making it one of the more memorable items I’ve read recently. Not stupid at all!

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