Friday, July 29, 2016

Guy Friday- Sherlock Sam

Low, A.J. Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong (Sherlock Sam #1)
August 2nd 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher 

Samuel Tan Cher Lock (who prefers to go by "Sherlock") lives in Singapore with his engineer father and stay at home mother. He has a robot companion named Watson, an annoying sister named Wendy, and a best friend, Jimmy. When visiting his Auntie Kim Lian at her Chin Mee Chin Confectionary, Sherlock finds out that his aunt's heirloom cookbook has gone missing. Did she just misplace it, or is there a more evil plot afoot. Bolstered by kaya toast and cream cones, Sherlock and his friends set out to find the cookbook and restore it to its proper owners. A glossary of terms at the back is helpful in describing food and places mentioned in the book. 

27169938Low, A.J. Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning (Sherlock Sam #2)
August 2nd 2016 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher 

Sherlock manages to install a recording device in Watson, his robot companion and meets a new boy, Nazhar. After Sherlock's school takes a historical field trip to The Battle Box, Sherlock and his friends become intrigued by the WWII activities at Fort Canning, and begin to suspect that the place may be haunted. Odd sounds coming from secret entrances lead them to believe this, and they investigate to try to figure out whether ghosts really do exist. There is also a mystery involving the disappearance of a classmate's historical monetary note from the Japanese Occupation which the group also solves. 

Strengths: Both of these books had a lot of interesting cultural references about school and home life in Singapore, and LOTS of descriptions of food. They are marketed towards ages 8-12, but the simplicity of the text makes these suitable for even younger readers. There are a few illustrations, which add some humor to the stories. The mysteries have an Encyclopedia Brown vibe to them. 
Weaknesses: US readers may be surprised at how much food is discussed, and confused as to how Sherlock's sister can get away with calling him chubby and accusing him of eating too much. Food and weight have become the new taboo topics in US kidlit. I would have liked a little more explanation of why some characters had more American sounding names like Wendy and Jimmy, but some did not. 
What I really think: I would buy this for an elementary library if I could get the paperbacks in a prebind version. I'd love to see books that were previously published in other countries for older readers be available in the US. 


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