I used to watch Sherlock Holmes with my mother as a young girl growing up in Denmark. We would settle in, wait for the theme music to come on and be whisked away into the strange mind of a genius detective who seemed to always figure it out. On good nights we would Hercule Poirot as well.
I started reading Sherlock Holmes as a child as well, lying terrified under the covers as I wondered whether it was the Baskerville Hound I could hear outside my window. Sherlock Holmes seems to have been a part of my life for a long time and while I have introduced the stories to my students, they can be hard to read, even for the most resilient reader. I have always felt that we needed a great series similar to Sherlock Holmes but with its own unique story and main characters. WIlliam Ritter in his Jackaby series gives us just that.
Yet, I hate to even compare it to Sherlock Holmes because I feel like Jackaby has its own place in the world, not as a substitution for another series, but as a must-add series to our libraries. With great characters, a story that keeps unfolding between books (I read Beastly Bones as an ARC and hate that I now have to wait for the next book), and a captive page turning mystery, this book is one that I will be recommending to as many students and educators as possible. In fact, I have recommended it to three different people already in the last two days.
Bottom line: A page turner, with supernatural whimsy that all around just makes for a really great read. Absolutely appropriate and enthralling for 4th grade and up but my 7th graders will love it as well and so would high school.
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local authorities–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–seem adamant to deny.