The Great Shelby Holmes

The Great Shelby Holmes
by Elizabeth Eulberg

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Elizabeth Eulberg bio:

Elizabeth Eulberg FAQ:

Q & A with Elizabeth Eulberg:

Illustrator Information:

Erwin Madrid blog, scroll to 9/11/2016 entry:

Activities & Resources:


Sherlock Holmes fun facts:

How to pack a suitcase:’s-Suitcase

Create your own journal:

How to train a dog:

How to groom a dog:

Ten best dog breeds for kids:

Dog safety activity booklet:

Diabetes and kids:

Basketball basic rules:

Basketball drills (11:42):

Detective skills and activities:

Break the code:

How to keep track of suspects:

Sleepwalking in kids overview:

New York City subway construction then and now:

How to read a map:

Interactive map of Central Park in New York City:

How to play a violin:

Make a pizza:

Bake brownies:

MakerSpace Activities:

How to make an Ivory soap explosion:

Make an exploding lunch bag:

How to make invisible ink:

Make secret codes:

How to build a periscope:

Responsible dog ownership coloring sheets:

Discussion Questions:

This story is told in first person narrative. Do you like this perspective or do you prefer third person, where you know all the characters’ thoughts? Explain.

Do you know someone who is in a military family? Have they talked about what it’s like to move often? Do they make friends easily?

If you have never lived downtown in a city, do you think you would want to? Why or why not? What do you think you would like best? What do you think you would like least?

Have you had to move to a new town? How did that go? Explain.

Do you journal? Have you ever kept a journal? If so, what do you write about? If you have stopped journaling, why did you stop? Do you think you will resume?

When Shelby announced to the Watson family that she was Shelby Holmes – Detective Shelby Holmes, did the name sound familiar to you? Have you read any of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries or watched the movies? If so, did you like them. Why or why not?  If not, are you curious to read one now? Why or why not?

When Watson first accompanied Shelby on her rounds of the neighborhood, Watson thought she was nosy. Was this your reaction? If not, why did you think Shelby made her rounds?

Shelby told Watson that she was not used to people her age wanting to get to know her, but rather that they wanted to stay away when they found out what she could do. How did you feel when Shelby said this? What can you infer about her friends? Would you want to be her friend?

Shelby said that adults always underestimate kids, especially girls. What do you think about this statement? Do you agree or disagree?

What would you say if someone decided to call you by your last name? Would it bother you or would you just go along with the change? Explain.

What do you think of John Watson’s foolproof way to make friends – ask questions and let the person talk until you find common ground? How do you make new friends?

Do you know someone with diabetes? If so, how is their daily life different from yours?

Watson was thinking that New York city was the kind of place where trouble could find you, but as he thought about Shelby Holmes, he wondered if trouble had already met him. What do you think he meant? Do you agree? Why or why not?

Shelby said that she wasn’t used to people asking her things without wanting something? Have you ever felt this way? Explain.

Shelby used deductive reasoning to solve a mystery. What strategy do you use to figure out something?

When you go outside does your family have guidelines for you, for example, like Watson’s Mom – go no more than 10 blocks alone? If so, is this a good idea or a bother? Explain.

Do you think Watson was right when he thought that Shelby had so much trouble pretending to be a fake friend because she didn’t have a lot of experience with real friends her age? Why or why not?

Watson asked Shelby if people aren’t innocent until proven guilty, but Shelby said for her, people are guilty until proven innocent. Which one do you agree with and why?

Shelby told Watson that there is a difference between seeing and observing. What do you think?

Watson wanted to do something for Shelby because she had helped him use the subway to get to his doctor appointment. Shelby told him to not pretend to be her friend because when he met someone from their school, he would act like he didn’t know her. Do you agree with Shelby? Explain. Shelby also told Watson that she didn’t need help or friends. Why do you think she said this? Do you agree?

What did you think when Watson was thinking that Shelby did need his help – she needed a real friend? Have you known someone like Shelby?

Watson is having a hard time dealing with his parents’ divorce. His Dad not returning calls is making it worse. Do you have any advice for Watson?

If Shelby did that “Shelby thing”, when she sizes someone up and then tells them things about themselves, to you, what would she say about you?

Shelby used the term “brain attic”. What would you like to fill your brain attic with? Explain.

After seeing Tamra and her brother and sister argue and blame each other, Watson wondered if being an only child was better. What do you think? Explain.

Shelby said that she was only interested in the facts of the case and that having friends complicated things. Do you agree? Why or why not? Why then did Shelby give Watson water, the orange and cheese?

Watson thought that moving to New York City would make everything easier, when in fact, it had made everything harder. What did he mean?

Watson’s Dad always told him to trust his gut. Do you do this? Why or why not?

Before every move, Watson studied the sports teams and called this his homework. If you were moving do you think you might do this? Why or why not?

Shelby told Watson that he might want to rethink the people he was choosing as friends.What do you suppose Watson’s thought response of “Tell me about it” meant?

Watson’s Mom told him to be careful hanging around Shelby, that although she was smart, she might not be a good influence for him. In response, Watson thought that he really couldn’t argue with her about that. Explain why Watson thought this.

When Watson told Shelby that friends help friends, he then wondered what being friends with Shelby would be like. What do you think it will be like?

Did you realize who the dognapper was before Shelby revealed it? Explain.

Book Talk Teasers:

Read the Readers Theater.

Display an empty dog cage, a magnifying glass, dog missing posters, a moving box, and a basketball. Explain to your audience that these objects are important elements in this mystery’s plot and to notice how some of the characters react differently to them.

Read Alikes:


Barrett, Tracy. The hundred-year-old secret. Xena and Xander Holmes, an American brother and sister living in London for a year, discover that Sherlock Holmes was their great-great-great grandfather when they are inducted into the Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives and given his unsolved casebook, from which they attempt to solve the case of a famous missing painting. (NoveList Plus)

Dowd, Siobhan.The London Eye mystery. When Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim disappears from the London Eye ferris wheel, the two siblings must work together–Ted with his brain that is “wired differently” and impatient Kat–to try to solve the mystery of what happened to Salim. (NoveList Plus)

Gibbs, Stuart. Big game.“Someone is trying to hunt FunJungle’s Asian greater one-horned rhinoceros, and twelve-year-old Teddy Fitzroy is on the case”–. (NoveList Plus)

Grisham, John.The scandal. Future lawyer Theodore Boone finds himself in the middle of a cheating scandal when an anonymous tip leads the Strattenberg school board to investigate suspicious standardized testing scores at another local middle school. (NoveList Plus)

Markell, Denis. Click here to start. Young fans of Ernie Cline’s Ready Player One will love this classic video game inspired mystery filled with elements of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. (NoveList Plus)

McCall Smith, Alexander. Max and Maddy and the chocolate money mystery. Asked by a Swiss banker to investigate a series of bank robberies committed by dogs, young detectives Max and Maddy Twist travel to Switzerland, where they discover that the man behind the robberies is none other than Professor Sardine. (NoveList Plus)

Messner, Kate.Capture the flag. When the original Star Spangled Banner is stolen, seventh-graders Anne, Jose, and Henry, all descendants of the Silver Jaguar Society, pursue suspects on airport carts and through baggage handling tunnels while stranded at a Washington, D.C., airport during a snowstorm. (NoveList Plus)

Pflugfelder, Bob. Nick and Tesla’s robot army rampage: a mystery with hoverbots, bristlebots, and other robots you can build yourself. After a series of robberies strike Half Moon Bay, sibling sleuths Nick and Tesla build robots out of household objects in order to catch the culprits. (NoveList Plus)

Turnage, Sheila. Three times lucky. Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a cafe and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder. (NoveList Plus)

Mysteries; Culturally diverse

Brezenoff, Steven. The case of the soldier’s ghost. As Independence Day approaches, Raining Sam and his friend Amal see what they think is the ghost of a soldier lurking around an exhibit on the Vietnam War, after hours at the Capitol City Museum of American History–and he and his friends from the other museums are determined to find out what (or who) is behind the haunting, and why they are doing it. (NoveList Plus)

Broach, Elise. The wolf keepers.Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango lives in a zoo, spending her days taking note of the animals’ behaviors, then she meets runaway Tyler Briggs and together they investigate the wolves who are suddenly dying. (NoveList Plus)

Ponti, James. Framed! In Washington, D.C., twelve-year-old Florian Bates, a consulting detective for the FBI, and his best friend Margaret help thwart the biggest art heist in United States history. (NoveList Plus)

Wells, Marcia. Doom at Grant’s tomb. “Elusive art thief Lars Heinrich returns to New York City looking to settle a score. Super sleuth seventh-grader Edmund Xavier Lonrrot will need not only his photographic mind and artistic talents, but any skill he possesses with cracking codes as a string of the city’s historical monuments become potential clues in what could become one of the greatest heists in history”–. (NoveList Plus)

Historical mysteries

Lalicki, Tom. Shots at sea: a Houdini & Nate mystery. While traveling to England with his mother and great-aunt on the ocean liner Lusitania in 1911, thirteen-year-old Nate, delighted to find that the Houdinis are also on board, finds himself involved in another dangerous adventure as he and Houdini try to find the man responsible for attempting to assassinate another passenger–President Theodore Roosevelt. (NoveList Plus)

Stevens, Robin. Murder is bad manners. At an English boarding school in the 1930s, crime-solving friends Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells struggle to find an exciting mystery to investigate until Hazel discovers the dead body of Miss Bell, the science teacher. (NoveList Plus)

Historical mysteries; Humorous stories; Mysteries

Pullman, Philip. Two crafty criminals!: and how they were captured by the daring detectives of the New Cut Gang. Eleven-year-old Benny Kaminsky leads a rag-tag gang of neighborhood children as they use improbable disguises and crazy ruses while investigating such crimes as counterfeiting and stolen silver in 1894 London. (NoveList Plus)

First person narratives; Mysteries; Realistic fiction

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Sammy Keyes and the art of deception. Seventh-grade sleuth Sammy Keyes investigates mysterious happenings at a local art gallery. (NoveList Plus)

Mysteries; Realistic fiction

Colfer, Eoin. Half-Moon investigations. When Fletcher Moon, the youngest detective in the world, is framed for a crime he did not commit, he must team up with the unlikeliest of allies, run from the authorities, and solve the case within twelve hours to clear his name. (NoveList Plus)

African American fiction; Mysteries

Draper, Sharon M. (Sharon Mills). The buried bones mystery. When the Black Dinosaurs, a club made up of four African American friends, discover what’s hidden in an old trunk buried near their clubhouse, they set out to solve the mystery. (NoveList Plus)

African American fiction; Multiple perspectives; Realistic fiction

Johnson, Varian. To catch a cheat. Because of his reputation for practical jokes Jackson Greene is the automatic suspect for anything that goes wrong at school–but when he and his friends are framed for a crime they did not commit, Gang Greene sets out to expose the students responsible, who are trying to blackmail Jackson into helping them cheat on an important test. (NoveList Plus)

Australian fiction; Mysteries

McSkimming, Geoffrey. Phyllis Wong and the waking of the wizard. Phyllis Wong, a resourceful young magician and amateur sleuth, is on the trail of history’s most famous magician – only he can help her stop the crime of the century. Phyllis Wong’s great-grandfather is on a quest. He wants to track down one of history’s greatest magicians … but does he even exist? To find the answer, Phyllis and Wallace Wong will have to Transit across thousands of miles and hundreds of years. While the conjuring duo follow the trail of the master prestidigitator, a sinister figure haunts their every step. What is The Great Whimpering, and who is the dastardly man intent on bringing it about? Can they complete their mission in time to prevent the greatest calamity ever to befall mankind? (NoveList Plus)

Book Reviews:

School Library Journal

EULBERG, Elizabeth. The Great Shelby Holmes. 240p. Bloomsbury.  Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681190518. POP

Gr 3-6 –Shelby Holmes is a plucky sixth-grade detective known for solving problems in her Harlem neighborhood. John Watson is a self-proclaimed army brat dealing with his parents’ divorce and a move to what he hopes will be his forever home. When Watson moves into Shelby’s building, Shelby discovers that friendship might be the greatest mystery of all. This middle grade retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes/Watson relationship will delight readers as they attempt to solve the mystery of a missing dog. Told from Watson’s perspective, this title introduces readers to Shelby’s curt behavior in a manner that allows them to empathize with the girl as she learns how to be a friend. Ample time is also given to Watson’s journey from detective’s assistant to a full-fledged partner. Secondary plots about Watson coping with his parents’ divorce and the difficulties of making new friends when he frequently moves will appeal to a large group of readers. The overall message of accepting others is made without seeming overly preachy. Readers will look forward to the conclusion of the mystery and will anxiously anticipate additional books in the series. VERDICT Eulberg’s middle grade debut is a first purchase for mystery lovers.–Ashley Leffel, Griffin Middle School, Frisco, TX.  Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal,  Copyright 2016.

Booklist (July 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 21))

The Great Shelby Holmes.  Eulberg, Elizabeth (author). Illustrated by Erwin Madrid. Sept. 2016. 240p. Bloomsbury, hardcover, $16.99 (9781681190518). Grades 4-6. REVIEW. First published July, 2016 (Booklist).

As an army brat, John Watson is used to making new friends. But when he and his mother move to New York City, he meets the strangest kid he’s ever known: Shelby Holmes, detective. In what John calls a “Jedi mind trick,” she deduces within minutes that his mother is an army doctor, was wounded in Afghanistan, and is recently divorced. When Shelby is summoned to find a missing dog, John tags along and finds himself baffled by the case. In the end, Shelby finds the culprit and accepts Watson, as she calls John, as her partner. Similarities to Sherlock Holmes abound, though whether that resonates with readers will depend on their familiarity with related books, movies, or TV shows. Like Arthur Conan Doyle’s Watson, John serves as a sympathetic narrator who is unreliable in that his critical thinking is trumped by his emotions. The multicultural casting is made clear in the grayscale illustrations. Mystery fans may try to solve the case, but most, like John, will enjoy just hanging out with Shelby to see what happens next. — Carolyn Phelan (Used with the permission of Booklist)