The Great Shelby Holmes
by Elizabeth Eulberg
Related Activities & Resources:
Elizabeth Eulberg bio:
Elizabeth Eulberg FAQ:
Q & A with Elizabeth Eulberg:
Erwin Madrid blog, scroll to 9/11/2016 entry:
Activities & Resources:
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Basketball drills (11:42):
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Responsible dog ownership coloring sheets:
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.
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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)