Book Review: Sherlock Holmes 大侦探福尔摩斯

This is a review of a fun book set of Sherlock Holmes 大侦探福尔摩斯. The series was introduced to me by an amazing bilingual Montessori homeschooling mum of three in Malaysia.  She has wonderful resources, so when she said she had an extra copy of one book that she could mail me, I already knew it was going to be a gem.  She was right.

Key Info

  • Series name: 大侦探福尔摩斯. Sherlock Holmes
  • Author:  厉河 Li he
  • Number of books in set:  63 (so far)
  • Number of lines per page:  14 (with picture on opposite page)
  • Number of pages per book:  124
  • Total length of each book:   ~ 20,000 characters
  • Characters required by child to read it independently:  ~2000
  • Pinyin: No
  • Bilingual: No
  • Available in Singapore NLB: Yes
  • Original language of publication:  Simplified Chinese
  • Audio available:  No
  • Suggested ages:  10+
  • First publication date: 2013

Synopsis of Sherlock Holmes 大侦探福尔摩斯

The name is not that creative. The books are. 大侦探福尔摩斯 adapted by 厉河 is a series of Sherlock Holmes detective books written from the perspective of animals …… it’s pretty much a parallel of Geronimo Stilton in terms of writing style, presentation, and the length of the series. It’s a whole lot less cheesy though.  Imagine Holmes is a detective dog, Watson is a cat, and the Scotland Yard police detectives are a fox and gorilla.  The books are playfully written with specific words standing out in bright fonts and colours.  The books are specifically written for primary (elementary) school-age children by the famous Hong Kong screenwriter Li He.

When this series first came out in Hong Kong (A decade ago), it entered the bestseller lists and became a regular feature in the libraries of primary schools.   Of the set, the first 17 take their stories based on Sherlock Holmes, and the remainder are truly original stories.

What a child will enjoy

  • Fun series for children who like simple adventures and mysteries, with a touch of science
  • Stories have intriguing twists and turns, and move at a good pace
  • Bright illustrations in full-colour
  • Clever concepts – the plot line includes thinking about small scientific experiences and loopholes, which beautifully merge real life knowledge and facts into the stories.

What a parent will enjoy

  • If a child doesn’t like books with a lot of text, this might be the hook for them.  
  • There’s no pinyin (good to pair read it with an optical reading pen)
  • Text is laid out nicely and well spaced (not microscopic in size)
  • There’s a matching film animation in Mandarin if you really need to coax/reward your child.

Insides of the books

Doesn’t this just remind you of Geronimo Stilton x Zoroli?

Insides of Sherlock Holmes 大侦探福尔摩斯

Where to buy Sherlock Holmes 大侦探福尔摩斯

In Singapore, they’re available at Maha Yuyi bookstore.   They’re also available to borrow from the excellent Singapore NLB.

Globally, they’re available on Taobao.  There are also dozens of second hand copies available, mainly in Hong Kong.  We have the original series, but as is the trend these days, there are also books drawn entirely in manga, if you’re up for some extra cuteness.

Image from Carouselll…. you’ll find plenty like we did!

Other similar books

If your child enjoys mystery books like Butt Detective, Zoroli or the Mandarin Companion’s Sherlock Holmes, then I think they’ll really enjoy this Sherlock Holmes series too.

What makes these stories similar to the Mandarin Companion concept is that they tell classic stories (in this case detective stories) in a length and language that primary school-level students will enjoy. Mandarin Companion is simpler

What makes it similar to Butt Detective is the problem-solving element, except according to my daughter, the plots of Sherlock Holmes are more interesting and use real science.

As for Zoroli series,  the person who translated these books from Japanese is actually the author of the Sherlock Holmes books.   The style, language, and very scientific plot have a myriad of similarities.  In fact, the story goes that in 2009 when author Li He was translating Japanese children’s books into Chinese, he discovered the stories were so interesting and wanted to write his own, and he began with Sherlock Holmes.

A big thank you to Carol Wong from Owlissimo who first shared this great book with us. If any readers have other suggestions similar to Sherlock Holmes I would gladly listen! As you likely know, it gets gradually harder to find books that my tween is keen on reading in a second language, and we’re always looking for new suggestions.

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