Basil of Baker Street (The Great Mouse Detective), by Eve Titus/Illustrated by Paul Galdone, (May 2016, Aladdin), $5.95, ISBN: 9781481464017
Recommended for ages 6-9
When I was growing up, I loved The Great Mouse Detective. He was a gateway to Sherlock Holmes, I later realized, and I’m sure other people in my age group (Generation X, can I get a holler?) agree. I am thrilled that Aladdin is bringing The Great Mouse Detective series back and introducing Basil and Dawkins to a new audience of readers!
Basil of Baker Street is a mouse detective, and Dr. David Q. Dawson is his faithful sidekick and chronicler. Living in late 19th-century London, Basil is the Sherlock Holmes of the Mouseworld and Dawson is his Watson. Together, the duo learn at the feet of the great Sherlock Holmes, as he recounts his adventures, further fueling Basil’s desire to be the greatest mouse detective ever. In Basil of Baker Street, the two have helped establish the community of Holmestead, a small mouse village located comfortably in the basement of 221B Baker Street – they live in Sherlock Holmes’s basement. One night, as Basil and Dawkins are leaving Holmes’ apartments upstairs, their mousekeeper, Mrs. Judson (yes!! Mrs. Judson!), comes to them in distress: the Proudfoot mouse twin sisters have been mousenapped! Basil and Dawkins are on the case, and every turn of the page is a delight.
I read this on my lunch hour and had a huge smile on my face the entire time. Grownups, re-read this book. Read this book to your kids, your nieces and nephews, your students, your friends’ kids – just read it and read it to kids. It’s such a great little adventure, with adorable, well-written, smart characters and a fun whodunit that ends safely for all. This is a great read for first and second graders who are ready to take the leap from beginner chapter books like Scholastic’ Branches series, and it’s a book so many parents and grandparents (the book was first published in 1958). Paul Galdone’s black and white illustrations will bring you back and keep your little one’s attention: Galdone’s illustrated fairy tales are still being published, so show your kids those books and ask them if the art looks familiar!
When you’re done enjoying the book together, pull up the movie (1986) and curl up together. It’s available on Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, iTunes, and GooglePlay. Seriously, it’s a classic: Basil Rathbone, the Sherlock Holmes I grew up with, voices Sherlock Holmes and Vincent Price voices the evil Professor Ratigan. And then enjoy this BuzzFeed article, because they’re big fans, too.