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Ruth King "BookishRuth.com" (Spring City, PA USA)
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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Classic Starts)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Classic Starts)
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £4.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 31 May 2009
Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes features abridged versions of six short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The language is simplified for younger readers, but the essence of the original stories is not compromised. The book includes "A Scandal in Bohemia", "The Red-Headed League", "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle", "The Greek Interpreter" and "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons".

There are several nice black and white illustrations to complement each story. My only criticism of the illustrations is that Watson seems too old. Dr. Watson was only a few years Sherlock Holmes' senior, but is depicted as much older in several screen adaptations. The illustrations in this book seem to be based more on the screen versions of the characters than the original Sidney Padget drawings. Padget's illustrations show the two men to be much closer in age. However, this is a very minor quibble on my part. The age difference will likely help young children differentiate between Holmes and Watson.

The modern, easy-to-read language and abridged format in this book make these classic stories accessible to younger readers who may find the complex vocabulary or length of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original work too challenging. This would be a great choice for a 7-10 year old who enjoys mysteries but might not be ready to tackle the Sherlock Holmes books on their own just yet. Classic Starts: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes also includes discussion questions to help broaden the reader's understanding of the stories.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2013 3:42 PM BST


The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes
The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes
by Bruce Wexler
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes, 14 May 2009
Lavishly illustrated, The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes is a companion guide to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Great Detective.

The book includes a biography of Conan Doyle, a history of Sherlock Holmes in print as well as on stage and screen, and an examination of the Holmes phenomenon today. Wexler also briefly touches on Sherlock Holmes' role in the evolution of crime fiction, the class structure of Victorian society, Victorian medicine and Holmes' use of forensic investigative techniques.

Over 150 illustrations are beautifully presented throughout the book. Many of Sidney Padget's iconic images are reproduced as full or half-page illustrations. There are many photographs of Victorian London and weapons that were common to the era. The section picturing some of Holmes' key possessions (such as his deerstalker hat, magnifying glass, pipe, Persian slipper, and violin) was especially interesting to me. When I first read through the Sherlock Holmes stories as a teenager, I had no idea what a Persian slipper looked like. I would have had no such trouble envisioning Holmes' quirky method of tobacco storage if this book had been available then.

While the illustrations shine, the text -- unfortunately -- does not. I am by no means a Sherlock Holmes scholar, I picked up on several factual and typographical errors throughout the book. Mary Morstan, a prominent character in The Sign of Four, is referred to as "Mary Morstam", several quotations from Doyle's work are incorrect, and more than once, the word "to" is used where "too" is actually the correct form. Better editing would have served this volume well. Wexler also asserts that Doyle's non-Holmes works have "withered away from disregard." While it is certainly true that the Sherlock Holmes stories are Doyle's most popular work and will likely remain so, I would not be so hasty to dismiss the rest of his body of work.

Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this book based on the quality and variety of the illustrations alone. If you can look past some rather unfortunate errors, there is a lot to enjoy here.


The Lighthouse Mystery (The boxcar children)
The Lighthouse Mystery (The boxcar children)
by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Boxcar Children: The Lighthouse Mystery, 24 April 2009
In the eighth book of "The Boxcar Children" series, the Alden children and their grandfather are renting a lighthouse for the summer. They anticipate a quiet summer by the sea, but find themselves investigating a mystery instead. Their dog wakes up growling each evening, and an unknown woman is seen wandering the grounds.

When the children befriend a troubled but gifted young man, Larry Cook, they discover that he is using the abandoned lighthouse keeper's cottage for scientific experiments. The boy's father has forbidden him from attending college, so Larry continues his studies in secret. When Larry becomes lost during a summer storm, will his father have a change of heart?

I read this book as a child and greatly enjoyed revisiting it as an adult. The Lighthouse Mystery perfectly combines intrigue, adventure and a strong moral message. Highly recommended for young readers.


Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue
Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue
by Angeli Perrow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue, 24 April 2009
Pauline Hamor's springer spaniel, Spot, loves life as a lighthouse dog. Whenever ships pass by the Owl's Head Lighthouse, Spot eagerly rings the fog bell in greeting. Stuart Ames, captain of the local mail boat, is especially fond of the spaniel. He passes Owl's Head Light twice a day and always blows his whistle in response to Spot.

When the mail boat becomes lost during a winter storm, Keeper Hamor is distressed to find the fog bell frozen solid. There is no way to signal Captain Ames - until Spot begins to bark. Captain Ames hears the barking and is able to return home safely thanks to the brave dog.

Based on true events that took place in Maine's Penobscot Bay during the 1930's, this beautifully illustrated picture book is a fitting tribute to a courageous lighthouse dog.


The Haunted Lighthouse (Berenstain Bears First Time Chapter Books)
The Haunted Lighthouse (Berenstain Bears First Time Chapter Books)
by Stan Berenstain
Edition: Library Binding

5.0 out of 5 stars The Berenstain Bears: The Haunted Lighthouse, 24 April 2009
The Berenstain Bears are looking forward to an exciting summer vacation by the beach on Gull Island. There's just one problem: Papa neglected to rent a beach house in advance and all of the beach houses are taken! The family ends up in the only house available, an abandoned lighthouse on a nearby island.

When the family stops at a store for supplies, the store keeper gives them a book about the area. The book recounts a legend about pirates who sailed the nearby waters and are now rumored to haunt the lighthouse. Sister is scared when she hears this, but Mama and Papa reassure her that there's nothing to worry about.

However, once they get to the lighthouse, strange things start to happen. Despite being abandoned for years, the lighthouse is spotless on the inside. A clam shell comes clattering down the stairs of the lighthouse tower while the family is eating dinner. A fish shows up in their fishing basket despite the fact that Papa didn't catch anything. Could the lighthouse really be haunted or is there a less sinister explanation? The answer will teach the cubs a lesson in loyalty, bravery and friendship.

Short, easy sentences and large print make this an excellent choice for a child who has mastered easy reader books but might find a traditional chapter book too challenging.


The Mystery of the Haunted Lighthouse: Book 7 (Three Cousins Detective Club)
The Mystery of the Haunted Lighthouse: Book 7 (Three Cousins Detective Club)
by Elspeth Campbell Murphy
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Three Cousins Detectives Club: The Mystery of the Haunted Lighthouse, 24 April 2009
Ten-year-old cousins Sarah-Jane Cooper, Timothy Dawson and Titus McKay call themselves the Three Cousins Detective Club. When a friend of Mr. Cooper's decides he wants to purchase and restore a decommissioned lighthouse, the cousins are excited to see it. Sarah-Jane has a very active imagination and is a little worried that the lighthouse might be scary. What if it's haunted?

When they arrive and find that the lighthouse has been vandalized, the Three Cousins Detectives Club start searching for clues. Sarah-Jane is relieved that the lighthouse doesn't seem too scary until she sees a haunting image in the lighthouse tower. The "ghost" turns out to be a teenage boy who was close friends with the last lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse is a very special place for him; he often comes there to remember his friend, the now-deceased lighthouse keeper. He's been trying to scare off potential buyers so he can continue to visit the lighthouse.

This book is part of an excellent Christian fiction series for children. Each book has a theme based on Biblical principles. The Mystery of the Haunted Lighthouse's theme is faithfulness. Spooky but not scary, this is an entertaining read.


Abbie Against the Storm: A True Story of a Young Heroine and a Lighthouse
Abbie Against the Storm: A True Story of a Young Heroine and a Lighthouse
by Marcia Vaughan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Abbie Against the Storm, 24 April 2009
Based on the true story of lighthouse heroine Abbie Burgess, Abbie Against the Storm is an inspiring story of courage complimented by beautiful artwork.

When her family moves to Matinicus Rock Lighthouse in Maine, Abbie quickly becomes an invaluable assistant to her lighthouse keeper father. Abbie understands that keeping the beacon burning is a matter of life and death to sailors like her brother Ben.

When the supply ship does not arrive as scheduled, Abbie's father must head to the mainland for much-needed supplies and food for his family. He leaves Abbie in charge of the lights, knowing that she will be able to keep them burning in his absence.

As a violent storm threatens the area, Abbie's quick thinking and determination enable her to avert disaster. The young woman saves the family's hens just before the hen house is washed away. When the dangerous waves also claim the oil shed and fog bell, Abbie fears that the family's home will be destroyed next. After moving her family to the safety of the sturdy north tower, Abbie stays up all night to keep the lighthouse's beams shining through the storm.

The family's supply of food dwindles, and Abbie worries that her father may not return before the family starves. Despite the intense cold, hunger pangs, and an uncertain future, Abbie tirelessly tends the light until her father returns.

Farnsworth's vivid illustrations bring the daily duties of a 19th century lighthouse keeper to life. There is an especially striking illustration of Abbie polishing the lantern reflectors in the lighthouse tower.

Abbie Against the Storm is an excellent book for lighthouse enthusiasts of all ages.


Bella Baxter and the Lighthouse Mystery
Bella Baxter and the Lighthouse Mystery
by Jane B. Mason
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Bella Baxter and the Lighthouse Mystery, 24 April 2009
Eight-year-old Bella Baxter is delighted when her favorite filmmaker, Mason Hawk, comes to stay at her parents' New England bed and breakfast, the Sea Inn. Hawk is there to research his new documentary about East Coast lighthouses. When Bella learns that Hawk is interested in the Sandy Point Lighthouse, she decides to become a lighthouse expert.

With the help of her librarian friend, Trudy, Bella discovers that the lighthouse is said to be haunted by Salty Dobin, the light's last keeper. It looks as though someone has been in the lighthouse recently. Has Salty Dobin returned to haunt his beloved light? Salty's journal will provide the clues they need to unravel the mystery surrounding the Sandy Point Lighthouse.

I liked the fact that when Bella wanted to learn more about lighthouses, her first thought was to head to the library rather than turn to an Internet search engine. Bella's thirst for knowledge and adventurous spirit make her a very likable character who will surely appeal to young readers.


Captain's Castaway
Captain's Castaway
by Angeli Perrow
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Captain's Castaway, 24 April 2009
This review is from: Captain's Castaway (Hardcover)
Life as a sea captain's dog means protecting your owner's ship, but there is little that a dog can do against a dangerous winter storm.

When the ship hits the rocks near Maine's Great Duck Island Lighthouse, the sailors must abandon ship. As the captain's dog tries to climb into the safety of the lifeboat, one of the men panics. Fearing that the dog's weight will cause the lifeboat to capsize, the man strikes the dog with an oar. The sailors are helped to safety by the lighthouse keeper, but the dog is presumed to have drowned.

Life as a lighthouse keeper's daughter can be lonely. Young Sarah wishes for a friend. While exploring the island the day after the sailors were rescued, Sarah finds the dog washed up on the shore. Her father helps her bring the dog to the house, and Sarah nurses him back to health. She names the dog Seaboy and the two become constant companions.

When the sea captain returns to the lighthouse months later to say thank you, will he take Sarah's best friend away from her?

This pleasant picture book is based on true events. The addition of rhyming verses to the main narrative seems awkward, but this is only a small detraction from an otherwise excellent book.


The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
by Arielle North Olson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter, 24 April 2009
While her father is away, 10-year-old Miranda must take up his role as lighthouse keeper. The young girl will have to overcome inclement weather conditions, hunger and illness to keep the light burning brightly until her father returns. She bravely rescues the family's chickens before the chicken coop is washed away. As days stretch into weeks, supplies run so low that the only food Miranda and her mother have are the eggs provided by the hens each day and a small amount of cornmeal mush. Despite their dire situation, Miranda never complains. She simply does what needs to be done to keep the light in operation.

Her father finally returns with much-needed food and a special surprise for Miranda: soil for a garden. The waves scour the rocky island of its soil each winter, making it difficult to maintain a garden, something Miranda had hoped to do. By spring, the story of Miranda's courage is well-known to passing sailors and they bring her soil on an almost daily basis. Miranda packs the soil between the rocks and soon the island is teeming with colorful flowers.

Lovely watercolor illustrations compliment the story. The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter was inspired by real-life lighthouse heroine Abbie Burgess, and the gardens at Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse.


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