Some of my notes for Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz:
- Got this one because it looked totally charming and also because middle grade mysteries are the best so I had no idea it was actually a Sherlock Holmes reinterpretation. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted. Shirley Bones and Jamila Waheed are great successors (and also have great names).
- There’s even a Gregson and a Lestrade! They’re community pool lifeguards, naturally.⠀
- Loved Gillian Goerz’s art, especially her backgrounds: suburban landscapes that feel warm and welcoming and sprinkled with little details like lawn signs and other front lawn décor that I assume are very particular to the region of Canada on which this story is set.⠀
- Shirley Bones is a relatively straightforward incarnation of Holmes, but I appreciate the inclusion of her mother, who understands and encourages her daughter’s brilliance but understands she may seem eccentric to others and so is protective and watchful.
- Wonder if we will see Mycroft’s equivalent at some point? Or a Moriarty, even‽ This is the first in a series, so I hope we will!⠀
- The Waheed family is also great. I love their interactions and their general dynamic. They feel utterly real.
- Really loved that the focus in this story was more familiar and focused on a community rather than concentrating on two exceptional individuals.⠀
- Enjoyed the themes of friendship and alienation and how they tied in so well with a relatively simple case. Jamila is the new kid in town and has yet to make any friends — having an overprotective mother doesn’t seem to make things any easier, either. Shirley’s intellect distances her from most of her peers, who view her as weird and aloof and sort of rude (which, like any proper Holmes analogue, she sometimes can be). Kumi is bullied over her size and the fact that she often prefers the company of books over people. Angie’s health is vulnerable after going through cancer treatments and as such she is kept in a bubble by her anxious mother. She uses the analogy of being like an astronaut floating over the Earth — able to see, but not join in. I feel like this applies to most characters here. Even, to an extent, to the siblings Olive and Vee, who go to the pool to escape a hectic household. They’re too busy worrying over their situation in life to pay much attention to their surroundings, which is what sets off the case in the first place. It makes sense that all these lovable misfits get together by the end.⠀
- The next book in the series will come out later this year and seems to be fall themed. Goerz is a creator after this reader’s heart. Can’t wait to jump back into this world.