Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock

Tundra. (Who Wrote Classics). Oct. 2022. 56p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780735269255.
Gr 3-5–This biography covers Arthur Conan Doyle’s life from early experiences with the delights of storytelling in an otherwise difficult childhood to (in the afterword) his controversial later belief in spiritualism—but it centers so thoroughly on the sometimes contentious relationship between the author and his most famous creation that none of his (many) other works are even named. Additionally, his private life as an adult is relegated to a single, late sentence in the main narrative that is barely elaborated on in the back matter. Along with a truly terrifying Hound (of the Baskervilles), Follath supplies in a mix of fictional and real-world settings actively posed figures of the great detective, his inventor, and excited readers, all in proper Victorian dress. However, though she does include a visual nod to Doyle’s worthy public campaign to free a British citizen of Indian descent who was wrongfully convicted of a crime, adding dark-skinned people to nearly every group scene (including even young Doyle’s class of fellow school children) creates a misleading impression of racial diversity, or if actually accurate requires an explanatory note.
VERDICT Well-intentioned though this may be, it bombs—both because the pictures convey an improbable racial mix for the depicted times and places, and because fans of the original stories will find more value in fuller introductions to the author’s life and works.

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