The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match
Being friends with a super sleuth isn’t easy, especially when she’s nine years old and four feet tall, and full of attitude. But for eleven-year-old aspiring writer John Watson, being friends with Shelby Holmes is just the adventure he’s looking for.
In the few weeks since moving to Harlem with his mom, Shelby has been training John in the art of observation–a skill that comes in hand on the first day of school. John’s new teacher, Mr. Crosby, is acting suspiciously, and Shelby knows this is a mystery worth investigating. But as Shelby and John dig deeper, they discover that there may be someone unexpected involved–someone who may have Shelby beat.
From internationally bestselling author Elizabeth Eulberg comes a feel-good sequel for fans of Kate Messner and Chris Grabenstein.
And here’s a VERY fun detective kit you can download to practice your sleuthing skills!
You’d think having a friend who’s a know-it-all would be annoying. And okay, at times it really, really is. But it can also be fascinating. And extremely helpful.
Especially if it’s your first day at a new school.
“I see Sasha’s parents didn’t take her to Greece like they promised,” Shelby remarked as we walked down the hallway at the Harlem Academy of the Arts. I followed her gaze to a white girl with her blond hair in a ponytail. There was absolutely nothing about this girl that would’ve led a normal person to think that Sasha didn’t go on some family vacation.
But while Shelby Holmes was many things, normal wasn’t one of them.
“How did you—” I began to ask before she cut me off.
“Like it isn’t obvious,” she replied with a huff. A teacher standing outside a classroom looked up from a folder. As soon as he saw Shelby, he quickly turned around, went into his classroom, and closed the door.
The only thing that seemed obvious to me was that there was a path being cleared for Shelby as we walked. I’d learned a few things from Shelby in the three weeks I’d known her. One was to make deductions based on people’s behavior. Right now, I was deducing that nobody in the school wanted Shelby to do that thing she did.
I also learned to listen to everything she says. And that she’s always right.
While she kept casually spilling the secrets of our classmates and teachers as we continued down the hall, I looked around my new school. From the outside, it looked like a standard school building: redbrick and nothing special. But as soon as we stepped inside, it was everything I’d hoped a charter school focused on the arts would be: the walls were covered with student artwork, music filled the halls, and there were tryout flyers up for the fall musical. There was even an entire glass display case filled with books. But they weren’t regular books found in other schools. These were the yearly anthologies the Academy put out featuring the best student writing.
Someday I’ll be in there, I hoped. Yeah, I could totally get used to a place like this. I had two classes where I got to focus on my writing. Two! And I was going to be staying here. No more moving for the Watsons. We were making New York City our home.
Of course that meant I really needed to make a good first impression, since I’d be sticking around. I was used to being the new kid. I mean, I’d spent all eleven years of my life moving from army post to army post. But this was my last day as the new kid at a new place. It was different.
Shelby grunted, which brought me back to her orientation of my new classmates. “Like it isn’t abundantly apparent she got kicked out of camp this summer.”
“Who are you talking about?” I glanced around the hallway.
“Watson,” Shelby said with a disapproving shake of her head. “What have I been telling you about observing?”
“I have been observing, but it would help if you could tell me how you know these things. Or, you know, start with who you’re even talking about.” My eyes swept my fellow classmates to find a clue about anything having to do with anyone at this point. I kept observing the same things as Shelby, but could never see what she saw.
“Fine!” she said with a groan. Her hand flew up and pointed to three girls talking by a locker. “Do you see how two of the girls have matching homemade rope bracelets? Standard last-day-of-camp fare. Pretty uninspiring if you ask me. Charlotte’s not only missing one, but notice the lack of color on her, unlike the other two.”
Yeah, the two other girls were more tan or whatever, but that could mean anything. How on earth did Shelby come up with someone being kicked out of camp?
Okay, I technically know how she did it. By deductive reasoning. But that doesn’t mean I fully understood it. What Shelby’s been trying to teach me to do is to assemble a list of likely scenarios based on observations, and then decide which option fit best. In the case of these three girls, the only scenario I had was that only one of them used sunscreen.
Shelby took my silence as ignorance. “I had to listen to them blather on and on last year about their horseback riding camp. So the missing markers of attending said camp were glaringly obvious on Charlotte.”
But I wasn’t here last year, so how could I have known?
“And no, you’re not off the hook simply because you weren’t here last year,” Shelby said as if she had read my mind. Maybe she had. “What can you tell by their interaction? Look closely,” she instructed me.
I studied the three girls. Hmmm . . . Now that Shelby pointed it out, the two tan girls were talking animatedly, moving around their hands, laughing and talking over each other. While the other girl shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, giving a polite smile every once in a while. So she didn’t know the story the others were telling. And appeared a little jealous of it.
Maybe Shelby was right. (Wait, there’s no maybe. She was right.)
“Okay, one girl feels left out, but still . . .” I could only see things once Shelby pointed them out. It was hard for me to put two and two together with basically nothing.
Shelby continued to walk down the hallway, while I tried to come up with more deductions.
“Maybe she has an allergy and couldn’t go?” I took a stab in the dark.
“She went the previous year. It was all she talked about at the beginning of fifth grade.”
“Oh, so you’re friends.”
Shelby stopped and looked at me with her patented look of disgust and aggravation. It was a look I’d gotten used to pretty quickly. “Friends? Oh, please be serious, Watson.”
I knew Shelby didn’t really think friends were important, but was it such a ridiculous assumption? Shelby was familiar enough with this Charlotte person to know she went to camp every summer. That would’ve required a conversation, wouldn’t it? Some friendly banter? She couldn’t decipher everything about a person by simply observing.
“Freak!” someone shouted in the hallway to the snickers of a few students.
On the other hand . . . maybe Shelby really didn’t have friends, since everybody at this school was aware of what she could do—most of her clients were her classmates—and seemed to want no part of her.
I don’t know. I just assumed everybody at school would think that she was weird (because she was) but still be impressed by her. I’ll admit that I thought she was just a freaky science geek when we met on my first day in our new apartment building. But once I got past her grumpy attitude, I respected her. Everybody in our Harlem neighborhood admires her for her abilities.
But instead, when Shelby walked by, shoulders tensed and voices lowered.
It didn’t take a genius of Shelby’s caliber to realize that she wasn’t well liked at school.
And here I was, on my first day, walking down the hallway with her. So much for a great start.
Stop it, John. I reminded myself that Shelby had helped me a lot during my first few days in New York City. We were friends. (Okay, she was my only friend here.) Plus, we were partners.
Shelby stopped dead in her tracks to the unease of the students around us. She was staring at a teacher who was in the hallway greeting students.
“The new science teacher, Mr. Crosby,” Shelby informed me, but there was an edge to her voice.
I ignored the stares from the kids around us as I waited for her to tell me about our teacher.
Shelby remained quiet, her eyes surveying Mr. Crosby. My guess was that she was building up tension, something she liked to do, for a dramatic reveal.
“Well?” I asked her, anxious to get to my first class.
Then Shelby Holmes, detective extraordinaire, said the three words I thought would never come out of her mouth.
“I don’t know.”
A Junior Library Guild selection
2018 Kansas NEA Reading Circle Catalog recommended book
“Charming and funny, this winning adventure also finds time for its middle school sleuths to develop real maturity.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Eulberg does an excellent job of character development and presenting realistic family and friend relationships. The satisfying conclusion leaves open the possibility of additional sequels. VERDICT Another fantastic addition to the series which will have readers anxiously awaiting Holmes and Watson’s next adventure.”
— School Library Journal
“In this sequel to The Great Shelby Holmes, both members of this sixth-grade detective duo are more distinctly drawn, more three-dimensional, and more believably vulnerable. Mystery lovers will enjoy these characters as much as the case they’re working to solve.”
BEHIND THE STORY
Every Shelby Holmes mystery starts with an original Sherlock Holmes story as inspiration. For The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match, I used Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia, which involves a blackmail case. But that’s where the similarities end. I did use another story, but I can’t say which because it’s a major spoiler!
This story has many twists and required a lot of research. I learned alongside Watson as Shelby teaches him different investigation techniques. I also know how to build a smoke bomb. So, watch out!
But one of my favorite elements of this story is the big twist. For those of you who are familiar with the Sherlock Holmes canon, you’ll spy something a lot quicker than those new to the case.
Either way, I hope you enjoy this story. It was the hardest one to write (so far!). I’m also sorry for what I do to Watson, but I’ve already said too much.