50 to 56 though 9-12 age range children will probably say more.
By Paul W Robinson
978191017662 7 Paperback £12.50 Published by Shieldcrest
New writers come from all directions, with or without experience of their subject and audience but often with abundant enthusiasm for their subject. Paul Robinson shows both depth of experience and enthusiasm in all his subjects within a well constructed and satisfying crime collection using the basis of ‘new’ Holmes and Watson characters. Paul Robinson has put together short stories that follow a developing relationship between two youngsters in a format of crime- fiction for what I would assume to be a top primary/middle school age reader.
The first story introduces the main character and following intros to the additional friends in the detection stories. As that is what the stories are. Charlie(Charlotte) is deaf and makes friends with another girl (Jo), also deaf, which leads to the first ‘adventure’. The characters live in the real world and the stories follow events around their school and home life. Use and description of lip-reading and sign language (BSL) plus the variety of children in an inclusive school situation help set this book apart from the norm. There are five stories over 281 pages enabling the reader to take them in stages if preferred, however they all link together in a satisfying conclusion.
Every genre has its niche and maybe here is quite a small one and a world away from the current main streams of fantasy worlds. However the book is successful in its series of short detective stories for young readers. Quite a departure from the likes of Rowling, Walliams or Horowitz, though aimed at a slightly different age range. Each story is a realistic crime and involves Charlie, Jo and the police. The involvement of two as ‘detectives’ being the key additional elements. The element of deduction holds up very well in true Holmesian tradition. Teamwork and ingenuity bring the book to a satisfying conclusion. It seems to me a good addition to the realms of Holmes and Watson for 9 to 12 age range readers and no bar to older.
The author has worked with special needs children, especially deaf children for some forty years and now puts his experience into good practice for these stories to produce a wide range of real-world characters and experiences. As we have had a plethora of adult detectives and crime fighters with suggested special needs in their characters it is quite refreshing to have these areas positively identified and dealt with realistically within fiction for and about children. The children’s individual characteristics are usefully used and explanations are where required for readers and importantly are encompassed naturally within the stories.
Published by a small publisher, Shieldcrest, in conjunction with the author. A follow-up novel is promised.
Available via Amazon or to order through booksellers.
For a superb explanation of autism see the book Uniquely Human by Barry Prizant,, a previous Graph Review.