Here's another approach to Sherlock Holmes which is well worth the time of a child interested in mysteries. Most of us who have read the Holmes stories know that Sherlock has an older brother, Mycroft. We may not know, however, that he also has a much younger sister.
Welcome to the Enola Holmes books, written by Nancy Springer. This popular series began just a few years ago with the publication of "The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery." Enola - which is "alone" spelled backwards - was a late-in-life baby, more than 20 years younger than her brothers, whom she barely knows. Her father died when she was four years old.
On her 14th birthday, her 64-year-old mother disappears, without a word to anyone. It is some time before Enola will realize that her mother left a number of clues for her, including a couple of ciphers, for her to decode - clues that might help Enola find her mother. In the meantime, her brothers arrive and, tell her (rather patronizingly) that they will solve the mystery of their mother's disappearance. As for Enola, they intend to send her away to boarding school.
Not likely. Enola manages to escape and goes to London, determined to follow the clues and find her mother. Along the way, she becomes involved in solving another disappearance, the apparent kidnapping of the young Marquess of Basilwether. It is an investigation that will put her life in danger - and she must solve the mysteries without any help from her more famous brothers.
It is also a quite-fairly clued book. The ciphers - particularly the first two - are designed to let kids study them and quite probably solve them. And the other clues are given to them as they are given to Enola - just as they should be in a well-written and fairly clued mystery.
This is the first book in a series, written for fourth- to eighth-graders. Enola Holmes is a delight, as she becomes more and more self-sufficient over the course of the first novel (and, I presume, the later ones as well). Nancy Springer's view of the heavily male-dominated late Victorian age is pretty jaundiced, and Enola violates enough Victorian taboos in this book to make any nascent feminist happy - which is a good thing. By the end of the book, she will become a perditorian. What, you may ask, is that? You will have to read the book to find out. So far, Enola Holmes has appeared in five books, with a sixth due out this spring. My wife, a school librarian (who is having some trouble keeping enough copies on the shelf!) recommends these books heartily as a good way to get young readers, particularly girls, interested in mysteries.