When I first read a bit about the Enola Holmes book I was intrigued and thought it might appeal to my daughter – I thought the fact that it was about a fourteen year old girl trying to solve a crime and set in Victorian England would be just perfect for her, so I agreed to get a review copy. And I have to say both my daughter and I read it and enjoyed it. We enjoy historical fiction and the fact that this is set in Victorian England and there is quite a strong theme running through it about how women were treated differently to men was interesting to both of us. My daughter also enjoys detective stories so it really did tick all the boxes for her.
On Enola’s fourteenth birthday her mother leaves her with a strange assortment of gifts (with some hidden clues inside) and she disappears. Straight away you get an image of Enola Holmes as being a somewhat unusual Victorian teenager, she is free-spirited, clever, quite physical for a girl and clearly has the intellect that everyone associates with her brother, Sherlock Holmes. Once it becomes clear her mother is not returning she contacts her brothers Mycroft and Sherlock and they come to try and sort out the mess and decide to send her to a finishing school, at which stage she runs away. Now it is up to her to figure out where her mom went, stay undetected and solve a few crimes along the way.
The story itself is fascinating. Enola Holmes is Sherlock Holmes younger sister. So they do bring in the characters of Sherlock, Mycroft and even Inspector Lestrade. But they really are side characters. This story is about Enola, how she has to come to terms with the way in which Victorian women were considered unequal to men and how she becomes independent.
The story deals with a lot of Victorian England themes – like the poverty and crime in the London streets, the huge contrast between countryside and city living, the differences in the society, the strange inheritance laws and how a son can end up having control over his mother. There really is a lot about Victorian England which comes through in this book. So if you are covering the Victorian period in your History this would be a great book to read with your kids.
I did go and look on the Oxford University Press site where they have resource pack about the book and in that pack they recommend it for Year 9 students. I have to admit if I was using this as one of our English reading books I would probably slot it at the end of Year 8 or Year 9. My reason for this is the fact that the book deals with lots of Victorian England themes, so I think it would be nice to read it when you cover Victorian England in History. And the writing style of the book has a bit of an older feeling to it, it uses some older words and just feels a bit more formal than most of the modern teen books. Having said that it depends on your kids. My daughter has always enjoyed historical fiction books or books written in a more classical style (she loved Little Women and Pride and Prejudice) so for her this would not be a stretch. Whereas my son prefers more modern writing style so for him I am definitely suggesting he leaves this book for another year or 18 months.
We have used quite and really enjoyed a few of the Free to download resource packs for the Rollercoaster books so I had a quick look at this one.
To start with you get an Introduction page (which emphasis key themes and talks about level of challenge), there is a Teaching Highlight page, then the Overview of the Scheme of Work and the Content Summary (I find these last 2 very useful as it gives me a good starting point and highlights what the pack is going to focus on).
Then you have your lesson plans (think of these as suggested ideas on what you can do). In some books we have stuck to the lesson plans and worked through everything they suggested and in other books we have just dipped in and out. Really it is up to you. And there are answers for everything at the back of the pack.
For each suggested lesson there is normally a resource. These resources are always varied – you get some reading type questions, some writing questions and normally a bit of research. With every pack the activities are always a bit different (so if you do end up working through more than one pack it is not going to be the exact same resources – we like this.)
The pack is in total 36 pages long and is totally FREE for anyone to download (you don’t need to sign up to anything to download the packs).
Honestly if we had discovered this book earlier we would have worked through the pack as part of my daughter’s Year 9 English Literature activities but she is starting her IGCSE English Literature activities so for now I will leave it until my son is in Year 8 or Year 9. But for anyone else home educating their kids it is worth having a look at the Rollercoaster packs on the Oxford University Press site. They always include lesson suggestions and a wide range of resources and they are ALL free to download.
Admin – Oxford University Press sent us a few books for us to read and write reviews about. Which books we write about and the opinions expressed are all our own. We were NOT paid for this post.