This is a box set of five fun stories featuring Basil, who lives in the cellar of Sherlock Holmes’ house. Until recently, I had no idea that one of the most underrated Disney animated films, The Great Mouse Detective, was based on this series, so when I finally discovered this I naturally wanted to read them! The age recommendation on the Simon and Schuster box is 6 – 9, which I think is a little ambitious as the language is more formal than in most books for children and there are references which many of them will not know.
Although I’m not a huge fan of the Holmes stories, I enjoyed the Basil books, which are charmingly illustrated by Paul Galdone (the covers are updated illustrations by David Mottram). The titles are Basil of Baker Street, Basil and the Cave of Cats (originally Pygmy Cats), Basil in Mexico, Basil in the Wild West and Basil and the Lost Colony. They were originally published between 1958 and 1982. The narrator is Dr David Q Dawson (the equivalent to Watson), except for part of one book where he is kidnapped and the narration is taken over by Basil. I like how the mouse world is so sophisticated and the humans have no idea. Basil manages to foil the plots of his nemesis, Professor Ratigan (the equivalent to Moriarty), but the villain always escapes, leaving the series open for further adventures. Indeed, three more were written by Cathy Hapka a few years ago and published with covers to match the original five.
In summary, these are great short reads which are worth tracking down.