There are lots of Sherlock Holmes books for young kids, but none quite like Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Snowmen.
On my bookshelves, for example, you will find Basil of Baker Street and its sequels by Eve Titus, with illustrations by Paul Galdone. This wonderful series of adventures inspired Disney's classic film, The Great Mouse Detective, but I loved the books long before the movie was made.
I also have books featuring another mouse, Mickey, decked out in deerstalker hat and magnifiying glass, as well as books about Sesame Street's Sherlock Hemlock. For older children there are even books in which Sherlock Holmes himself is a character.
But Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Snowman, written by David Ruffle and delightfully illustrated by Rikey Austin, is unique in presenting Sherlock Holmes with a very young client and just such a case as a youngster might present. And the master sleuth solves it in fine form. It's rather sentimental, but this is the season for sentiment.
This book would be a perfect gift for the young Sherlock Holmes fans on your Christmas list. I know that my grandchildren will be getting a copy.
David Ruffle also wrote the Lyme Regis trilogy of adult Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Here, in his own words, are seven other things he would like you to know about him:
1. I always put my left sock on first. And then my left shoe.
2. Re socks: Hate them, detest them, can't abide wearing them. You get the picture.
3. When I was young I invented very detailed personas for my imagination to run riot with. I was Johnny Stevens, a secret agent. Johnny Norfolk, a star soccer player. I was also a Wild West cowboy on the side of the law... just! The Ringo Kid. (I rejected being a cowboy master of dialect, The Lingo Kid, or a communal game playing posse member, The Bingo Kid, or that rounder up of Australian mammals, The Dingo Kid.)
4. Although I favour rock music, particularly progressive rock of the seventies and forays into German industrial metal, my favourite song is "It Was A Very Good Year" as sung by Frank Sinatra.
5. I left school at 15 with no exams taken and no qualifications earned. I was semi-literate at best. (Don't say the obvious please!!).
6. My favourite scene from any movie is almost the last scene of "Yankee Doodle Dandy," where Jimmy Cagney dances down the staircase.
7. Although Lyme Regis is home, it was just nine years ago (almost) when I paid my very first visit here. After 36 hours here I decided it was going to be home.