Come Through the Magic Door with Me …¹
by Myrtle Robinson, ASH

Sometimes we embark upon a path whose outcome we may never know. I have always been interested in encouraging young people to read and hope they will include the Canon in that reading. The project described in this article was my brain-child and succeeded as I had

hoped it would. For the eighth graders in­volved, the seeds of interest have been sown. Who knows how many fledgling Sherlockians we have created?

In April 2002, the Hansom Wheels scion of the Baker Street Ir­regulars hosted a weekend of activities in Columbia, SC. Included in the program was an outreach effort to interest young people in Sherlock Holmes. We hope other groups will follow our example.


The following notice appeared in our brochure for The Intergalac­tic Sherlockian Weekend:


FOR THE YOUNGER GENERATION—In a competi­tion sponsored by the Hansom Wheels, eighth grade language arts students from two South Carolina schools are reading The Hound of the Baskervilles and will prepare projects to compete for prizes for themselves and their schools. Prizes will be awarded at the Satur­day luncheon at which winners and their parents will be guests.

Among our members is a high school mathematics teacher, Dr. Twyla Tuten, who lives and works in North Augusta, SC, approxi­mately 100 miles from Columbia. She was enthusiastic about my idea to have middle school students read HOUN as a project and enter a Sherlockian competition. She contacted schools around the state and two eighth grade advanced placement class teachers in North Augusta were interested. Our October approach was late be­cause teachers usually have their year’s plans in place in early summer. However, the schools had canceled a traditional trip to Washington because of September 11, and the teachers welcomed a project to fill the gap. They used HOUN in a study of Victorian life in general.

Since each student must have a copy of the book if it is re­quired reading, we ordered 92 copies of HOUN. Seventy-two came in and were distributed in early January with the other twenty arriving a week or so later. I’m told twenty youngsters were “champing at the bit” by the time they received their copies. At the teachers’ request, Twyla visited each school to give an introduction to the Canon, HOUN in particular, and some information about Doyle. In mid-March the project ended, and the teachers graded the entries and selected 60 “products” deemed suitable for the competition.


By March 31, Twyla had the entries. Jo Bradford, another Hansom Wheels member, and I participated in the judging. We found entries all about Twyla’ s kitchen and dining room, posters leaning against walls, and her computer prepared for viewing the PowerPoint entries. There were numerous post­ers, two 221B dioramas—one with Dr. Mortimer standing outside the door, models of Baskerville Hall, a plaster of Paris plaque, a collage of Sherlockian items, a board game, a model of the yew alley, and many more. Four entries were chosen, two from each class.


¹Arthur Conan Doyle, Through the Magic Door (Pleasantville, NY: The Akadine Press, 1999), p.5.


Fight Spam! Click here!