Books by Gillian
SHIRLEY BONES is the first in a proposed Middle Grade graphic novel series inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Set in modern-day Toronto and narrated by 9-year-old Jalaa Wahid, the basketball loving youngest daughter in a conservative Pakistani-immigrant family who – as in the original series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – is alternately fascinated and infuriated by her brilliant, mystery-solving friend Shirley Bones.
When Jalaa and Shirley first meet at a neighborhood tag sale, Jalaa is immediately impressed by Shirley’s powers of deduction: she knows instantly that Jalaa is a younger sister to two brothers, and that she’s passionate about basketball. Jalaa and Shirley quickly discover that they share the same dream of escaping their mothers’ summer plans for them: summer camp at the mosque, and dancing classes, respectively. So Shirley hatches a brilliant plan and gets Jalaa’s mom, Sahar, to agree that Jalaa can spend all day at the basketball court as long as Shirley is there too, an arrangement which allows Jalaa to pursue her passion while giving Shirley long stretches of time (and a place where the neighborhood kids can easily track her down) to practice her own crime-solving. Away from their parents’ protective eyes, the girls begin to forge a new relationship with the multi-cultural city they belong to, all while solving mysteries. In this first case, Shirley helps 8-year-old John and his 12-year-old sister Maggie find out who stole their iguana from the local pool. When the thief turns out to be a close neighbor, grief-stricken over the recent loss of her daughter, Jalaa, Shirley, John and Maggie are able to help her move on and expand their world in the process.
Over the course of this book, and ultimately the series overall, Shirley and Jalaa begin to forge a connection that will be transformative for both of them: in Shirley, Jalaa finds adventure, agency and a world away from the increasing pressure to align herself with her parents’ ideas of how a young girl should behave; in Jalaa, Shirley finds a conspirator, a voice of reason and an unexpected friend.