Sherlock Sam to come alive onscreen

Popular local children's book series on the boy detective is getting adapted for film and TV

Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez (both left), the creators of the Sherlock Sam series (above), look forward to hearing what their characters will sound like.
Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez (both above), the creators of the Sherlock Sam series, look forward to hearing what their characters will sound like. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Singapore-based creators of 10-year-old detective Sherlock Sam are excited to find out how he will sound when he takes shape in film and television adaptations of the popular local children's book series.

Adan Jimenez, who writes the books with his wife Felicia Low-Jimenez under the pseudonym A.J. Low, says: "We wonder what the characters will sound like. We have an idea of what they sound like in our heads when we write, of course."

The 33-year-old adds: "Keeping the essence and dynamics of the characters true to the books is pretty important to us, as is keeping the Singaporean aspects."

On Thursday, Singapore-based August Media Holdings announced that it has entered a licensing agreement with Sherlock Sam publisher Epigram Books to bring to life the intrepid and ever-hungry investigator Samuel Tan Cher Lock and his trusty robot sidekick Watson in adaptations for film and television.

The books are written for children aged eight to 12, illustrated by Singapore artist Andrew Tan and feature a mix of logic and offbeat humour. They are a hit across South-east Asia. There are 10 titles in the series so far and they have sold more than 60,000 copies in Singapore.

Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez, the creators of the Sherlock Sam series (above), look forward to hearing what their characters will sound like. PHOTO: EPIGRAM BOOKS

The first two titles - Sherlock Sam And The Missing Heirloom In Katong (2013) and Sherlock Sam And The Ghostly Moans In Fort Canning (2013) - were released in the United States in August by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Founder and chief executive of August Media Holdings, Mr Jyotirmoy Saha, 45, says: "The book series uniquely captures the quirks and spirit of multi-racial Singapore and South-east Asia. It's exciting to start work on this home-grown property and make it travel even more than it already has."

His company focuses on programmes for children and youth, with titles such as pre-school animated series Ella Bella Bingo, about the adventures of five-year-old Ella.

Mr Saha was introduced to the Sherlock Sam series when his 11-year-old son brought home an autographed copy of the book a year or two ago. He tells The Straits Times that the plan is to start with an animated TV series of 52 11-minute episodes.

"Animation has a versatility that allows easy transcending of geographical boundaries. We hope to immediately resonate with fans in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia even before we do any localisation to make it travel to the rest of the region."

A live-action TV special is also on the cards.

Mr Saha says the involvement of the writers is important for the development of the series, for it to "resonate equally with fans of the books".

He adds: "The other aspect that uniquely identifies Sherlock Sam are the illustrations. I hope to involve Andrew Tan as well in that respect, to help with the visual development of what will ultimately become the series."

Epigram Books chief executive Edmund Wee says: "Sherlock Sam is almost folklore to the kids of Singapore. We are delighted that we are going to be able to tell the stories through a visual medium too."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2016, with the headline Sherlock Sam to come alive onscreen. Subscribe