Xiao Ming, Boy Sherlock

Xiao Ming, Boy Sherlock

John Pasden and Jared Turner

BREAKTHROUGH LEVEL (150 unique characters)

  • Paperback & ebooks (Simplified)
  • Amazon 50ibooks_icon 50kobo_icon
  • Paperback & ebook (Traditional)
  • Amazon 50ibooks_icon 50kobo_icon
  • Audio Book:
  • 50ibooks_icon 50kobo_icon

Even at a young age, Xiao Ming (boy Sherlock Holmes) has a reputation among his peers for his keen powers of observation. His budding skills are put to the test when he is tasked with finding a thief at school. However mysteries always seem to find him when strange fires start out of seemingly nowhere and a classmate begins anonymously receiving flowers from a secret admirer. With the help of his older brother, Xiao Ming employs his skills of wit and deduction to unveil the truth hidden behind every mystery.

Adaptation Notes

Any learner that has managed to learn 150 Chinese characters knows it is not an easy task, and the prospect of reading a real text in Chinese seems discouragingly faroff. Typically textbook dialogs are the only reading material available for years on end. That’s why being able to read an actual story with only 150 Chinese characters is a very big deal, and a huge help to the fluency development of early-stage learners.

The stories told at this 150-character Breakthrough Level are special, however. Nouns, verbs amd adjectives at this level are in short supply, and the stories revolve around the limited vocabulary by necessity. This is why Breakthrough Level stories are not adaptations of western classics. They are original stories co-written by John Pasden and Jared Turner, specifically designed to be engaging to readers despite the limitations.

This story also ties into the larger “Mandarin Companion Universe.” You’ll read about how young Gao Ming (Sherlock Holmes) got his start and, as an added bonus, the name he goes by in this story is even a very common boy’s nickname used in traditional Chinese stories. If you’re curious how things turn out for him, you’ll definitely want to prepare to read The Case of the Red-Headed League, a Mandarin Companion Level 1 story. For those who can read this book at an enjoyable pace, you are already well on your way towards progressing to the Level 1 stories.

Sample of Xiao Ming, Boy Sherlock









  1. 中饭 zhōngfàn n. lunch
  2. 的时候 de shíhou phrase when…
  3. 可是 kěshì conj. but
  4. 看到 kàndào vc. to see
  5. 早上 zǎoshang tn. morning
  6. 出门 chūmén vo. to go out the door, to go outside
  7. 外面 wàimian n. outside
  8. 星期 xīngqī n. week
  9. 上面 shàngmian n. on, on top, above
  10. 名字 míngzi n. name
  11. 喜欢 xǐhuan v. to like
  12. yòu adv. again, and also
  13. v. to be afraid (of)
  14. xiào v. to laugh, to smile
  15. 办法 bànfǎ n. way (of doing), solution

I’m trying to improve my Mandarin and this was the best book to start with. The stories are interesting and it just motivates me to learn even more Mandarin characters and phrases. It’s a fun way to learn it too!

Delfhin Goh, Amazon review

This book was Elementary my dear reader (and that is just what we need)

I do enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories and this brings HSK 1 characters into a new set of material. I have devoured the whole series this week, and have started into “Level 1.” I find the whole series to be of the highest quality.

In the “breakout level” this story instead chooses a vignette style which is a departure from the others, but is in keeping with the Holmes genre. I loved it, the possibility of new words from character combinations I had not yet learned is so satisfying.

– Adam Graham, Amazon review