Well, Constant Reader, I hope you had a lovely Christmas holiday. I know I did; I got some lovely gifts, and spent only a few hours per day working on writing. Most of my time was spent in my easy chair, reading and binge-watched Season One of Elementary and Season 2 of Once Upon A Time (why did no one tell me about the hotness that is the actor playing Hook? SO disappointed in everyone).
What was I reading, you might ask? I was reading this:
As Constant Reader is aware, when I was a kid I read many of the mystery series for kids: Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames, Vicki Barr, The Three Investigators, Ken Holt, Rick Brant, the Dana Girls, Trixie Belden, Chip Hilton, Biff Brewster, Judy Bolton, and Kay Tracey, among many others. I still have my copies; and in the years after Hurricane Katrina I spent a lot of time (and money) on eBay finishing my collections. As an adult, I've become more and more interested in the history of these series; and reading the background of them is interesting.
Nancy Drew was the first one I discovered. I think it was fourth grade, and in the back of my classroom there was a table with kids' books stacked on it. We were encouraged to borrow the books; I had already started reading mysteries that were stand-alones that came from the Scholastic Book Catalogue we got every other week (I may be wrong about the frequency). There aren't many of those I remember, or the ones I checked out from the library other than Mystery By Moonlight and The Mystery of the Pirate's Ghost (that title may be wrong; but it had to do with a coastal home in New England that had been used for smuggling during colonial times); but I distinctly remember finding two books on the table with yellow spines: The Secret of Red Gate Farm and The Mystery at Lilac Inn.
I enjoyed them; the first was about counterfeiting and the financial troubles the owners of Red Gate Farm were having; the second about a jewelry theft, money troubles at Lilac Inn, and someone committing fraud by impersonating Nancy Drew.
Of course, my parents were horrified that I was reading books about a girl; the result of this was a gift of the first three volumes of the Hardy Boys. I was actually forbidden to read any more Nancy Drew books; this drove me to read the Hardy Boys and other series about boys...but also served to make the Nancy Drew books and other books about girl detectives all the more attractive to me. Eventually, at some point it stopped mattering so much to them and I was able to read whatever I wanted; but the sense of Nancy Drew being contraband never really went away.
The great irony, of course, was that neither the Nancy Drew series nor the parentally approved Hardy Boys series were my favorites--Trixie Belden and Judy Bolton were, in my opinion, superior to Nancy; and The Three Investigators were far superior to ALL series.
But Nancy and the Hardys were always easier to find; practically any store that carried books for kids carried them and the other series weren't quite as easy to locate.
I also read this:
as well as this:
As a kid, I became interested in writing mysteries because of these series. I even planned out a series of my own, coming up with characters and a hometown and titles for them. I even wrote one when I was about nine years old--alas, it was lost over the years.
But reading these non-fiction works about kids' mystery series has been interesting, and has made me think about that some more. I know Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and possibly Trixie Belden, have continued coming out with new books year in and year out; but are there newer series for kids?
It also has me thinking about doing a non-fiction study of the Three Investigators.
And now back to the spice mines.
Fascinating. I never read any of these series - perhaps they weren't so big in the UK? I think The Famous Five and The Secret Seven were more popular over here. I loved The Famous Five and even wrote a children's adventure story - Six Kids and the Fake Fortune - when I was 18. Nothing came of it, of course, (the editor I sent it too wasn't 'sufficiently enthusiastic.') Ha! What did she know..? Writing it was a fun experience.