Friday, September 17, 2010

Mysteries for Kids (And Nostalgic Adults)

We have a huge storm thundering outside as I write this, and I am wondering if the power will last until I get this posted. If if doesn't, I have only myself to blame - I should have written this a couple of days ago, but no, I procrastinated and now look. Which just goes to show you should always listen to your mother.

Remember Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys? Trixie Belden? The Three Investigators?

My oldest recently discovered mysteries and isn't too interested in reading any other genre right now (except a break for Harry Potter, which could be considered a kind of mystery, I suppose.) Sure, she's been checking mysteries out at her school library, but oh, do I have some old favorites I can't wait to share with her!

The Clue of the Broken Locket (Nancy Drew, Book 11)Our bookshelves hold a few copies of Nancy Drew that I picked up at yard sales (the old hardbacks with the yellow spines.) She hasn't noticed those yet, but I plan to direct her attention that way, and pick up a few more if she's interested. The iconic girl detective has been around since the 1930s and is still going strong. I've reread the copies on my shelves, and I like how strong and independent Nancy is. I think she'll be a good role model for my daughter, which is always a good thing. As a kid, I always wanted to join Bess and George as one of Nancy's sidekicks.
The Secret of Skull Mountain (Hardy Boys, Book 27)
I don't have any of The Hardy Boys, so I've been looking around for a few. I discovered them a couple of years after I read my first Nancy Drew. Back then, I always viewed them as the male version of Nancy, made up so that the boys would have something to read. It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned that the two sons of Detective Fenton Hardy had been around since 1927. (Not that I ever cared if they were written for boys. They were just as much fun as Nancy Drew and besides - I had such a crush on Joe Hardy!)

The Gatehouse Mystery (Trixie Belden #3)Somebody gave me a Trixie Belden (The Gatehouse Mystery) at some point. It's the only one I've ever read. Something about a huge diamond and poison ivy. Strawberries and giant mosquitoes were in there somewhere, too, as I recall. It was very exciting, although I remember her friend Honey was rather annoying. Too, too girly, and not as adventurous as Trixie. I think I'll give my daughter some of those if I happen to run across any, but I don't feel inclined to go chasing them down.

Alfred Hitchcock & the Three Investigators in the Mystery of the Silver SpiderAlfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators were a later find. My junior high school library had a huge collection of those, and I tore through them. Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews were set up in business by Alfred Hitchcock. They had the greatest secret hideout, in the middle of junk yard, only accessible through a secret path. They had a limousine at their disposal! And I think they had cool gadgets, too. I've got a couple of those already, and I wouldn't mind checking out the local used books store for more. Heck, who cares if she wants to read them? I think I want to reread them!

What were your favorite mystery series when you were a kid? Are there any great characters I missed? Let me know!

Series: Nancy Drew, by Carolyn Keene
             The Hardy Boys, by Franklin W. Dixon
             Trixie Belden, by Kathryn Kenny
             The Three Investigators, by Robert Arthur, Jr.


Jaleh D said...

I'd forgotten all about the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. The only one I've read was the one with the screaming clock, but I remember that it was fun. I also read quite a bit of Nancy Drew, the older ones, not the Case Files. Didn't like those ones as well. Hardy Boys had also been fun when I picked one up. (And loved the couple crossover books with ND and HB together.)

There's another series that I've only read one book from, but I can't remember what it was called and it wasn't one of the ones you mentioned. Another one with three girls. They were still in high school, and much like in Nancy Drew, the leader's father was an attorney. The book I read was about her father handling an estate sale on behalf of a recent heir. Supposedly there were treasures hidden in the house, and the aviator heir gave them permission to hunt until the sale closed with the man who wanted the property to set up a horse ranch for teaching horseback riding. And this book is where I learned about ambergris, something gross and cool at the same time. I remember an awful lot of plot for drawing a complete blank on the names.

danya said...

I always liked the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries (although I was terrible at solving them!)

Cannwin said...

I gotta tell you, when I was a child I loved this book called 'The Case of the Vanishing Boy' by Alexander Keys.

I still have my old copy and was very excited when my girl read it.

She's in love with Fantasy though and I rarely can get her to read anything else. I've tried, but no such luck as of yet.

Other than that mystery/magical book I was always into the horses:

Black Beauty, Black Stallion, Return of the Black Stallion.

I didn't discover mysteries until Mary Higgins Clark which was as a teen.

Lisa R/alterlisa said...

I read all of these plus The Dana Girls and The Bobbsey Twins. i thought of one more "Encyclopdia Brown" those were mysteries too.


alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Cari Hislop said...

I lOVED the Blossom Culp stories by Richard Peck. One being 'Ghosts I have Been' (I'm sure there at least three books if not more...unless I'm remembering wrong. But they are mysteries.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder (My mother borrowed the record of The Witches of Worm from the library when I was about of the freakiest children stories (you'd have to hear the cat speaking to know what I mean)...but spellbinding!)

Carol Beach York (I Will Make You Disappear - and many more)

Jennifer said...

Oh, wow - the memories you all are bringing back!

Encyclopedia Brown - Loved those books! I never could figure out the answer, but it was always so obvious when I read the solution. Kind of like learning how a magician does a trick - you're completely mystified until it's shown to you and then you can't believe you didn't see it before.

The Case of the Vanishing Boy is one of my childhood favorites. Alexander Keys wrote some great books. It's a shame he's so hard to find anymore.

And Blossom Culp! How could I have forgotten about her?! I learned about the Titanic from those books.

Jaleh - That book sounds so familiar. The ambergris is striking a chord with me, but I can't remember anything else. Huh. Now it's going to bug me. :D

Cari Hislop said...

After you made me think about my favorite childhood mysteries I had to go order some...hopefully they won't get lost in the post.

It's not a mystery, but I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a replacement copy of The Maude Reed Tale by Norah Lofts. Because of that book, I was thrilled when I discovered I had late medieval wool merchants in my family. Fiction brought reality to life! The older I get the more I realize how powerful stories are. What makes us human? Stories! And who would we be if someone could erase all the stories we've ever heard from our minds...what would be left? Now that would make a weird Science fiction story! ;)

Julie said...

I can't believe no one else mentioned The Boxcar Children! Those were our favorites!


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