This week, my 10-year-old daughter and I are reading The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene for a mother-daughter book club at the library. It got me thinking about how much I loved Nancy Drew as a child.
By no means would I categorize Nancy Drew as stellar children’s literature. However, Nancy Drew books are great for those children who are avid readers, who can read through a book a day if they have a mind to do so.
Nancy Drew is a recent high school graduate who helps her father, a lawyer, solve mysteries. Mysteries seem to follow Nancy where ever she goes. She always finds herself in some sort of danger, and yet is able to keep her emotions in check and figure a way to ‘save the day.’
As a child, I always wanted to be Nancy Drew – perfectly popular, smartly dressed, driving a sports car and solving mysteries. Nancy is so polite and thoughtful, concerned with others before herself.
As an adult, I know she’s too perfect to be real, but what a great role model for our girls today. My girls and my boys have enjoyed listening to several Nancy Drew books as we drive around town – the books have enough adventure that my boys aren’t too bored by the descriptions of Nancy’s beautiful hairdos and pretty dresses.
Plus, I get a kick out of the descriptive prose. I can’t help but chuckle at:
“Titian-haired Nancy was a trim figure in her olive-green knit with matching shoes. Beige accessories and knitting bag completed her costume. Bess wore a pale-blue cotton which showed off her deep suntan to advantage.”
Nothing wrong with it, but it definitely dates the book some. What also dates the books is the lack of technology. Our family doesn’t mind it. In fact, listening to Nancy Drew books has brought up some great discussions about what life used to be like.
In the first book, Nancy has to drive several places unexpectedly and the housekeeper, Hannah, is worried about her. My six-year-old said, “Why doesn’t she just call Hannah on her cell phone?” Well, son…
I’d encourage you to stick with the original books. There are updated versions, graphic novels, and short chapter books based on Nancy Drew. But the reprinted, original hardbacks are inexpensive and delightful. Formulaic, yes, but fun for those who love to read.
I’d list all the books in the series, but there are at least 40. Each story stands alone, although there are some relationships developed throughout the books, so reading them in order is good too. The first book is The Secret of the Old Clock.