Thursday, July 17, 2008

No, I didn't name my kids Nancy and Ned Beeswax...but maybe I shoulda

When I finally talked Jake into getting my huge box of Nancy Drew books down from the attic this week, and Ross and Jane got a gander at all 60 or so of them, and their eyes lit up, and they got all excited and started reading the titles to each other, I thought: this is a great moment. My kids love my Nancy Drews. They are fighting over The Password to Larkspur Lane. They want to know, what could be The Clue in the Old Diary? They have already read through about 10 of them so far, including the Mystery of the 99 steps, the Clue in the Crumbling Wall.

Maybe I should have stuck with my original plan (cooked up nearly thirty years ago), and named my first and second born children Ned and Nancy. Turns out, they would have liked it.

I know I learned in my children's literature class at BYU that "plot drives us, but we learn from character." I know that Nancy is perpetually 19 and cruising around in her hot convertible, and perhaps is sort of a tease because she's led Ned on for nearly 80 years, only calling him when she's in a tight scrape and needs help or brawn that Bess and George can't provide, and not because she's had an epiphany and realized she can't live without him, or his romantic pecks on the cheek. I also know Nancy doesn't teach us anything about the human experience, beyond the awesome human experience of solving mysteries with clues that seem to fall right into your lap.

I know that Carolyn Keene is just a pseudonym, not for just one prolific lady, but for many ghost writers who fleshed out stories outlined by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, who also came up with the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys, as well as dozens of other series. Nancy was first published in 1930, just weeks after big daddy Stratemeyer's demise. His daughter took over from there. And I also remember the way my professor scrunched up his face like he smelled something rotten, as he tried to tell us we should dissuade our future pupils (I was an elementary ed major for 2 years) from reading stacks of Nancy Drew books to the exclusion of better, finer, potentially life-changing literature. But I don't care. My parents liked them (my Dad was strictly Hardy Boys as the party line went, but when he'd read through his school library's holdings, he said he secretly snuck a little Nancy home in his backpack.) I liked them. Now, my kids like them.

I ask, what exactly is wrong with literature that doesn't change your life? We don't expect so much of our television programming. I've got me a Stephanie Plum mystery (first try for me) for the beach this week, or there's Mary Higgins Clark, or I'm sure lots of others, that are Nancy for grown ladies. I also like me a little Dirk Pitt, occasionally, even though he's definitely aimed at the Hardy Boys demographic. Dirk's been macho and chauvinistic since the 70s, and who wants him to become a women's-libbing modern man? Besides N.O.W., of course. And probably all the ladies on The View, if they took a vote. Who else, but virile Dirk, is still in the mood for a little hanky-panky, in one of the water-logged staterooms on the just-raised Titanic, even with a fresh bullet wound? Nobody. Well, perhaps James Bond.

I'm certain, even if my Professor Sourpuss was not, that there's room for all sorts of books in this world. You might never win a Pulitzer, Dirk and Nancy, but we still love you. We like to take you to the beach, or on airplanes. We like to take you to bed with 2 pounds of See's chocolate when we've had a long, long day. Anyway, not that it is likely you ever would, since you haven't, yet: but, don't ever change.

Do you have a favorite Nancy Drew mystery? Or a good series in the same vein for grown ladies or gentlemen? Please share!

P.S. Sue, from navel gazing at its finest, started a Mormon Mommy Blog list, and she put me on it! You can be part of it, too. Go see it!

16 comments:

Molly said...

I remember when I first started reading Nancy Drew books when they would sell them at Costco, I would always get the ones with 6 books but I always wanted the complete set that had all of them! Your kids will like those, they are fun to read, especially at that age!

COMcewens said...

Well, I like the more doctrinal type books.. So I would say The series by Andrew Skinner. Gethsemane, Golgotha and the Garden Tomb.

Happy reading!

jt said...

Grama Mary reads the sue grafton mystery series, I think that's the one, the books all start with letters from the alphabet I think..."a" is for alibi, etc.


oh, ya, i nominated you for another blog list, 100percentcottam.blogspot.com a few posts back. Have you seen her blog?

The Fear Fam said...

Hi! I found you on LDS Women's Blogs and have been reading you for a little while. I just had to comment on this Nancy Drew post. I adore Nancy Drew and, like you, have the entire "original" collection. Not 1st editions, mind you, but all the old yellow-spined ones. You know what I mean. Once in a while, I'll still read one even though they are so ridiculous. They're fun... and what's life without a little fun?!? :)

I wrote a paper on the difference between the original Nancy Drew books and the new, contempory paperback ones for my college children's lit class. Luckily my professor was a fan... she gave me an A. :)

Thanks for sharing!
~Amy

Heidi said...

Can we be best friends now? I swear all of my random, bizarre knowledge can be traced back to different Nancy Drew novels.

Carol said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, sorry to hear you had to experience 1st hand the lack of Root Beer in the UK. Criminal I know!

I don't know how this is possible but I have never read a single Nancy Drew, is it too late to start now?

Fat & Sassy said...

As a little girl/preteen I read every Nancy Drew I could get my hands on back in the early sixties...I have kept them all...How fun that your kiddos love them! I'm glad you have received all of these nominations for all these different blogs because YOU ARE GOOD and I really enjoy reading you...how is Tommy's head? Enjoy the last couple weeks of summer...Kayola Skinner

Pam said...

Unfortunately I didn't get the same reaction from my kids when I pulled out my old copy (I could only find one) of Nancy Drew. I keep telling Kiana she would like it but she just doesn't have the love yet. I need your kids to give me the look of excitement that I know the book deserves.

One Sassy Mama said...

I read Nancy Drew in the day--but my greatest love was for the Trixie Belden series. I collected and read every single one of them (my mom sent them to DI when I went to college-curses!).
My daughter, Jordyn is a huge fan of Nancy Drew--she has collected up to #45 (and then Costco stopped selling them).
P.S. When I was pregnant with my twins--my mom BEGGED me to name them Ned and Nancy. She was such a fan!

Heather said...

A friend of mine just gave me a bag full of Nancy Drew books. Some old and some new. Sierrah hasn't read any yet??? I never read them as a kid, I hope Sierrah will get into them.

kitchenditcher said...

Nancy Drew used to be one of my favs when I was growing up. I too have the yellow spined books. Good, clean,light reading series is the Mrs. Pollifax series. I think "The Innocent Tourist" might be the first. It's been awhile since I've read them. I'm too embarassed to suggest the sultry books I occasionally read!!

Hailey said...

I loved Nancy Drew and Mila already has the set from Costco waiting patiently under her bed for me to accept the fact that she's old enough to read books where they talk about "boys." Also, Kacy and Lisa from "Light Refreshments Served" are my friends and I wish you could come hang with us...

Alyson said...

I never read Nancy Drew, but reading your post makes me wish I had.

speechteach said...

I loved Nancy Drew and just started re-collecting them via paperbackswap.com. I have six of them so far I think, but I've only read one. I loved it. And although the books may not philosophically change your life, my hope is to create a leadership program for girls based on Nancy Drew. I think she is a great role model and offers so many lessons for young girls! I started a blog to start the exploration. If anyone wants to stop by, please do! http://www.benancydrew.blogspot.com

MERRIANNE said...

BEESWAX...or whatever your first name is.....i love love love love NANCY DREW books! i have read all of them atleast 3 times
(once in Elem school, then High School, and again just about a year ago) i would check out 10 at a time from the library and have them read before they bacame over due.

anyway...

yes...i can get a little over excited :)

anyway...forever more we are soul sisters!

The Fear Fam said...

Me again! Thanks for visiting my blog, Beeswax! :) I just now noticed that you commented because that blog has been seriously neglected for a month while my family blog takes up my time. Anyway, I'm not sure about sharing PDF files, either. To show the portion of mine that I did, I did a "print screen" and then pasted it into MS Paint and chopped out what I didn't want. I'm SO technical. :) Hope that helps.

And now, I have to start drafting another post for that blog. You have (unintentionally) shamed me into action.