It’s My Party, and I’ll Read What I Want To

26th April 2012

First day of kindergarten. Yeah I was reading Cabbage Patch Kids. Got a problem with it?

Me, bro, and sis. I’m totally rocking that frizzy side pony.

Well today I am…a certain number of years old. When I spontaneously joined the Readathon last Saturday, I also called it #projectbirthday. Why? I’d noticed several bloggers posting about random middle grade books from when they were young, and each time I would comment, “I’d love to go back and read some of my favorite books from when I was young.” So I did.

I chose one Trixie Belden, one Nancy Drew, and one Babysitters Club to see how they’d stack up. Lori of TNBBC was worried for me because she’s had a couple bad experiences rereading childhood favorites. But I loved it. I can totally see why I went through these books like crack.

First up: Trixie Belden and The Mystery in Arizona by Julie Campbell

Trixie is in a spot of trouble. Her grades are falling. Again. And it’s horrible timing because Di’s uncle has invited them to his dude ranch for Christmas. When Trixie’s parents agree to let her go if she’ll play catch up, all the Bobwhites are thrilled. As soon as they step off the plane, though, there’s even more trouble. It’s a busy time at the dude ranch, and Uncle Monty’s staff, the Orlando family, has disappeared without a word of warning. Fearing they’ll be sent home, Trixie comes up with a solution. She and the Bobwhites will take on the extra work. But manning the dude ranch is nothing compared to finding out why the Orlandos left so abruptly and why people at the dude ranch are acting so oddly.

If you haven’t heard of Trixie, check out her website. I first heard of her when one of my mom’s friends recommended we visit a garage sale that had a good collection. Her friend knew I loved Nancy Drew and thought I might like Trixie. So at ten cents a pop, I bought about ten of them.

What was it like to go back? It was funny how much of the story I actually remembered. What I didn’t remember was the didacticism. Much of the first 60 pages of this book are couched in Trixie having to write a theme paper on the Navaho tribe with lots and lots of information about the customs of the Navaho. It wasn’t horrible, but I kind of just wanted to skip past all of that, especially because it’s so dated. But I forgot how much I loved Honey and the gang. They’re such a fun hodge podge group!

Next: Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew witnesses a mishap as she’s driving home to River Heights. A little girl loses her balance and falls into the river when a van nearly hits her. Nancy rushes to her aid, and Judy’s two aunts come rushing out. Nancy discovers that the movers stole from the aunts and that the two women can’t afford to have their family heirlooms taken from them. Their relative Josiah Crowley had promised to take care of them in his will, but he recently died and willed everything to the Tophams, a horrid family in River Heights. Nancy is curious, and becomes more curious still when she meets several others who were told by Mr. Crowley that he would provide for them. There is rumor of a later will, and Nancy is determined to find it, even if it means placing herself in danger.

What was it like to relive my first mystery with the sleuth? Ah, Nancy Drew, thank you so much for not being horrible. I was worried, guys. I adored these books. I even read the Nancy Drew Case Files books when I got a bit older. The mystery is straightforward and simple, but it’s still fun and interesting. The language isn’t as easy as I thought it would be, so I consider that a plus in a young reader book. And Nancy is so good. She wants to help this person and that. She’s very altruistic. I had to laugh, though, when Nancy is caught out by the bad guys and all they do is lock her in the closet. So tame. But I also read the next one, The Hidden Staircase, and I can tell the complexity of the mysteries will increase.

Here, too, I remember exactly what happened, but the strange part was the things I had forgotten. Where the heck were Bess and George? I always remembered them (or so I thought) from the first book. Not so. They’re not in the second book either. Her friend Helen is. Of course, sweet Hannah Gruen is there, but no Bess and George. Hmm.

Last: Good-bye, Stacey, Good-bye by Anne M. Martin


Stacey is finally comfortable in Stoneybrook. Her diabetes is under control; she’s part of the Babysitters Club, and her very best friend is Claudia. Life is good. As a BC meeting wraps up one night, her mom calls her to come home immediately. Worried something has happened, Stacey goes home, only to find that after only a year in Stoneybrook, her dad is being relocated to New York. Stacey is torn. She had a best friend in New York, but she also had some mean girls to deal with. When she breaks the news to the club, they’re upset about losing their friend and worried about the club’s future. It’s grown so much. How will they survive? And most importantly, what is the perfect going away gift?

This book was definitely the simplest of the three. Written from the perspective of the different girls and their notes in the BC log book, they’re typical 8th grade girls. Remember how the log book had different handwriting for each member? And Claudia’s horrific spelling? And was it Dawn who added hearts to her i’s?

What was it like going back? I wasn’t disappointed. Though these aren’t books I would probably re-read again, it was still an addictive story, especially when you read the series. You love those characters. At one point, my heart lurched a bit because they mention Logan Bruno. Logan Bruno! I remember having a crush on him. Craziness.

I also really enjoyed the inventiveness of the group. I remember the Kid Kits, and I always thought they were so cool. These were the days of Lisa Frank stickers, my friends. Remember those?

********

My trip down memory lane? I give it sparkly birthday candles. I had so much fun, and these books were such fast reads. I can remember haunting the library for new books in each series and getting so impatient that I would save all my money to buy the next in the series. Therefore, I have a bunch of the later Nancy Drew and Babysitters Club books that I bought after the library stopped being able to keep up with my pace. Luckily, I also have garage sale hard copies of some of the early Nancy Drew books.

Project Birthday is complete. Now where’s my cake? ๐Ÿ™‚

 

  • Steve Z

    I won’t say “Mystery in Arizona” is my favorite Trixie book, but it’s up there. This blog made me go out to “Goodreads” and look at the reviews, where several people take it to task for all the Mexican/Indian stereotypes/language, which you mention much more kindly as “dated.” I have to agree with you, for me it’s almost endearing, particularly given how the entire Trixie series is flooded with such a pure lack of any aggression or mean-ness, so it’s somewhat silly that people would project that sentiment onto it, even when the language isn’t politically correct according to today’s standards…

    • Exactly. I think that certainly they could be updated easily if someone could/wanted to, but they’re really such gentle books that it didn’t make me crazy. Plus, the goal behind it is education, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. You have an NA woman as a flight attendant, correcting the children’s stereotypes and talking openly about her culture. Pretty cool.

  • To this day I want to name my child Logan. As a daughter’s name, but it DID come from the Babysitter’s Club. Though husband nixed it. . . sad day.

    • Yesss. But seriously. I had completely forgotten about Logan Bruno, so when I saw that name, my heart flip flopped a little bit.

  • Happy birthday. Nice idea to read the childhood favorites. I’m glad they didn’t disappoint.

    Hope you have a great day today!

    • Thanks, Judith! I’m so glad, too. It was a risk, but all in all, I’m so glad I went back. It was really fun, and I may have to sneak a Nancy Drew into my reading now and again.

  • First, of course, happy birthday!

    I love that you enjoyed these rereads. I saw you mention them and began to worry that when you wrote about the books it would be all disappointment and “where’d the magic go?”…because, like probably every 20- to 30-something woman in the States, I can’t help dreaming about revisiting nancy drew, the babysitter’s club, & sweet valley twins. I never got too into Trixie Belden, but after reading your post I AM getting excited to dig out my boxes of Nancy Drew mysteries. I’d have expected Babysitter’s Club to hold up the worst of the three, but I’d still love to go back and get a look at all the things I’d forgotten, some of which you mention here – the different handwritings, the way the narrative was turned over to different characters.

    • Thanks, Ellen! I was never a Sweet Valley girl, but I certainly loved the others. I was worried, too, but it just goes to show the staying power – at least in Trixie and Nancy. To be able to enjoy them all these years later is really a treat.

      Isn’t it funny how quickly you remember those things – the handwriting, etc.?

  • I did this a couple years ago! I sat down and wrote down as many non-series books that I read as a kid as possible, even snippets of plots when I didn’t remember the titles. Then I went and tried to find and reread them all. There are still a few I haven’t gotten to, but for the most part, it was a fantastic trip down memory lane. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m glad you got to do something similar, too!

    Happy birthday!

    • Well, I have hunted for The Dollhouse Murders because, I think, Trish posted about it not that long ago. I remember loving that book, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I need to order it. I think it’s 99 cents on B&N.com.

      Anyway, it really was a ton of fun. Plus, I’ve had all the books in my closet for the last few years, and I added them to my bookshelves. Why not? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Julzreads.wordpress.com

    Happy birthday, Jenn! Did I mention it’s The Hubs birthday too?

    • No! That is so cool. ๐Ÿ™‚ And thanks for the birthday wishes.

  • Happy happy birthday! I know it’s sacrilege, but I could never get into Nancy Drew. I think I read the very first book in her series and that was enough. But I LOVED me some BSC… I was super obsessed, to the point where I had the boardgame (which was played a lot at slumber parties), the videos, and my friend and I even tried to start our own BSC. These were also the books that taught me what it meant for a book to be formulaic, as I eventually learned I could always skip Ch2 as it just described the various members. I eventually got to the point where I was reading 2 a day, and it dawned on me that it was probably time to start reading other, more substantial things. So glad you had a good traipse down memory lane!

    • Thanks, Steph! And I had the board game too! *shouts excitedly* I loved it. Yeah, they were fast. That’s why I loved the Super Summer ones. They were so much longer!

      (And I don’t know if we can be friends anymore. You didn’t like Nancy Drew? Did you pick them up when you were too old for them, maybe? I NEED A REASON.) ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Happy birthday! What a great idea for a reading project. I never read any Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew as a kid, but I was crazy about the babysitters club. I wanted to be Stacey when I grew up ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks, Brenna! It was really fun. In fact, I’m thinking of doing a Nancy Drew challenge.

      Ah, the BSC. I could never decide. I wanted to be the best of all of them. I wanted *some* of Claudia’s artsiness without the bad grammar. I wanted Dawn’s hair and carefree attitude, I could go on…

  • Happy belated birthday! That sounds like so much fun. I loved Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew growing up too – I somehow missed Trixie Belden. But I’d have to include Little House on the Big Prairie on my list. I loved those books. I’m glad you had so much fun and still enjoyed all the books!

    • Today IS my birthday, Meghan, so thanks for the sweet wishes. As for Trixie, she never reached popularity of Nancy Drew, but they’re great little mysteries. What’s funny is, when I pulled all these books out of the box, the Little House books were in there too! I did enjoy them, but I don’t remember them as much as the others.

  • heidenkind

    Aw, happy birthday! I love those pictures of you.

    I didn’t read a lot of Nancy Drew when I was a kid. I think I read a few (?). The books I really remember are The Ghost Wore Gray and Bunnicula, which was the first book I read all by myself. I love The Ghost Wore Gray, and I still have my copy! Maybe I’ll reread it.

    • Bunnicula! I read that at a 2nd or 3rd grade slumber party – we all did – and then we couldn’t sleep all night long. We spooked ourselves silly. I’d love to reread that one!

  • Ooh! Happy belated birthday! Hope you had a great day.

    Your post brought such a huuuge smile to my face. I remember the side pony I used to have as a kid. I used to feel like a queen bee ๐Ÿ˜€

    I know I read some Trixie Belden but I don’t remember any of it. Nancy Drew though was huge, and I especially loved those case files. I did find Ned Nickerson somewhat moronic though. Gosh! I still remember his name haha

    • Thanks! And yea – another side pony wearer. ๐Ÿ™‚

      And Ned Nickerson! I had forgotten his last name. He wasn’t in the first two books either.

  • TNBBC

    Just catching up … I know I wished you a happy Bday on Twitter, but I had to leave you a (belated) wish here too! And hooray for the childhood-memories-readathon success!! SO happy you rekindled your love of your old faves!!

    • Me too! I’m so glad it wasn’t disastrous like your experience. It was fun. And thanks again for the bday wishes.

  • I absolutely adored the Trixie Belden books – I had the whole series! Makes me want to read one again and see if I still like them, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • How fun! I need to re-read some of my old favorites. I was a huge Nancy Drew fan and I may or may not have had a crush on Ned Nickerson.

    I have to sheepishly admit that I totally made a Kid Kit for when I was babysitting. I was such a dork. But those books, were totally like crack for me. I devoured those BSC books. I think I had a special affinity for Kristy. Partially because of the shared name, but I was a sporty tomboy too.

    • pickygirl

      Kid Kits were such a great idea! I always wanted one, and of course, I had all the supplies. But I didn’t babysit enough to be able to do it.

      Ned! I know, especially in the Nancy Drew Case Files books, he was a hottie.