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? 🙂