Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nancy Drew #16: The Clue of the Tapping Heels

I had a lot of trouble enjoying much of the revised text of Nancy Drew #16, The Clue of the Tapping Heels. I recall that I enjoyed this book as a child, but for some reason, I found it difficult to be interested in the story during this reading. This could have something to do with reading it right after I finished The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy.

Nancy is told about a mystery of strange tapping noises at Miss Carter's home, but instead of throwing herself into solving the mystery, she spends half of her time in River Heights in order to rehearse for a talent show. This makes the story disjointed and a bit uninteresting.

Nancy and Ned are both attacked during rehearsals for the talent show, and during one rehearsal, some of the costumes are set on fire. These events seem so contrived to me.

Like with the revised text of Broken Locket, this book was written by someone who had no understanding of cats. Early in the book, Miss Carter's cats have just been frightened by an aggressive, barking dog. Miss Carter calls each cat by name, and the cats immediately climb down. The text states that the girls were "amazed that the woman had such good control over the cats." I am amazed as well. A cat will never forget its fright and respond to a command. In fact, a cat will never obey any command.

On page 98 of the revised text, Mr. Simpson recalls having met a Mr. and Mrs. Woonton in St. Louis and that he had heard that they had passed away. Nancy wonders if they could be the same Woontons as Gus's parents. On the next page, Nancy phones her father who states that he will talk to the Beverly, the home where Gus had been sent before he ran away. Nancy's father calls back shortly to tell her that the owner of the Beverly was surprised to learn that the Woontons are dead.

I feel like I am missing something. I can assume, perhaps, that the owner of the Beverly knew that the Woontons had been in St. Louis, so that is why he was certain they were the same people as Gus's parents. However, I got the impression that nobody had any idea what had happened to the Woontons.

In the revised text, Nancy, Bess, and George find the secret room in the basement. George's hand is hurt when her finger gets caught in a mousetrap. On page 115, Mrs. Bealing concludes that the trap was set in order to hurt somebody. She continues, "Incidentally, I don't see how any mice could get into that room downstairs." Exactly how does Mrs. Bealing know this? Mice are capable of going anywhere they want. Mrs. Bealing's comment is stupid.

The revised text books make a point of mentioning church attendance, but at times, mentioning church comes across as a bit strange. On page 144, Mrs. Bealing tells Nancy that her church plans a special service that day. Next, "Suddenly she asked Nancy, 'Do you always go to church?'" This strikes me as a rather odd statement to show up in the middle of the text.

In the revised text, Miss Carter sells the Persians for income. In the original text, Miss Carter is a cat hoarder with around 25 cats roaming free all over the neighborhood and all over her home. I always find it amusing how the revised text books purposefully whitewash everything. We just can't have weird people in these wholesome children's books.

The story with Mr. Bunce makes less sense in the revised text. Bunce's relationship with the Woontons is not explained, but somehow Bunce is executor of the Woonton estate. In the original text, Bunce was Mr. Woonton's secretary, which sets up the relationship that logically would have caused Bunce to be the executor of the Woonton estate.

Deciding which text I like better is hard for this title. I really like how Nancy, Bess, and George stay at Miss Carter's house in the revised text. They find the secret room in the basement. I always enjoy reading about secret rooms! The setup of the revised text Tapping Heels reminds me a lot of Hidden Staircase.

The trouble with the revised text is that Nancy keeps leaving Miss Carter's house to participate in the talent show. Gus Woonton follows her most times and tries to get either Nancy or Ned injured. I did not enjoy the talent show part of the plot at all.

The original text is written much better, and I don't find the characters making stupid statements all the time. Unfortunately, Nancy, Bess, and George spend almost no time at Miss Carter's house.

During part of the original text story, Nancy and George follow a colored man with freckles (for some reason this description sounds ridiculous to me) to an Egyptian temple where he gets his fortune told. Nancy and George pass out from the incense, and then the owner decides to kidnap them. This part takes up a good portion of the story and comes across as a bit strange. It could easily be inserted into the middle of a Kay Tracey book, which is the problem. This part does not seem like Nancy Drew.

My conclusion is that both texts are flawed. The perfect story might have existed if Mildred Wirt Benson could have written the revised text story. She probably would have made the talent show part of the plot read a lot better.

Even though I have problems with both texts, my vote is in favor of the original text because it is written better. I do like the main plot of the revised text better, but the choppy writing takes too much away from it.

7 comments:

Idylatoo said...

My first impression is that she had a cattery and wasn't a hoarder but a breeder in one of the versions...maybe both?

One of my cats will - unless she's eating - come when she's called. The other won't, but she's a bit prissy. I think it's plausible that cats can respond to commands, but I think it's better for writers to go with popular belief if they're not going to explain WHY the cats respond that way. All it would have taken is a short dialog exchange instead of the third person amazement.

Anyone can have freckles. =)

I need to re-read, but I kind of want to say that the talent show seemed more believable in the original since in those books Nancy was more of a socialite than she is in the revised books.

The church thing bugs me. I think it's even more awkward in the revised version of Haunted Bridge.

Jennifer said...

It's true that anyone can have freckles. I think the problem is that there is a Dana Girls book that has a colored man with pale or white splotches on his face, and this description reminds me of that description. It also doesn't help that Ned calls him a "darky."

I'm pretty sure that the talent show is not present in the original text. I just remembered that the revised text ends with Nancy tapping out a message asking for another mystery. Of course, someone in the audience stands up and tells her about Brass-Bound Trunk. And that is not how she finds her next mystery, although using that scene was a creative way to introduce the next book in the series.

Lenora said...

I remember thinking that the revised text was really creepy and scary as a kid--the whole idea of an escaped mental patient hiding out in the same house where you're sleeping. I've only read the original once, when I first bought it, but it didn't stick with me the same way. I suspect that I'd feel differently about both of them if I read them back to back as an adult.

Miranda James said...

I've been enjoying your comments and analyses of the books. Tapping Heels is one of my least favorite books in the series; the stories in both versions are pretty odd.

Judy said...

This is odd. I don't recall a talent show OR the ending with Nancy tapping a message. My version of the book ends with the girls talking at the intermission of the play. Could there be more than one revision of this book? Hmmmm....

Kansas Mad Man said...

This book is strange in either telling. The original has the odd cat lady. . . and the young man with Intellectual Disabilities, Gussie. An operation fixes this. As the CEO of a provider of I/D services, I can tell you this DOESN'T HAPPEN. He could have had other disorders like pressure on the brain, but really?

The boating accident is weird. And I wish Nappi had been permitted to do a totally new picture for the 1962 cover art. Although the original is incorrect in that all three girls appear outside a clapboard house, the revision is boring. "La-la-la-la---OH! someone has a ladder up to my large brick home!"

Kansas Mad Man said...

This book is strange in either telling. The original has the odd cat lady. . . and the young man with Intellectual Disabilities, Gussie. An operation fixes this. As the CEO of a provider of I/D services, I can tell you this DOESN'T HAPPEN. He could have had other disorders like pressure on the brain, but really?

The boating accident is weird. And I wish Nappi had been permitted to do a totally new picture for the 1962 cover art. Although the original is incorrect in that all three girls appear outside a clapboard house, the revision is boring. "La-la-la-la---OH! someone has a ladder up to my large brick home!"