Monday, July 30, 2012

Dana Girls Breeder Set Dust Jackets

The Dana Girls series made its debut on January 17, 1934 with the publication of the first three titles, By the Light of the Study Lamp, The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage, and In the Shadow of the Tower.

During the first four years of the series run, 1934 through 1937, the books were printed with lavender and green dust jackets.  The dust jackets are difficult to acquire, and as such, most collectors have not seen enough of them to have any idea what the exact first printing points are for each title.  A Dana Girls guide was written by one collector more than 10 years ago, but that collector lost interest before the guide was published.  As a result, we are completely on our own when attempting to figure out which books and jackets are first printings.

Generally, a dust jacket that has a list of titles ending with the title of the book itself is a likely first printing.  However, during the 1930s, some first printing dust jackets had lists ending with the previous title in the series.  We know this to be true for Nancy Drew, so it could also possibly be true for the Dana Girls.

My goal when purchasing the lavender and green dust jackets more than 10 years ago was to try to get jackets that were not faded but to also try to get early or first printings.  At the time that I was building my set, the lavender and green dust jackets were routinely selling for $250 to $500 each.  I settled for slightly flawed jackets that were not first printings for the majority of them.  The Dana Girls series was not important enough for me to want to spend hundreds of dollars for a dust jacket, especially since I had no idea which jackets were the first printing jackets.

I always assumed that the first printing jackets for the first three books list the first three titles in the series ending with In the Shadow of the Tower.  At that time, I thought that a Dana Girls dust jacket for any of #1-3 listing just the first three titles on the front flap was guaranteed to be the first printing dust jacket.  I managed to acquire one of them.  I then focused on other series and forgot about upgrading my Dana Girls books and seeking first printings.

Earlier this year I was asked about the first printing dust jackets for the first three titles.  I was asked whether all three dust jackets exist with three titles listed on the front flap and with the ads on the reverse side of the jacket.  Honestly, I did not know, since I had never given it any thought.  This person had bought one of the first three titles with a jacket listing to In the Shadow of the Tower, but the jacket did not have the reverse ads.

I checked my books and found my copy of The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage which has a jacket that lists to the third title and has the reverse ads.  I did not have the other two, but since I knew that all three books were published simultaneously, I concluded that all three must have been issued with dust jackets that list the first three titles and have the reverse ads. It would not be logical for one jacket to have the reverse ads and the other two not to have the ads if all three books were originally published at the same time.

Below is an example of a recent eBay auction for a copy of In the Shadow of the Tower with a jacket listing three titles.


The jacket does not have the reverse ads.  If it did, then the front flap would have green text along the right edge which states "LOOK ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF THIS JACKET."  The back flap would have green text along the right edge which states "PRESERVE THIS WRAPPER FOR FUTURE REFERENCE." Clearly, the above jacket does not have the reverse ads and is therefore not the first printing dust jacket.

The end result of all of this is that it made me curious enough to see if I could find the other two jackets with the reverse ads.  Finally, they showed up on eBay. Although the condition was not good at all, I purchased them for the sake of having proof that they exist.

Here are photographs of all three jackets with the reverse ads. Note that all three jackets have the green text on both flaps, list three titles on the front flap, and have the ads on the reverse side.  Remember that you can click on a photo to see a larger version.





 


Now I have all three jackets with the reverse ads.  My next thought was whether I could safely conclude that only one printing exists with the reverse ads.  To put it another way, are these jackets guaranteed to be the first printing jackets for the first three titles?

I checked Farah's Guide to see where the cutoff is for dust jackets that have the reverse ads.  No Nancy Drew books printed past 1933 have the reverse ads.  The last Nancy Drew to be printed with a reverse ads jacket was The Password to Larkspur Lane, which went through two 1933 printings with the ads and one 1933 printing without the ads.

Interesting...  The first three Dana Girls books are copyright 1934, which makes it rather strange that the jackets even have the reverse ads.  Sometimes series other than Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys went through format changes at slightly different times, which makes it not so strange.  My next task was to look up the actual date for which the copyright was issued for the first three Dana Girls books.  This information is available online for all of the books by searching The Catalog of Copyright Entries.

I discovered that the first three Dana Girls books were published on January 17, 1934, which places them at the very beginning of 1934.  This makes it likely that the books and jackets were printed at the very end of 1933, making the existence of the reverse ads not to be so strange.  While I cannot be certain, I feel that I can conclude that no more than one printing of each jacket exists with the reverse ads.

Even if two printings exist with the reverse ads, both printings would have to list Nancy Drew to The Password to Larkspur Lane.  The next Nancy Drew title, The Clue of the Broken Locket, was not published until August 8, 1934.  It is highly unlikely that another Dana Girls reverse ads jacket would have been printed that late in 1934.  In fact, notice that the photo I provided of a jacket that does not have the reverse ads lists Nancy Drew to The Clue of the Broken Locket.  Therefore, I feel that all reverse ads Dana Girls jackets are likely identical and list Nancy Drew to The Password to Larkspur Lane.

The next question is whether the books are the first printing books.  This could go either way.  Often, department stores would take jackets off of books and store them until the books were purchased.  This means that jackets did not always get placed back on the correct books.  Since we have no Dana Girls guide, it's anybody's guess what the first printing book points are.

Here are the post-text ads for the books that came with my first printing dust jackets.

Post-text ads for By the Light of the Study Lamp:  "This Isn't All!" with a line drawn around it in the shape of a box followed by Nancy Drew to Mysterious Letter and Judy Bolton to Seven Strange Clues

Post-text ads for The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage:  none

Post-text ads for In the Shadow of the Tower:  "This Isn't All!" with a line drawn around it in the shape of a box with no other post-text ads

I have no idea whether I have the first printing books, but I do have the first printing dust jackets.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dana Girls Blue/Red Jacket Variants

During the original run of the Dana Girls series from 1934 to 1944, the books were first issued with lavender and green dust jackets and later with blue and red dust jackets.  The lavender and green dust jackets were used from 1934 to 1937.  The blue and red dust jackets were used from 1938 to 1944.

I recently bought some Dana Girls books with the blue and red dust jackets.  I was checking some of them up against jackets that I already had when I realized that two variations exist for certain titles.


I knew that at least #1-6 have lettering with red around the edges.  I knew that #7-13 have lettering with white around the edges.  What I did not realize is that at least some of the early titles also exist with white around the edges of the letters.


The dust jackets for #1-6 with red around the edges of the letters come on thick purple books.  For these same titles, the dust jackets with white around the edges of the letters come on the thin blue books. 

I have #7-12 in thick purple books with dust jackets that have white around the edges of the letters.  Since I have those titles in thick purple books, I assume that none of them were ever issued with dust jackets that have red around the letters.  #13 was only issued in a blue book with a dust jacket with white around the letters.

I have #1 and #3 in both versions, but I assume that #1-6 exist in both versions.  This is where the rest of you can help.  I have all of the first six in dust jackets with red around the edges of the letters.  Do you have #2, 4, 5, or 6 in dust jackets with white around the edges of the letters?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nancy Drew #26 and the Transition Books

In Nancy Drew #26, The Clue of the Leaning Chimney, Nancy Drew nearly runs over a man who is kneeling in the middle of a lonely country road. She notices that the man has a Chinese vase just as he orders her away. After the girls drive off, Bess remarks that the vase looks just like a rare vase on display in Dick Milton's shop.

Nancy and Bess learn that the vase from Dick's shop has been stolen. The vase belongs to Mr. Soong, who loaned it to Dick, and is very valuable. Dick cannot afford to repay Mr. Soong unless he finds a valuable clay deposit. Dick recently overheard a man remark that a clay deposit can be found near a leaning chimney, but Dick has had no luck locating it.

After Nancy meets Mr. Soong, he asks her to help find his missing friends, the Engs. The Engs were coming to River Heights to visit him but never arrived. He believes that they reached a location near River Heights but vanished before their arrival.

This mystery is well written and does not have any random coincidences, unlike so many other Nancy Drew books. Parts of the mystery that could be coincidences occur as a result of cause and effect. I can find absolutely nothing wrong with this story, which means that I have far fewer thoughts than usual.

I did notice that George uses "hypers" in both texts, and in fact, a bit excessively. I think this is the first time that George uses that word, which she continues for the remainder of the original 56 Nancy Drew books.

I consider both the original and the revised text to be equally good.  The original text has slightly more information, but in my opinion, it makes no difference.  My verdict is that both texts are equally good.

As I have been reading these books, I have noticed that the tone of the mysteries began changing with #23, The Mystery of the Tolling Bell. I see #23 through #26 as transition volumes. Most of the first 22 Nancy Drew books were written by Mildred Wirt Benson and followed the same type of formula as the earliest books. Even though Benson also wrote #23, 24, and 25, the tone changes in these books. #26 is not written by Benson, and George suddenly acquires a pet expression which she uses for the remainder of the series.

Nancy is also becoming more refined during these books and less likely to make snippy responses to others. She is morphing into the "perfect" Nancy Drew that is representative of the latter half of the original 56 books.

After I realized that I was seeing a transition in the texts, I recalled that the dust jackets for these same books are referred to as "transition dust jackets." Grosset and Dunlap changed the jacket style from the white spine version, which was used for #1-22, to the wraparound style, beginning with #23. #23 is the last book with a blue spine symbol, except the jacket is not white spine. #24, 25, and 26 have yellow spine symbols in the same style as #23. #27 has the final version of the Nancy Drew cameo that was used until the middle part of the 1980s. New collectors are often confused by volumes 23-26, thinking that the different spine symbols determine the age, whereas all that it really means is that Grosset and Dunlap's style was changing as those books were first published. Go to this page to see the transition.

I find it curious that I noticed a transition in the texts as the dust jackets were also transitioning. I was not influenced by the jackets while I was reading the books, because I was reading these library editions, which all have the same style.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

June Sales on Bonanza


In June, not only did I have fewer transactions, but most transactions were for only one to three books.

This is how many books I sold by series.

Nancy Drew - 16
Dana Girls - 13
Hardy Boys - 9
Beverly Gray - 2
Judy Bolton - 2
Connie Blair - 1
Tom Swift - 1
Trixie Belden - 1
Vicki Barr - 1

This is what sold by dollar amount.

up to $4.99 - 14
$5-$9.99 - 18
$10-$14.99 - 8
$15-$19.99 - 1
$20-$24.99 - 2
$25-$29.99 - 1
$49.99 -1
$134.95 - 1

This is how many transactions I had by payment processor.

PayPal - 8
Amazon - 11
Google - 2

I don't have any particular observations to make but hopefully this data is of at least some interest.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Condition Disclosures

In a message forum, someone asked about what condition issues should be disclosed when a book is offered for sale.  The most popular response was "all of them."  More specifically, what most important?  As I answer this, I think about what is important to me.

Musty odor is a significant flaw and must be disclosed. As a book buyer, I cannot stand books that smell musty. Exposing the book to fresh air sometimes helps, but generally, musty odor does not go away.  I have bought books for my collection and had to immediately seek an upgrade due to a musty odor.

Cigarette odor should also be mentioned, although it is less of a problem. I find that cigarette odor tends to go away on its own after several months. While I dislike receiving books with undisclosed cigarette odor, I know that time will usually care of it.

Sellers sometimes try to be helpful by using a fragrance to cover the odor.  This is a bad idea. What will happen is that the book will still have the original odor and will also have an additional perfumed smell. Book buyers do not want their books to smell like Febreze, perfume, or dryer sheets.

If there is any kind of writing inside the book, it must be disclosed. Even a name written inside is important. I do not care if my books have a name inside, but I once had a buyer go off on me because I accidentally did not mention a name written inside. So, I always check for a name or inscription and mention it.  Sometimes, I do miss an inscription or signature, so buyers who need books with no writing should also make certain that the seller has not overlooked an inscription.

As a book buyer, I do mind if the name is written huge and in crayon, so as a seller, I make sure that I mention when a name is written rather large and in crayon. I also mention if a name is written in permanent marker that has bled through the page, since that is far worse than a neat penciled name.

If pages are ripped or creased, that needs to be mentioned. If pages are missing, that should be mentioned.  Missing pages usually make a book worthless, so those books should not be sold.

A flaw that is almost never mentioned by sellers is the problem of blurred images on dust jackets and book covers.  The blurring is caused by a printing flaw and can be easily missed.  Since sellers tend to avoid mentioning this flaw even when the blurring is obvious, buyers must always be on the lookout for blurring of the cover art.  I have seen sellers receive negative feedback from buyers for failure to disclose this flaw.  Nobody wants a collectible book with blurred cover art.

Most important, have a photograph of the actual book for sale that is in focus so that we can see the book. For collectible books such as the ones I buy and sell, the buyer needs to see the front cover and spine. We do care what our collectible books look like on the shelf. The spines are as important as the front covers, and in some cases, the spines are more important.

Stock photos are a big problem. I have sometimes found my own photos used in eBay auctions.  I have also found images from my website used in eBay auctions.  I recall a seller taking an image of one of the hardcover Goldencraft Trixie Belden books and using it as a stock photo for a softcover edition.  A buyer desiring the hardcover will be quite upset when a softcover book arrives.  I have also seen sellers lift a photo of a Nancy Drew book from the 1930s and use for a book from the 1960s that is up for sale, and the two books have hugely different values. Never use stock photos for collectible books.

A statement of overall condition is good, but make sure that a good photo of the book is present so that buyers can make a final determination.

What is most important to you when buying books?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book Finds + Nancy Drew Blackwood Hall First Revised Text

These books were purchased in the last week in several different places.



Mystery of the Tolling Bell is the first printing of the revised text from 1973.   

The Thirteenth Pearl is the second printing with Triple Hoax in italics.  Thirteenth Pearl is always in demand and a good seller, but I am able to find at least one or two copies locally per year.  The book is out there waiting to be found.  



The most significant find was The Ghost of Blackwood Hall.  I initially selected it because I find that the original text and cover art is always in demand.  I have trouble keeping it in stock on Bonanza.  The book was priced at $2.49, and then I reconsidered since the book has some wear and tear.  It had a green star on the bottom spine which was covered with clear tape.  I inspected the book to see whether I should put it back, which was when I noticed the black and white multi I endpapers.


Now that wasn't right.

The book normally has blue multi endpapers.  I checked the copyright page, determining that the book has the 1967 text.  I then realized that I had just found the first printing of the revised text, which pairs the 1967 text with the original Tandy cover art.  I also was pretty sure that this was one of the first revised text printings that I did not already have, although I would not know for sure until arriving home.  After I arrived home, I verified that I did not already have this printing.  Yay!

Since I was keeping the book, I used lighter fluid to loosen the adhesive on the tape at the bottom spine.  I was able to remove the green star and tape as well as the price sticker of $2.49 from the front cover.  The main flaw that this book has is the black marker used to write a name inside the book.  Otherwise, the book is in pretty good shape.  Sure, I wouldn't mind one with less wear and without the black marker, but I am quite satisfied with the condition of this book.

This is one of those printings which is more likely a variant.  The bindery probably ran out of original texts before running out of the Tandy cover art.  This means that the remaining Tandy covers were used for the new 1967 revised text.*

I am not sure of the exact scarcity of the first revised text printing, but it seems to be harder to find than the "man with pipe" Broken Locket cover art that is paired with the 1965 text.  I welcome any thoughts you have on the scarcity of Blackwood Hall with the Tandy art and 1967 text.  I have never tried hard to find this variant, but at the same time, I know I would have spotted it if it had passed through my hands.  I have had quite a few extras of the Tandy cover art, and this is the first one that I have spotted with the revised text.

How many of you have managed to find a Blackwood Hall book with the Tandy art and 1967 text?
Respond here or on Facebook at the recent post about this book.

.........................................................

*Upon examining Farah's Guide, I found that it renders my statement about the bindery running out of Tandy cover art to be false.  Farah's Guide seems to show two printings of the Tandy art with the 1967 text.  However, if that is what Farah means, the printings listed in the guide do not quite make sense.

1967A-31
1/3/ND#1-42
syn/pf/tp/cp/tc/bl//none
note: introduction of the 1967 text
 
1967B-32
2/3/ND#1-44
syn/pf/tp/cp/tc/bl//none

1967B-33
2/3/ND#1-44
syn/pf/tp/cp/tc/bl//none
note: introduction of the second cover art

I have highlighted the parts that bother me.  I don't even know where in Farah's Guide that the print designation for the picture cover books is explained.  The print designation is explained for the dust jackets, but the picture covers are not listed in the same fashion.  By comparing volume to volume, I can conclude that "1" must mean first cover art and that "2" must mean second cover art.  Some books have a "3" for the third cover art, and the number changes in Farah's Guide when the cover art changes.  At least, the number changes for volumes other than Blackwood Hall.  Here, the number does not change at the right time.

Since 1967A-31 has the first art, then 1967B-32 must also have the first art.  This is because 1967B-33 is the introduction of the second art.  Except, the 1967B-32 listing has a "2" which means second art.  Does the 1967B-32 printing exist, or is it listed in error?  If the listing is not in error, then the "2" needs to change to a "1,"  and my statement about leftover Tandy covers is false.  If the entire 1967B-32 printing is an error, then my statement about leftover Tandy covers being used is valid.

I also notice that both 1967B-32 and 1967B-33 are a "B" printing.  The letters denote which time of year the printing occurred, but normally when a year has multiple printings listed, Farah's Guide does not use the same letter for more than one of them.  This is another indication that the 1967B-32 printing might be an error.  If the 1967B-32 printing is not an error, then the 1967B-33 printing should be denoted as 1967C-33.

Does anybody have a Blackwood Hall book with the Tandy art and the revised text that actually lists to Crossword Cipher on the back cover instead of to Pine Hill?

.........................................................

Here is a scan of the frontispieces for the 1967A-31 (left) and 1967B-33 (right) books.  Click on the image to see a larger version.  Please read the comments for an explanation.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Separating a Book and Jacket

I bought some Dana Girls books with the blue and red dust jackets.  The jacket for The Portrait in the Sand was stuck to the book as a result of major water damage.


I decided that I wanted to remove the jacket from the book.  The only way to do this was to use steam.  Normally, I would never use steam on a book or jacket, but in the case of severe water damage, a little moisture hurts nothing. 

I placed water in a pan on the stove and brought it to boiling.



I started with the back flap. The part that was stuck was the top couple of inches. I held the jacket over the steam, then used a knife underneath from the bottom part of the flap to gradually pull the flap free.

 Next, I went to the back panel. I began with the top edge near the back flap.



I got the left top of the back panel free, but the next part was stuck really good. I paused and tried the front flap. The front flap was stuck good.

I went back to the back panel. I held the book over the steam and tried with the knife from the underneath. I could tell that the jacket was going to rip no matter what I did. I noticed that the jacket looked like someone had already tried to pull it free near the top of the back panel, so this meant that I was going to lose some of the jacket no matter what.

I then held the book over the steam some more and managed to free most of the back panel.


I then got the idea to try from the top edge of the back panel, which is the reverse of what logic would tell me to do.  Success! I freed the back panel.



Next was the front panel, which I thought would be really hard. Without using any steam, I pulled the entire front panel free.


Now I was down to the front flap, which I planned to pull free by pulling from the front panel.  I steamed the front flap and pulled some of it free. Working at it, I was finally down to a 2 inch by 1/2 inch area near the lower right edge. This part was stuck as bad as the top part of the back panel. I worked at this area for around five minutes, and finally, I pulled it free.


Yay! 

I'm sure some of you are looking at the photos of the dust jacket and book and are thinking, "Why bother?  The book and jacket are trashed."  First and foremost, I wanted the dust jacket in a mylar cover, which was going to improve the appeal of the book and jacket.  That was not possible with the jacket stuck to the book.  Second, with the dust jacket removed from the book, the possibility of getting another better condition book for the dust jacket now exists.

If I am able to find a better book in the very near future, I will make the substitution.  If not, then I will be selling the book and jacket together.  Even though the condition is bad, a number of collectors would not mind purchasing it.  These early jackets are scarce and difficult to find.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nancy Drew First Format Lilac Inn Prices

I have written of my frustration with sellers pricing early printings of the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery at Lilac Inn, at huge prices because they have misunderstood my post, "Scarcity of Nancy Drew Lilac Inn First Printing."  That post was written for the advanced Nancy Drew collector, but people who have little knowledge of series books have decided that all early Lilac Inn books must be worth $500 to $1,000.  Compounding the problem is the extreme popularity of that post, which is the fifth most viewed post in this blog.  This blog now has around 900 posts, so a post which is fifth out of 900 is quite popular indeed.  I have gone back and edited that post and other related ones in hopes of reaching the people who continue to use it to list their books at extreme prices. 

A blank endpapers Lilac Inn matches the first format, 1930-1932, that is listed on my Nancy Drew Formats Page.  Sellers figure out that their book looks like that, read the blog post to which I linked above, completely miss the point about the post-text ads, and decide that their books are priceless.

To refute the belief of some sellers that all first format Lilac Inns are valuable, I decided that I should post screen caps of recent auctions for blank endpapers editions of Lilac Inn.   Since these were auctions, people had the opportunity to bid as high as they wished.  While eBay auctions frequently close below value these days, we can confidently conclude that auctions which consistently close at well under $100 are for books that are not worth $500 to $1,000.

Remember that you can click on any image to see a larger version, which is highly recommended since the images are too small for most people to read.


The above book closed at $36.00.  By the information given by the seller, the book was definitely not the first printing.  The book was in rough shape, and the auction closed at about the book's value.


This book was in nice shape and closed at $73.22.  The seller did not give any information to indicate the printing, but this particular seller would have stated if the book were the first printing.  Therefore, we know that the book was not the first printing.  It probably closed at least a little below value but was not worth more than $100 to $125.

This book closed at $57.10.  It was not the first printing.  It also may have closed a little below value but would not be worth more than $75 or so

My hope is that some of the people who are pricing the blank endpapers editions of Lilac Inn at huge prices will read this post and realize that the books are not all worth $500 to $1,000.  In fact, close to 100% of the copies that surface are not the first printing.  The only printing of Lilac Inn that is of high value is the one described in past blog posts.

Please refer to this blog post to see photographs of the correct post text ads for the actual first printing book.  Remember, the book must have the same ads in the same order with the identical last title listed in each ad in order to be the extremely scarce first printing.  If you find a book with the same ads in a different order, then you do not have the first printing, making your book worth about the same amount as the three books pictured here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Nancy Drew #25 The Ghost of Blackwood Hall

In Nancy Drew #25, The Ghost of Blackwood Hall, Nancy is asked to discover what happened to Mrs. Putney's jewels. It turns out that Mrs. Putney is highly superstitious and that her late husband's spirit has been visiting her. Her husband's spirit told her to bury her jewels in a field. When Mrs. Putney retrieved them, she learned that fakes had been substituted for the real jewels. Nancy also learns that a number of local girls have been visited by spirits or have attended séances.

As I began reading this book, I was annoyed by how stupid much of the plot is. Nancy is called on the case because Mrs. Putney has been warned to tell no man or woman about her problem. Since Nancy is a girl, she can be told. This kind of nonsense sets the tone for the entire book.

Not helping is the fact that various plot elements remind me of other Nancy Drew books. Mrs. Putney's superstitious nature makes me think of Miss Allison in Ivory Charm. The fake jewel substitution is much like the substitution that occurs in Lilac Inn. The girls leaving money in a tree reminds me of the Lonely Hearts club in Mysterious Letter in which women send money through the mail. The stock swindle is like the stock swindle in Tolling Bell. These similarities kept jarring me out of the story and were part of the reason I did not enjoy much of this book.

The villains tell the victims to leave money in a tree in the middle of the woods. The villains then hide in another tree and use a collapsible rod to extract the money that was left in the tree. How seriously stupid is that? Wouldn't it have been easier just to have the victims mail the money to a post office box?

Later in the book on page 101 of the revised text, "Of one thing she was fairly certain. The old tree in the woods was no longer being used as a post office. Instead, the racketeers were instructing their clients to use the regular mails." Well, duh. Why didn't they do that in the first place?

Not only that, but the scene with the rod is stupid. On page 44 of the revised text, "George was astonished to see a strange sight. Though no wind was blowing, a leafless branch of the tree behind the walnut seemed to bend slowly downward." I am picturing a limb being used to retrieve the money. No, it is a collapsible rod. Would that really look like a limb? It seems to me that George would see a rod. Oh well, what do I know?

Nancy and Ned head through the woods to investigate Blackwood Hall and encounter... quicksand! They nearly die. The quicksand is so random and stupid. After the quicksand, I actually enjoyed the rest of the story since from that point on, the text did not jump around so much from event to event.

At one point in the story, Nancy and Ned work to help Sadie Green, who is one of the gullible young ladies. Nancy and Ned conduct a fake séance to force Sadie back into her senses. They tell Sadie to trust nobody unless that person writes or speaks his name backwards.
"Should Mrs. Egan approach you again, saying 'I am Mrs. Egan,' then beware! But should she say 'I am Mrs. Nage,' then you will know that she is to be trusted, even as you trust the spirit of Elias Perkins."
Nancy has Ned phone Sadie to see if Sadie is following instructions. Ned says, "This is Drawoh speaking." He has to prompt Sadie into remembering the backwards name thing. Sadie thinks and says that she does not know him. I can think of at least three different ways "Drawoh" might be pronounced, and in each of them, the "h" is silent. How would Sadie figure out the original name just by sound? I am not convinced that this would work as well as the text presents it.

Some of the illustrations in the revised text are a bit off. The illustration on page 79 shows the scene in which Nancy pulls Ned out of the quicksand. After Ned has been freed, the text states that the two young people are "[c]overed with mud and shaken by their unfortunate experience" and that "their one desire was to get into clean clothes." Then why does Nancy look so clean in the illustration? From the text, I get the impression that she is covered with mud up to her chest. Hmm.

The illustration on page 120 shows George throwing a rock. My problem is that George looks an awful lot like a boy. Not only that, but her head seems rather large.

One little oddity that caught my eye appears in both texts. On page 8 of the original text, Nancy finds a scrap of paper in the woods. The paper has an advertisement stating "Beautiful lights, $10.00" on one side and "No assistants" on the other side. Nancy slips the paper in her purse not sure that it means anything. I do not believe that the paper is ever mentioned again, so it must not have meant anything. What is odd is that these books usually never mention something unless it is important.

The scene that begins on page 125 of the revised text is more confusing than in the original text. Bess, George, and Hannah find Nancy knocked unconscious in the woods. She awakens and is asked what happened. Nancy replies, "I don't know what happened." Immediately after Nancy's remark appears the following text.
On the ground near the spot where the cabin road crossed another dirt road, she had found the familiar Three Branch insigne.

This time, a tiny arrow had been added. Without stopping to summon George, Nancy had hurried along the trail until she came upon another arrow.
And this passage continues for an entire page until the text resumes with the conversation between Nancy and the others. I think it would have helped to have prefaced this passage with something like "Nancy told the others that" and then related the events. But then, Nancy had just stated that she did not remember what happened, which makes the passage about what happened make no sense whatsoever.

Of significance, in the original text, the passage relating what happened to Nancy appears in the proper position before Nancy is knocked out and four pages before the others find her. The placement of this passage in the revised text after Nancy is found by the others creates some momentary confusion until the reader realizes what the passage means.

Since I personally found the superstitious behavior of Mrs. Putney and the young women to be annoying, I did not enjoy the first half of either text at all. As already stated, I enjoyed the story much more once I read past the quicksand scene. The second half of the book reads better than the first half. This is equally true for both texts.

The revised text is nearly equally as good as the original text. Since the original text contains slightly more information, I consider it to be a slightly better story. However, I did not greatly enjoy either text.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Secret of Saturday Cove

I enjoyed Mystery of the Witches' Bridge so much that I immediately purchased The Secret of Saturday Cove, which is another book written by Barbee Oliver Carleton. The Secret of Saturday Cove was originally published in 1961 by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. I have a Weekly Reader Children's Book Club Edition that was probably published during the 1970s or 1980s. The Weekly Reader edition is the only version that is readily available.

In this story, David and Sally Blake are descended from the original Blakes of Saturday Cove. The original Blakes lived on Blake's Island back in the Revolutionary War years. During the war, young Jonathan Blake hid the Blake's valuables on one of the nearby islands so that the British would not steal them. The original Blakes were never able to recover the treasure, so the story goes.

David and Sally hope to be able to find the treasure, but most of the original Blake land has now been sold. Making the problem worse, David and Sally's parents plan to sell Blake's Island, which is where the original homestead rests. David convinces his parents to keep the land and let him pay the taxes on the land by selling the lobster that he hauls each day. Soon, though, the other men accuse David of hauling their traps when their lobster disappears, and David may lose his chance to make money.

This book has an "About the Author" section. From that section:
Barbee Oliver Carleton was born in Thomaston, Maine, "of a Ship's Log and a Latin Grammar," she writes, "the ancestral stock being sea captains, teachers, and island builders of ships."

At the age of ten she wrote a book of children's verse, which far from making her rich and famous merely cost her mother postage to and from publishers. At Wellesley College she majored in English, became a member of the newspaper staff, and contributed to college publications. She was a recipient of the Masefield Prize for Poetry.

After graduation she became a high-school English teacher in Caribou, Maine. For a time she held an editorial post with Houston Mifflin Company, but this ended with her marriage to an aeronautical engineer from Maine.

Now she lives north of Boston with her husband and two children, and spends her summers in a Maine fishing village. She is the author of The Wonderful Cat of Cobbie Bean, Benny and the Bear, and over eighty stories which have appeared in Highlights for Children, Child Life, and Jack and Jill.
Unfortunately, Carleton's books, aside from Mystery of the Witches' Bridge and The Secret of Saturday Cove, are almost impossible to find. Some of the stories from magazines would not be that difficult to find, aside from figuring out which issues contain her stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed both Carleton books.