Sunday, March 31, 2013

Nancy Drew #40 The Moonstone Castle Mystery

In Nancy Drew #40, The Moonstone Castle Mystery, Nancy receives a moonstone in the mail.  The package contains a note informing Nancy that the moonstone is for good luck and that she will need it in the next few weeks.  Meanwhile, Mr. Drew enlists Nancy's help in solving the mystery of what happened to Joanie Horton.  Joanie's grandparents last saw her 15 years ago when they left for Africa as missionaries.  The Bowens were abducted in Africa and only recently released.  They returned to find that Joanie had disappeared soon after they left for Africa.

Nancy, Bess, and George travel to Deep River to investigate what happened to Joanie Horton.  Ned, Burt, and Dave join them later.

Not too long after the girls arrive in Deep River, they learn about a young woman named Jody.  When Nancy finds out that Jody was adopted, she suspects that Jody might be the missing Joanie Horton.  Anyone who lives near Deep River who was adopted has to be Joanie Horton.  After all, nobody else anywhere near Deep River has ever been adopted.

On page 82, Nancy sees a photo of Jody, who is described as having dark hair.  On page 99, Joanie is described as having blond curls.  Since the assumption is that Jody and Joanie are the same person, I was confused about the change in hair color.

The girls also investigate Moonstone Castle, which is conveniently part of the mystery.  How neat that every place Nancy goes and every person she meets is part of her mystery!

During one of the girls' visits to the Moonstone Castle, they anchor down the drawbridge so that no one from inside the castle can raise the drawbridge.  They use rocks and wire.  The girls are quite proud of themselves since they have anchored the drawbridge so that no one can raise it from inside the castle.  Exactly what would stop someone from leaving the castle, removing the wire, and then raising the drawbridge?  The girls act like whoever is in the castle will not ever come outside.

The criminals in this story are extremely dumb.  They swindled Joanie out of her inheritance 15 years ago, and now, 15 years later, they are still in the same area swindling people out of their inheritances.  It seems that the criminals should have moved their operations to another part of the country.  If they had, Nancy would not have caught them!

Page 89 has an illustration that is captioned " 'So you found me out!' Nancy exclaimed."  In the illustration, Nancy has a smile on her face.  The illustration depicts a scene from pages 86 and 87.
In her high-pitched voice, she asked, "Well, how are you, Nancy Drew, detective?"

When confronted with a startling statement, Nancy usually was able to hide her surprise.  This time she did not succeed—Mrs. Hemstead's greeting was too astounding.

"So you've found me out, "she said, after a moment.  "Who told you?"
Nancy doesn't sound like she is smiling at that moment; she seems taken aback and at a loss for words, so the caption does not fit.  The following passage from page 88 would have worked out much better.
Smiling, she said, "I just learned something amazing that happened in your town this morning."

Instantly the old lady leaned forward expectantly.  "What was it?" she asked eagerly.

The young sleuth laughed.  "Oh, I can keep secrets, too."
That last statement should have been the caption.

The Moonstone Castle Mystery is an enjoyable read that is an above average mystery for these later books.  While the mystery consists of a bunch of coincidences, it is still quite engaging.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nancy Drew #39 Clue of the Dancing Puppet

In Nancy Drew #39, The Clue of the Dancing Puppet, Bess has taken on an acting job with the Footlighters, an amateur group that performs at the Van Pelt estate.  Coincidentally, Mr. Drew is asked by Hamilton Spencer, who runs the Footlighters, to investigate a life-sized dancing puppet that appears on the lawn at night.  Since Bess already is a member of the Footlighters, it is decided that Nancy and George should join as well.  All three girls move into the Van Pelt mansion so that they can investigate.

Immediately after the girls' arrival, Nancy investigates the attic and is hit on the head with a cannonball.  The girls later conclude that the cannonball was removed from a chest in the barn's loft.  Consider that Nancy is struck by the cannonball very shortly after her arrival at the estate.  So apparently, someone went to the barn the moment Nancy arrived, climbed to the loft and grabbed a cannonball, climbed back down, went up to the attic, threw the cannonball at Nancy's head, and ran off.  Interesting.

Like with the flower pot in The Mystery of the Fire Dragon, Nancy could have easily been killed by being struck on the head with a cannonball.  In fact, she probably would have been killed.  Of course, Nancy is fine.

On page 142, Nancy and some detectives knock on a door as they search for information.  Nobody answers.  Nancy makes a wild guess that probably the criminals use a password and that if they can give the correct password, the door will be opened.  Nancy suggests the name of a restaurant, Green Acres.  Amazingly, Nancy is right.  How random!

The Clue of the Dancing Puppet is not so contrived as some of the other Nancy Drew books from this era, which makes for an above average mystery for this group of books.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Books for Sale and Other Stuff

I just listed a bunch of Nancy Drew picture cover editions on eBay.  These listings serve two purposes.  I need to maintain my top-rated seller status, and these are books for which I have more extras than other titles.  The prices are lower than my Bonanza prices, partly to move the books and partly due to condition issues.

During the last week, I listed a large number of books in my Jennifer's Series Books booth on Bonanza.

Tomorrow commences the final two months of the school year, and this is the stretch that is the most emotionally exhausting.  For that reason, I will most likely not be listing very many books for sale in the next two months.

I will continue to maintain this blog, but expect the blog to be on a strict every-four-days posting schedule for most of the next two months.  I strive to publish quality content on a regular basis, but when I am busy and exhausted, I can do no more than one to two good posts per week.  Good blog posts take a minimum of one hour and can take several hours to create.

I will also maintain my Facebook page, and the good news is that Facebook requires much less effort.  I do post more often on Facebook than here, although not always every day.  Furthermore, I do post information on Facebook that may never get mentioned here.

Since this post consists of miscellaneous content, I figure that now is a good time to remind all of you that my name is Jennifer White.  A good many of you apparently believe that my name is Jennifer Fisher, but she is a different person.  Allow me to explain.

Jennifer Fisher is President of the Nancy Drew Sleuths organization and discussion group, and she created the Nancy Drew Sleuth Unofficial Website.  Jennifer Fisher also has a blog, Nancy Drew Sleuth.  Jennifer Fisher sells official Nancy Drew merchandise through her Cafe Press shop and at her website in her Sleuth Shop.  Jennifer Fisher's Sleuth Shop also has vintage books for sale.  Jennifer Fisher publishes The Sleuth, which is an awesome periodical to which you should consider subscribing.

I, Jennifer White, maintain this blog, Series Books for Girls.  I have a website, Vintage Series Books for Girls.  I have another blog, Jennifer's Series Books.  I sell my books on Bonanza at Jennifer's Series Books.

I can understand why the shared first name is confusing, but you can tell us apart by noticing that I do not use the Nancy Drew Sleuths logo.  I sign my name as Jennifer.  Jennifer Fisher uses the Nancy Drew Sleuths logo and signs her name as Jenn.

Two different people, both named Jennifer, who like Nancy Drew.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Nancy Drew Wanderer Hardcover Book Find Part 2

I wrote about my purchase of four Nancy Drew hardcover Wanderer editions with dust jackets on eBay.  This post is a continuation of that topic.

As I mentioned, collectors would prefer to have first printing books with white paper that are not library discards and are in excellent condition.  Since the first printing Wanderer books tend not to have white paper, collectors must make a decision about what is most important.  The preference for books that are not library discards outweighs all other considerations.

I had originally intended to swap the jackets on #75 The Emerald-Eyed Cat Mystery, keeping my jacket with the new book, since my book is a library discard.  I realized that my jacket is slightly faded, while the new jacket with the hard crease at the top is not faded at all.  Uh-oh.

I first ironed the new jacket on very low heat.  I only iron jackets in special situations like this one, and the process is always stressful, since much could go wrong very easily. I place paper on either side of the jacket and only have the iron on a small area and just briefly.  I did get the jacket to lay somewhat more flat, even though the crease will remain.

I took the book and placed it in my book press in the following fashion in order to force the outer spine to lay more flat.


I left it for over a week.  I did improve the upper spine, although it is still not even.  My old jacket has lots of surface impact marks.  Someone must have taken a pen to the mylar-enclosed jacket and scribbled over the front cover many times, since the jacket shows all of those indentations.  That made me decide to keep the new creased jacket along with the bumped book.  A creased jacket without the other flaws is better than the one I had.  Unfortunately, even my new jacket can still use an upgrade.

My old #75 is the first printing with yellowed paper and is a library discard.  My new #75 is the second printing with white paper and is not a library discard.  I have downgraded from a first printing to a second printing but upgraded the condition.

My old #60 is a library discard with very light wear.  It has the library pocket, so even with very light wear, the pocket decreases the desirability significantly among collectors.  The jacket has light wear but does have some surface impact marks.  The book is the first printing with yellowed paper.

My new #60 is not a library discard.  The jacket and book are in close to "as new" condition.  The book has a price written inside.  The book is the third printing with white paper.  Again, I have downgraded from a first printing to a third printing but upgraded the condition.

Both copies of #67 are first printings with yellowed paper.  My old book is a library discard while the new book is not.  My old #67 has moderate wear, and the jacket has surface impact marks.  My new #67 is in the same condition as #60 described above, which makes it an upgrade.

My old #70 is the second printing with slightly yellowed paper.  It is a library discard that has a very nice jacket with minor surface impact marks.  My new #70 is also the second printing, but the paper is slightly more yellowed.  It is not a library discard, and both the book and jacket are in close to "as new" condition.  I have downgraded to a book with slightly more yellowed paper, but otherwise, the book is an upgrade.

I decided to keep all four new books and all four new jackets, even though not all of the new books are first printings.  Here is a group photo showing my old books on the left and my new books on the right.


You can see that the condition of the books on the left is noticeably worse than the ones on the right, even though the books on the left are in great shape overall for library discards.  I have upgraded my Wanderer books and jackets so many times that I have lost count.  I have also swapped out dust jackets a number of times as well in order to keep a library discard book with less wear and match it with a better jacket from a library discard book that had more wear.  The desire has always been to have a book with as little wear as possible paired with a jacket with as little wear as possible that also does not have a library sticker on the spine. 

Here are some photos comparing the old and new books and jackets.  For each book, the first photo is of the old book and jacket, and the second photo is of the new book and jacket.  You will not notice much visible difference in the condition of the jackets, since the main difference has to do with the absence of the many surface impact marks in the new jackets.









I also photographed all of the jackets so that you can see the variances in the back panels, including codes and other information.  If I wished to be obsessive, I could convince myself to keep the variants.  However, I will not be keeping the extras.

This experience has caused me to re-evaluate what I think the Wanderer books and jackets are worth.  Since I have dealt primarily in library discards over the years, my opinion has always been that #57-60 or so are worth less than $20 and that the other titles are worth up to $50, depending upon which title and the condition of the jacket.  Library discards that have jackets without library stickers are valued at the top end of the range, and library discards with stickers on the jackets are valued less.  The more wear to the books and jackets, the less they are worth.

If I consider library discards to be worth up to $50, then books that are not library discards and are in "as new" condition must be worth considerably more.  I don't think it would be a stretch to say that #57-75 in that sort of condition are worth $75 to $100 each.  #76 and #77 would likely be worth $100 to $150 each.  #78 is worth whatever one is willing to pay.  I've always considered it to be worth more than $200.  I paid close to $300 for mine.

I can only recall seeing #78 twice on eBay in the last 15 years.  One time was in a complete set of Wanderer hardcover editions.  The books in that set were not library discards and appeared to be in close to "as new" condition.  That set sold for approximately $1,000, and this was at least 10 years ago.  The other time I saw #78 was probably during the same time period in an auction for a library discard in rough shape.  I believe it may have sold for around $50.  I did not bid on that auction, and as many years passed with none coming up for sale, I realized that I should have gone for it.

I have discussed the Wanderer hardcover editions with a few collectors in recent weeks.  One collector wondered whether it is just a few of us who value the books so highly and wondered whether the books are really worth what a few of us think they are worth.  Certainly, only some collectors would be willing to pay high prices.  I contend that since most all collectors who desire these books wish to avoid library discards, the ones that are not library discards are worth far more, especially if in "as new" condition.

Last, I believe the seller may have made a mistake by using the fixed-price format.  One collector expressed disappointment that he missed out on the books, and I suspect that some of you may feel the same way after reading through all of this.  If the seller had used the auction format and had the opening bid prices placed at the Buy It Now amounts of $40 to $65, I believe that at least some of the books might have sold for higher prices.  We'll never know.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nancy Drew Wanderer Hardcover Book Find Part 1

Last month, I happened to notice some Nancy Drew Wanderer hardcover editions with dust jackets around three hours after the seller listed the books in fixed-price listings on eBay.  This is the group picture of the books that the seller placed in each listing.


The seller also included photos of each book and jacket in each listing.  The seller did not state that the books were not library discards, but it was safe to assume that the books had never been in libraries.

The jackets appeared to be in outstanding condition, and the books appeared to be for the most part in the same condition.  Both the jacket and book for The Emerald-Eyed Cat Mystery were severely bumped at the top edge.  One of the Hardy Boys books was warped.

The seller's prices ranged from $40 to $65 per book.

Nancy Drew #60 - $50
Nancy Drew #67 - $65
Nancy Drew #68 - $65
Nancy Drew #70 - $65
Nancy Drew #74 - $50 (later reduced to $40)
Nancy Drew #75 - $40
Nancy Drew #77 - $65

The seller also had the following two Hardy Boys books, which were not of interest to me.

Hardy Boys #83 - $40
Hardy Boys #85 - $60

The prices were a little high for my taste, but I knew that some of the Nancy Drew books would be upgrades.  I got out my books and compared them carefully to these books.  I determined that #68, 74, and 77 would not be upgrades, so I removed those books from consideration. 

Another problem was that several of these books were not first printings, but mine were.  My books were library discards, but these were not.  These were obviously in better condition than mine.  I decided that I wanted to purchase #67 and #70 for sure.

I next looked at #60.  I did not like the $50 price, because #60 is one of the easier titles to find.  However, it is only easier to find as a library discard.  This book was not a library discard.  Therefore, I would be silly to pass on it when the book would be a significant upgrade, albeit a later printing than mine.  I decided to purchase #60.

Finally, I looked at #75.  I decided that I could swap books and jackets, keeping my jacket with that book.  I didn't like the bumped area, but a book in excellent condition that was not a library discard was still better than mine, even with a bumped upper spine.

I ended up purchasing #60, 67, 70, and 75.  The two Hardy Boys books sold that same day to two other people, probably both Hardy Boys collectors.  Nancy Drew #68 and #77 sold the next day.  It took awhile for #74 to sell, and the seller lowered the price of it before it sold.

When I received my books in the mail, I was extremely pleased with the condition.  As expected, the books are not library discards and are all in excellent condition, with the exception of #75.  The jackets are in outstanding condition and could be classified in "as new" condition, with the exception of #75.

Next, I had to make a decision about the books and jackets.  The first printing Wanderer books tend to have yellowed paper.  The later printing Wanderer books tend to have excellent quality white paper that has not even slightly yellowed.  The later printing books are actually nicer than the first printing books.

I asked on my Facebook page soon after receiving these books what others thought about what was most important about the Wanderer hardcover books.  I already knew that others' responses would probably support my own beliefs, but I wanted to see what they would say.  I asked what was most important from the following options.

a) first printing with yellowed paper
or
b) later printing with white paper

c) first printing in very good condition
or
d) later printing in close to "as new" condition

e) first printing in a library discard
or
f) later printing not from a library


The consensus was that b, d, and f are more important with f the most important by far.  This matches my feelings on the subject.  Of course, if one could have a book that has white paper, is a first printing, is in excellent condition, and is not a library discard, that would be the most optimal.  The trouble is that first printings of the Wanderer books usually do not have white paper, so in most cases, that combination is impossible.  We have to make concessions.

This topic is growing quite long, so I will continue in my next blog post

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nancy Drew #38 The Mystery of the Fire Dragon

In Nancy Drew #38, The Mystery of the Fire Dragon, Aunt Eloise asks Nancy to come to New York City to find out what has happened to a missing Chinese girl, Chi Che Soong.  Meanwhile, Mr. Drew has asked Nancy to go with him to Hong Kong to help him solve a mystery.  Ned Nickerson just so happens to be attending a university in Hong Kong as an exchange student, which is mighty convenient.

Much is odd about this story.  From page 2, Aunt Eloise's "large old-fashioned apartment had been converted into two separate apartments.  Each had its own entrance from the hallway."  When I have read this book in the past, I never thought much about this, but now I think it is strange.  Why was Aunt Eloise's apartment converted?  Did she not need the room?  Did she want to rent out the extra part?  And why is there a connecting door between the two apartments?  Nancy and her friends enter the Soongs' apartment several times through the door without being invited.  This is strange.

Mr. Soong's name is recycled from The Clue of the Leaning Chimney.  Reusing names from other books can cause confusion among readers.  Could they not think up a Chinese name different from Soong?  How about Wong, Chang, Yang, Wu, or Sun? 

On pages 56, Aunt Eloise comes home with bolts for the hall doors of both apartments and says that she is going to bolt both apartments.  The following passage is from page 57.
Suddenly Nancy laughed.  "We can barricade the Soongs' apartment," she said, "but we'd have to use a little magic to bolt ours after we've left it!"

Aunt Eloise blinked and laughed.  "Why, of course,"  she said.  "I was certainly letting my imagination run way with me."

Nancy added that it would be a good idea to barricade the Soongs' apartment, nevertheless.
I think it still would have been a good idea to have done the same to Aunt Eloise's apartment.  After all, the bolts would keep out intruders while the occupants are sleeping.

Bess is abducted and left on a road, blindfolded, on page 82.  An elderly couple stops to help her.  They assume that Bess is a victim of a hazing, and Bess does not correct them.  This is a plot idea borrowed from The Quest of the Missing Map.  In that book, Nancy is kidnapped and picked up by a couple in a car.  They make a similar assumption about what happened.

Part of the plot has to do with Stromberg's book store, which reminds me of the book store plot of The Whispering Statue.  While Nancy does not get a job in the book store, another girl does in order to help Nancy out.

On page 104, a flower pot is dropped from a third floor window onto Nancy's head.  She is knocked out, but okay.  A heavy object dropping from the third floor would have hit Nancy's head rather hard.  In real life, I think the impact would have easily killed her.

On page 113, Grandpa Soong asks Bess and George if they believe in thought transference.  Both girls say that they do.  With Bess, this is not surprising, but I am amazed that George also agrees.

I thought it was odd that Stromberg leaves his store unattended and unlocked, allowing customers to browse in his absence.  He supposedly has rare books that I assume are valuable, and he trusts that no one will steal them?

And of course, George looks just like Chi Che once some make-up is applied.  To the left, you can see George as Chi Che on the cover of the Danish edition.  Somehow, a Caucasian girl can easily pass as a Chinese girl with some make-up and a change to her hair style.  How convenient!

This mystery is okay, but so much of it is absurd.  I did not list everything that is strange about this book.  I consider it to be below average as compared to the other Nancy Drew books from #35 and up.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Young Adult Fan Art Exhibition

In February, Gallery1988 had an art show paying homage to children's and young adult literature.  Nancy Drew was a favorite subject for the artists.  Other subjects included Sweet Valley High and the Baby-Sitters Club.

Gallery1988 made limited run prints available for most of the art.  I purchased three of them, shown below.


Seen above is "Nancy Drew" by Becky Dreistadt.

Below are two versions of "Stratemeyer's Summer Girl" by Erica Williams.



The "Stratemeyer's Summer Girl" print is neat because of all of the symbolism, some of which cannot be seen in the online image.  The title of the store and the clock in the window are readily visible, as are the books in the basket.  But look closer at a photograph I took of the center of the print.



Click on the image to see a larger version.

The basket contains a magnifying glass along with the books.  "C Keene Cycles" is written on the side of the bicycle.  The front of the bicycle has the initials "ND."  Below the name of the shop is part of a blurb that ends with "repairs since 1930."

The image evokes memories of lazy childhood summer days filled with reading and fun activities.  I love it.

While I only purchased the three images shared in this blog post, I like many others.  I created a Pinterest board containing the art that seems to be at least loosely based on Nancy Drew.  Here are links to all four pages of art that is available for sale at Gallery1988.

Young Adult Gallery Page 1
Young Adult Gallery Page 2
Young Adult Gallery Page 3
Young Adult Gallery Page 4

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nancy Drew #37 The Clue in the Old Stagecoach

In Nancy Drew #37, The Clue in the Old Stagecoach, Nancy, Bess, and George stay at Camp Merriweather, which is near the town of Francisville.  Mrs. Strook, who lives in Francisville, requests that Nancy help locate her great-uncle's old stagecoach.  The stagecoach is believed to contain something valuable that was left to the people of Francisville.  The town of Francisville is in desperate need of a new school, and Mrs. Strook hopes that this valuable object will help.

As is typical for most of these books, Ned, Burt, and Dave are able to show up later in the story and help Nancy solve the mystery.

A subplot of the mystery concerns Audrey and Ross Monteith.  The two are staying at Camp Merriweather and are very nosy about Nancy's activities.  The Monteiths stalk Nancy, Bess, and George and want to solve their mystery for them.  This passage from page 22 describes the situation perfectly.
Unfortunately, the three girls had no sooner stepped from the convertible than they were confronted by Ross and Audrey who appeared like apparitions out of the bushes that surrounded the parking area.
Ross and Audrey hide in the bushes, waiting for Nancy, Bess, and George to return.  I like that.  The Monteiths provide a lot of comic relief in this book, and the humor adds to the plot.

On page 79, the girls run out of gas and a bear suddenly appears.  This is not exactly what happens in The Quest of the Missing Map, original text, when Nancy, Bess, and George encounter an elephant and later run out of gas.  However, I suspect that Harriet Adams was getting ideas from past stories.

By this point in the series, Harriet was fully responsible for writing these books and was not just editing books written by others.  To clarify, Harriet was rewriting the older texts of #1-34 that were written by others, but she was the sole author of each new title for #35 and up that was released each year.  Since Harriet was responsible for everything, she needed to get ideas from wherever she could.

It was while I was reading this book that I thought to myself that Harriet did okay when she took over the Nancy Drew books.  The Nancy Drew books from this era are not quite as good as the earlier books, but they are not bad.  This book is pretty good, and I found it to be an enjoyable mystery.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A "Lilac" Nancy Drew Lilac Inn

I purchased some Nancy Drew books recently, including two copies of the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery at Lilac Inn.  Since I had two copies of this book right in front of me, I immediately noticed that one of them has a purple tint to the cover.  I had never seen this before.


The book on the left has the normal illustration, and the book on the right has the purple tint.  The book with the purple tint lists to Crooked Banister on the back cover.  The inside lists Nancy Drew to 99 Steps and Dana Girls to Silver Dolphin.  The book meets the points for the 1971A-100 printing according to Farah's 12th edition.

One collector reported that he has two of the books with the purple tint and recalls having a third years ago.  The two books currently in this collector's possession list to the same titles as mine.  Another collector reported having seen the purple version.  Since we have had several of these books spotted, we can conclude that a number of them exist.  Since we know of at least three copies that have the same points, then we can also conclude that at least a partial print run has the purple tint.  This means that more of them are out there.


I find the purple tint to be quite attractive.  While I have always loved this book's cover art, I like the purple version even better.  I'm not sure if this is more due to the novelty or because the purple tint does indeed make the cover more attractive.  I tend to think that the latter is true.  When I placed a scan of this book on my Facebook page, at least four people stated that they like the purple version better, so I'm not the only one.

Farah's Guide gives the 1971A-100 print run a value of $5.00.  Since collectors seem to like the purple version, the value of the purple book would most likely be higher than $5.00, perhaps around $10.00. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nancy Drew #36 The Secret of the Golden Pavilion

In Nancy Drew #36, The Secret of the Golden Pavilion, Carson Drew is asked by Mr. Sakamaki to solve the mystery of the estate, Kaluakua, that he inherited from his grandfather.  The estate is located in Hawaii and has a secret.  Sakamaki was warned never to sell the estate until he learns its secret. 

Complicating the situation, a brother and sister have suddenly appeared, claiming to be heirs to the estate.  Also, somebody has been hacking at the floor of the Golden Pavilion, which is a circular open building on the estate.

While I recall enjoying this story as a child, I did not enjoy nearly as much when I read it again in the early 2000s.  My opinion has not changed, and I still do not enjoy it as much as other books.  The problem is the large amount of informational content about Hawaii, which at times is presented in an awkward  fashion.  When Nancy, Bess, and George discuss the trip to Hawaii, George recites some basic information about Hawaii that sounds just like it came straight out of a history book.

The content is interesting, but it is a tad too much for my taste.

On page 89, Nancy is embarrassed about a remark concerning her prowess as a detective.
Nancy blushed a little.  "Oh, I fail sometimes," she said modestly.  "But I'll do everything I can to be of help."
Norwegian Edition
Really?  And when does Nancy ever fail?  Would this be in stories that tell of her adventures but were never published?  Because I sure don't know of any times Nancy Drew has ever failed.

On page 162, Nancy plans to dance as a ghost in order to scare people away from the pavilion.  This makes the assumption that 100% of the population is superstitious and just seems exceedingly stupid.  Certainly, a few people would be scared away, but others would be intensely curious.  It seems that using the cover of darkness to search the top of the pavilion for the treasure would have been a better plan.  Instead, Nancy purposely draws attention to the pavilion by dancing in plain view.

After the feather cape is found, everyone struts around in it.  If the feather cape is so priceless, then why aren't they taking better care of it?

Despite some obvious flaws, The Secret of the Golden Pavilion is a good story.  I could have done without some of the awkward historical information, but I still enjoyed the story.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Nancy Drew Old Attic Play

This review originally appeared in the January/February 2007 issue of The Sleuth.  To subscribe to The Sleuth, please visit this page.

Review of The Secret in the Old Attic: A Nancy Drew Mystery Play for Girls
   
by Jennifer White

The Dramatic Publishing Company of Chicago published a dramatization of The Secret in the Old Attic in 1950.  The dramatization was written by Anne Coulter Martens and consists of 54 pages of dialogue.  The copyright page gives credit to Carolyn Keene and Grosset and Dunlap.

The entire play is set in the attic of the March home, and the action takes place in just one evening, a little more than two hours.  The play is in three acts and is designed to be performed by nine women or girls.

The characters and costumes are described as follows:

NANCY:  She is a charming, level-headed girl of seventeen, capable and courageous.  She wears an attractive fall suit and a shoulderstrap bag.

BESS:  Bess is attractive, steady, and a little serious, but with a quick sense of humor.  She is about seventeen.  She wears sports clothes suitable for fall.

GEORGIE:  She is Bess's age, light-hearted, gay, and giggly.  She, too, wears sports clothes.

MRS. MARCH:  She is a pretty little old lady in her sixties, firm of step and voice.  She wears a simple fall dress.

SUSAN:  Susan is a sweet, affectionate girl of fifteen.  She wears a bright sweater and skirt.

EFFIE:  Effie is seventeen, good-natured, but very excitable, and almost afraid of her own shadow.  She wears a neat little house dress and a perky apron.

MRS. LALLY:  She is a plump woman of about fifty, and a bit affected.  She dresses quite fashionably, but in good taste.

DIANE:  Diane is seventeen, very pretty, and a chatterbox.  She wears a very attractive fall dress and several pieces of good jewelry.

MISS JENNER:  She is a rather precise young woman in her twenties.  She wears a tailored suit and a hat.

Several changes have been made from the book's characters.  George has become Georgie and is also described as Nancy's frivolous friend.  Bess is Nancy's serious friend.  Diane Dight has become Diane Lally, and Diane's mother is Mrs. Lally.  Mr. March has become a woman, Mrs. March, who is Susan's grandmother.  Susan is fifteen years old instead of six years old.  Mr. Jenner, the owner of the music company,  is now Miss Jenner.  Effie and Nancy are the only two characters who are about the same as what they are in the book.  Horace Lally, Mr. Dight, Mr. Booker, and Bushy Trott are in the book but do not appear in the play.  Since the book's villain is Bushy Trott, the play's villain is of necessity a different person.

The plot of the play is completely centered upon the missing March music.  The book has two subplots which are completely omitted from the play.  In the book, Diane Dight tricks Ned into inviting her to the Emerson dance, and Mr. Booker suspects that his secret formula for a special fabric has been stolen by Bushy Trott.  The plot of the play is much simpler than that of the book which allows for the greatly expanded dialogue of the play.  There are no direct quotes from the book present in the play.  The text of the play is completely original, and it is just the general plot of the missing music that is taken from the book.

Even though the book has a more complex plot than the play, the play is just as good as the book, only in a different way.  After reading the play, I have thought about how the book could have been different.  I have no complaints about the book, but reading the play has caused me to consider how neat it would have been if there were more humor in the book, especially with Effie.

Below is a summary of the plot of the play, scene by scene.  I have made the summary as brief as I could without leaving out any important points.  So much happens in the play that I could have easily made the summary longer than what is presented here.  This 54-page play is full of action with no filler material.  Everything that happens is important to the plot, which is in contrast to the book in which certain comments could have been left out without detriment to the plot.  I have added a few of the more interesting and amusing quotes to the summary.  Enjoy!
   
ACT ONE

As the play opens, Mrs. March and Susan tidy up the attic for the arrival of Nancy Drew.  The Marches have asked Nancy to search for music that was written by Mrs. March's son and Susan's father, Phillip March.  Mrs. March and Susan are in dire need of money and hope that the music can be found and sold.  The Marches have already sold nearly all of their antiques with the help of their neighbor, Mrs. Lally.

Effie helps Mrs. March and Susan prepare the attic, and Effie expresses doubt about Nancy's common sense in deciding to sleep on a couch in the attic.  Shortly, Nancy arrives, bringing her father's picture with her which she places on a table.  Nancy also brings a packet of letters that Mrs. March had given to her.  The letters were written by Mrs. March's son, Phillip, and may provide a clue to the missing music.  Nancy points out an interesting verse that she found in one letter:

Heed this message from my pen,
Climb the stairs and climb again;
Walk across the ancient floor,
Open wide the secret door,
Then the answer you will see,
Simply this, keys are the key.

Nancy feels that the verse is a clue to the location of the music and is certain that the verse refers to the attic.  Nancy decides to search for secret panels and secret drawers in the attic.  Next, the Marches tell Nancy that they have heard one of Phillip's songs on the radio and fear that the music may have been stolen.  Susan mentions that Mrs. March rented rooms to tourists last summer and that someone may have found the music. 

Mrs. Lally and her daughter, Diane, arrive and come up to the attic to visit with Nancy.  After greeting Nancy, Mrs. Lally goes downstairs with Mrs. March, leaving Diane alone with Nancy.  Diane chatters incessantly to Nancy while Nancy looks at the letters.

DIANE:  Mother's getting me new slippers, too, Nancy.  Silver.

NANCY: [not looking up]  Mmm.

DIANE:  And a little evening bag.

NANCY:  Mmm.

DIANE:  A darling one, but just terribly expensive.  [Crosses to NANCY]  Nancy, are you listening to me?  Or am I bothering you?  If you're concentrating on something, do tell me, and I'll not say another word.  Because I know how it is when a person tries to keep her mind on something, and someone else keeps chattering all the time.

NANCY:  [looking up]  Do you?

DIANE:  Really, it's most annoying, isn't it?  So if I am bothering you   [Comes closer] You're reading old letters, aren't you?  Why are you reading old letters?

After this conversion, Bess and Georgie arrive.  Georgie sits on the couch and bounces up and down to try it out.  Bess has brought a radio and plugs in it for Nancy.  The girls open a trunk and begin taking out dresses.  They fix up a dressmaker's dummy and name her Miss Mehitibel.  Suddenly Susan hears one of her father's songs on the radio.

Nancy knows the title of the song, so she goes downstairs to call a friend who works in a music store.  After completing her conversation, Nancy returns to the attic to reveal that the composer is Ben Banks and that the music was published by the Jenner Music Publishing Company.  Nancy says that she called the company and spoke to someone named Miss Jenner.  Miss Jenner became quite indignant when Nancy suggested that the music had been stolen. 

Susan thinks the name Jenner sounds familiar and recalls that a James Jenner stayed at the house last summer.  The group hears a banging shutter several times, and Effie sees a strange man outside.  The girls leave the attic to investigate.


ACT TWO

The girls return to the attic to find the light off and the rocking chair rocking back and forth gently until it stops.  Somebody was in the attic!  Nancy looks in the wardrobe and trunk for the intruder, but finds nothing.  Since nobody passed the girls on the stairs, Nancy concludes that there must be a secret entrance to the attic.  Effie asks Nancy is she is armed and decides to go find some weapons when Nancy tells her that she is unarmed.

Miss Jenner arrives and comes to the attic to speak to Nancy.  Miss Jenner tries to find out what Nancy knows about the music and demands to see a copy.  During the conversation, Nancy tells Miss Jenner that someone named James Jenner rented a room last summer.  Miss Jenner admits that her brother's name is James, but is annoyed about what Nancy is implying.  Miss Jenner heads towards the stairs in a huff.  As Miss Jenner approaches the stairs, Effie appears.

EFFIE [in a deep voice]  Don't take another step!

MISS JENNER [alarmed]  Good heavens!  [Steps back, putting her hands to her throat.]

SUSAN [jumping up]  Oh!

NANCY [moving near MISS JENNER]  Don't be afraid.

MISS JENNER [moving away from Nancy]  Keep away from me!

EFFIE [outside door]  Move at your own risk.  I'm armed!  [Pushes door open with her foot and comes into room.  She holds an open umbrella in front of her like a shield, and is brandishing a rolling pin.]

MISS JENNER [ backing away]  Is she out of her mind?

EFFIE [menacingly]  Capture her!  She's one of the gang!

Fortunately Nancy and Susan get Effie's weapons away from her, and Miss Jenner leaves.  Everyone except Nancy leaves the attic.  Suddenly, Nancy hears piano music, and a spooky voice warns Nancy to leave the house immediately!

Bess and Georgie return from searching outside, having found nothing.  The girls discuss what Nancy heard and whether Effie really saw a man.  They decide to tap for secret panels. 

GEORGIE:  In stories, there's always a hollow sound.  Listen.  [Taps hard.]  Ow!  [Puts her knuckles to her mouth.]

The girls read the verse from the letter again but are not able to figure out what it means.  Nancy empties the wardrobe of its contents and finds nothing.  Nancy stays in the attic while everyone else goes downstairs.  Nancy decides to push the wardrobe aside and discovers a secret door.  The door is locked, and Nancy hurries from the attic to get a key ring.  While Nancy is gone, an intruder whose face is hidden by a handkerchief opens the door and steps out into the attic.  He sees the letters and looks through them.  As Nancy returns, the man hides in the wardrobe.  Nancy tries the knob of the door and is surprised that it is unlocked.  Nancy enters the secret room.

ACT THREE

Nancy finds the lost music in the hidden room and returns to the attic through the secret door.  The intruder sneaks up behind Nancy and hits her over the head!  He ties Nancy up and hides her in the secret room.  The intruder pushes the wardrobe back in front of the secret door, leaving a small part of the door visible.  He hides in the wardrobe just before Susan and Effie enter the attic.  The girls are surprised that Nancy has disappeared but assume that Nancy has followed Bess and Georgie over to Diane Lally's house.  Susan and Effie hear a moan and are frightened.

Bess and Georgie enter the attic excitedly and report that Diane Lally has been kidnapped!  The girls found a pair of men's gloves on Diane's front porch, and Diane is  nowhere to be found.  Perhaps the mysterious intruder has kidnapped Diane!

Mrs. March and Mrs. Lally now enter the attic.  Everyone is worried about both Diane and Nancy and consider calling the police.  Effie stays in the attic while everyone else goes outside to look around.  Effie goes over to the wardrobe to open its door and is knocked over the head by the intruder!

The others return to the attic and wonder what is wrong with Effie.  Effie is groggy and doesn't know what happened to her.  After hearing more moans, the girls finally notice the edge of the secret door.  They push the wardrobe out of the way, commenting about how heavy it is.  The girls enter the secret room and find Nancy.  As they return to the attic, supporting Nancy, the intruder exits the wardrobe and tries to escape.

Mrs. March, Mrs. Lally, and Miss Jenner enter the attic as the girls all grab at the intruder.  The intruder is subdued and the handkerchief is pulled from the figure's face to reveal . . . Diane!

Diane claims that Mrs. Lally forced her to steal the music; at the same time, Mrs. Lally blames Diane's taste for lavish taste in clothing as the reason for stealing.  Mrs. Lally explains that found the first piece of music while she was searching the attic for antiques to sell for Mrs. March.  Since the missing music has been found, Mrs. March decides to let the two women go without pressing charges.  Miss Jenner apologizes to Nancy for her attitude and asks Mrs. March if she can see the rest of the music.  Miss Jenner feels certain that her company will want to publish it.

In closing, Susan, Bess, and Georgie comment how Nancy was hidden in the secret room, and they had no idea.  The girls teasingly chide the dressmaker's dummy Mehitibel for seeing everything and keeping silent about it.

GEORGIE:  Sees all, hears all, tells nothing.  The perfect woman!  [Laughs.  Other girls join in her laughter.]

CURTAIN