Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Outdoor Girls Series

In the coming days, I will post some of my past comments from the Vintage Series Books group. These past comments are worth revisiting. I have decided to begin with my Outdoor Girls posts. Right off, I notice that I compared the Outdoor Girls series to the Beverly Gray series. In my last post, I mentioned that the Outdoor Girls series and the Ruth Fielding series were the most likely series that influenced Clair Blank.

From December 26, 2005:

I am about finished reading the Outdoor Girls series. I have been pleasantly surprised with how much I have enjoyed the books as I had no idea what to expect. I feel like the series is a combination of the Blythe Girls series and the Beverly Gray series. Most of the books were written by Elizabeth Duffield Ward, so it is natural that there is a similarity to the Blythe Girls series. Volumes 8 through 11 deal with World War I, both the girls' work in support of the war effort and their fears about their boyfriends' safety. The general feel of this part of the series is much, much like the Blythe Girls series.

I compare the series to Beverly Gray because like in the Beverly Gray series, the Outdoor Girls series has a group of girls and their boyfriends who go on one vacation after another (with the difference that the Outdoor Girls stay in the United States and generally in the northeast) and have many exciting adventures. The various Outdoor Girls are nearly drowned many times and are nearly bitten by snakes many times. In one case, a landslide traps the girls and their horses in a cave. The horses are spooked and the thought of the girls trapped in an enclosed place with spooked horses is quite frightening. So, the Outdoor Girls series appeals to my sense of adventure in much the same way that the Beverly Gray series does.

There is also a lot of humor in the Outdoor Girls series. There are many amusing scenes and/or comments in each book.

While I did like the first six books which were written by Howard Garis, I enjoyed the books written by Elizabeth Duffield Ward much more.

All in all, I consider the Outdoor Girls series to be a very strong series and well worth reading.


Days later, another person commented that the Outdoor Girls series is one of her favorite series. She wondered why it doesn't get noticed more. On January 3, 2006, I posted the following response:

I have an idea why it doesn't get noticed, and I base my thoughts upon why I ignored it for the longest time.

The Outdoor Girls series went out of print shortly after the Nancy Drew series began. Most people who are currently actively collecting are not old enough to remember the Outdoor Girls series. The Outdoor Girls series is only advertised on the very early Nancy Drew dust jackets which are very difficult to acquire. Most people collecting are buying books with dust jackets that do not advertise the Outdoor Girls series.

When I was in the early stages of collecting, I was buying Nancy Drews from the 1950s and 1960s. When I started to spot Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, Vicki Barr, and Connie Blair books in antique shops, I was very likely to purchase them because I had seen them mentioned on the Nancy Drew jackets. The advertising influenced me in my used book purchases.

I do remembering buying one or two Outdoor Girls books in the mid-1990s, but I later sold them because they didn't appeal to me. The titles didn't pique my interest, and this brings me to the other reason that I believe that the series is ignored. The name of the series itself sounds rather ordinary and does not at all convey how well-written, interesting, and even exciting the books are.

The books set during World War I are quite moving. I also found the comments that were made about the enemy to be interesting. There are a number of very negative comments about the Germans. For instance:

"Of course it's cruel," said Allen grimly. "But so were the Huns cruel, centuries ago. The German people have simply never advanced beyond that state. They're still in the first stages of civilization."

That quote is from Army Service, pages 25-26. Ouch! What strikes me about it is how politically incorrect that comment is and how comments like it would not be made in children's books nowadays. This type of thing is what I love about the old books. They give us an opportunity to see just a little bit of what things were like many years ago and how people viewed the world.

1 comment:

beautifulshell said...

I know this is an old post, but I just came across it in a search for Vicki Barr. I recently read one of the Grace Harlowe Overseas books, and the same attitude towards the Germans is in those. I think it's fascinating!