Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Penny Allen and the Mystery of the Hidden Treasure

Penny Allen and the Mystery of the Hidden Treasure is the second and final Penny Allen book. It was written by Jean McKetchnie and published in 1950. The first Penny Allen book tells the story of the Allen family and is a greatly condensed version of volumes 2 and 3 from the Adventurous Allens series by Harriet Pyne Grove. This second Penny Allen book tells the story of the fifth and final Adventurous Allens book, The Adventurous Allens' Treasure Hunt.

It is just as well that McKetchnie ignored The Adventurous Allens Marooned when she created these two Penny Allen books. The Adventurous Allens Marooned is a horribly boring book. Unfortunately, The Adventurous Allens' Treasure Hunt is even more awful.

While many details are the same and many quotes are intact, McKetchnie completely rewrote much of the text. Around two-thirds of the first Penny Allen book contains text written by Grove. Probably only around one-third of the text of the second Penny Allen book is text written by Grove. McKetchnie added many new details to the plot which make it interesting.

The Allens receive multiple warning messages telling them to leave the property immediately. False clues are planted around the property by the villains in hopes of distracting the Allens into digging fruitlessly for treasure so that the villains have time to make off with the real treasure. None of this is in Grove's book.

I was happy to see that the Allens had far fewer named guests. The Adventurous Allens' Treasure Hunt tossed names at the reader constantly, and I was never able to keep up with any of them. This book just has a few guests who are mentioned by name and an unknown number of other guests who are referred to only as "the guests." This made the Penny Allen book much less confusing and easier to read.

If I had not already been tortured by reading five books by Harriet Pyne Grove, I might have greatly enjoyed this book. Since I was still traumatized by my previous experience, I did not enjoy it as much as I could have. I do feel that the two Penny Allen books are worth reading and are pretty good books. In fact, the Penny Allen books are a great way to experience the better parts of the Adventurous Allens series without acquiring temporary dementia. Just make sure you avoid Harriet Pyne Grove.

I think I have now thoroughly killed any chance I had of selling the two Adventurous Allens books that are in my Bonanza booth. Darn.


beautifulshell said...

I just thought of something last night as we were talking about copyright in my class: Copyrights used to last 14 years. If HPG's books came out in 1932 and the copyright was not renewed, Penny Allen may not actually have been infringing on anybody's rights.

Of course, if the copyright was active (since they could be renewed), that's besides the point. Just a thought!

Jennifer White said...

Go to my last Adventurous Allens post where James Keeline posted a lot of information in the comments section. I am not a copyright law expert, so I never know when a copyright has expired. According to James, the copyright on the Adventurous Allens would not have expired until 1960. If so, then the books would have still beeh under copyright.

I am inclined to think that the plates and rights were purchased by World Syndicate, and that is why the books were turned into the Penny Allen books.

stratomiker said...

I think the recent debacle with the faux Danas illustrated how copyright owners react to someone doing something infringing with their characters.

S&S (or whoever runs them now) had the books pulled from eBay, Bonanzle, and Craig's List. they didn't bother the producer of the books, just made it clear not to sell them publicly.

I doubt that they care about the books being rewritten Kay Tracey titles (plagiarism) because they don't care about Kay and probably never will. But the Danas are characters still being used, in the new Nancy Drew graphic novels, so they have to protect them.

I warned the producer of the faux Danas that the books would be stopped, but he didn't seem to believe it. Lawyers are always on the lookout to protect copyrights and those phone calls to eBay and the others were probably charged at a $500 a minute rate.

On the other hand, you can 'publish' fanfiction online and nobody cares about it, usually, unless it gets nasty. There are something like 10,000 Harry Potter fanfics online and the only ones they went after were the ones that are called 'slash', sexual. There are many Drews and Hardys and even Danas that have been online for years.

Even though online publishing is legally considered 'publishing', copyright owners generally do not care about fan efforts put online.


keeline said...

Yes, copyrights were once 14 years (in 1790 with no renewal term). The next change was to make them renewable for a second 14-year term (28 total) with the ability to pass it to one's heirs. Prior to this the copyright died with the original registrant.

By 1909 the standard was a 28-year first term and a renewal term of 28 years (56 total).

This was true until the copyright act of 1976 (starting 1 Jan 1978) where the new standard for works for hire (author copyrights were then different) was 75 years of total protection (now expanded to a whopping 95 years) and the old books would have a 47-year second term IF they were renewed. Many were not which is why sites like incopyright.org are relevant by listing copyright renewals on US books from 1923 to 1963, a period before the automatic renewals where a book that is not renewed may well be public domain now. Several Rick Brant books are in this category along with three Tom Swift stories, etc.

One of the arguments was that people live longer so the copyrights should be made longer. The same argument has not been applied to patents which are still around 20 years. Are we to believe that people live 4-5 times as long now as they did in the 1790s or twice as long as the 1910s? It is not true.

The public domain in the US is the treasure we receive from the creative people in exchange for giving them a temporary monopoly on their works. They were never intended to provide multi-generational income.

James Keeline