Friday, February 3, 2012

Nancy Drew #12 Message in the Hollow Oak

The revised text of the Nancy Drew book, The Message in the Hollow Oak, is flat all the way through, and the story lacks believability. A bunch of professional detectives try to find the hollow oak that contains Père François' treasure. They give up and go home.

Actually, the detectives' time off ran out, so that is the reason. They ask Nancy to find the treasure. I realized as I read the book that Nancy spends very little of her time searching for the hollow oak. Most of her time is spent at the dig, on a towboat, and in a search for a missing student. Since Nancy searches so very little, the detectives could surely have found the hollow oak themselves.

During one scene, Nancy is awakened when an intruder arrives at the dig. She chases after the intruder, yet she is able to return to her room, immediately fall asleep, and sleep until the morning. I'm pretty sure that Nancy also had a nighttime adventure in the revised text Broken Locket and was able to fall asleep immediately.

I'm impressed. Whenever I have excitement of any kind late in the evening, I need several hours to calm down enough in order to get to sleep. And then I usually do not sleep well. Nancy is amazing.

Kit Kadle is a dumb name.

On the towboat, a log sails through a window, nearly killing someone. The boys offer to replace the window and promptly do. Wait... what? The towboat keeps extra windows on board just in case one breaks?! Wow! I should buy a bunch of windows and store just in case we have a hailstorm this spring—never mind that the last time a window broke from hail was back in 1999. I just have to be prepared because it is bound to happen again eventually...

Did I mention that Kit Kadle is a dumb name?

The final chapter of the book is titled "Kit and Caboodle." Is that why the villain is named Kit, just so that we could have a cute chapter title?

The original text is a completely different story from the revised text. As I began reading the book, I could remember very little of the story, so I was not sure why the entire text was abandoned in favor of a total rewrite. Nancy wins a piece of property in a radio contest, which is old-fashioned, but that part could have been easily changed.

As I read further, I reflected that the story of Annette Chap and Norman Ranny's romance is a little old-fashioned. Nancy's encounters with the villains, Tom Stripe and Raymond Niles, are a bit over-the-top, but those parts could have been rewritten. Bess has a sleepwalking scene that is just plain bizarre. Later, Nancy and her father get together a posse with which to confront the villains. The revised text Nancy Drew books always follow the law to the letter, so removing the part about the posse is understandable.

I feel that the Stratemeyer Syndicate would have been better off to have found a way to keep the original text story but modernize it. I was thinking about how this could have been done.

How about have Bess win a property in Canada by choosing the winning name for a new food product? Bess gets frightened when strange men try to get her to sign over the deed to her new property. Nancy, Bess, and George travel to Canada to see what's up. Adding to the suspense, the girls have no idea that the land might contain gold.

In the case of The Message in the Hollow Oak, I enjoyed the original text much more so than the revised text. The revised text is weak, but the original text is engaging and suspenseful all the way through. There is no comparison.


Idylatoo said...

I think all that needed to happen was one of the girls inherit the land from a distant relative they never met.

I think the oddities and inconsistencies make the revised feel more dated than the original text. As a child, I thought "Wow, they really trusted people back then." As I got older and read more of the originals, I realized the truth is that a lot of the revised books have a lot of lazy conveniences that are rather unbelievable in any time period when you take the time to think about it. Not to mention plots involving things like explosive oranges!

larissa said...

I couldn't agree with you more. The revised version is one of my least favorite of the series. It is has nothing to do with the first version, which I can't understand because I thought it was very good. It might be a little dated, but that fact actually appealed to me when I was young, as it still does today.

mousecliffe said...

I remember really liking this story as an 8/9 year old. Though I must admit I had completely forgotten the "love story" sub-plot.
I was mostly impressed by the wilderness trekking part of the story. And Nancy & Co. blowing up the Yellow Dawn Mining Company. And George asking the head crook if the Yellow Dawn Mining Co. was a business or a disease.

William Land said...

Again, the original text is a much better story than the revised text. Jennifer has covered many of the reasons why the revised text is poor and I agree with her.

The original text is an adventure in Canada. When I read this book at age 10 or 11, I had assumed that Nancy had visited Northern Ontario because the art on the picture cover edition I was reading seemed so much like the woods near my home. As an adult, I realized that the Yellow Dawn Mining Company could be found in almost any part of Canada.

As a child, I thought the train wreck was exciting reading - I still do!

The Nappi cover art for the original text book is one of my favourite paintings. I love the fall colours on the trees set in the wilderness scene. Nancy looks especially attractive in her green outfit. I'd love to own the original cover painting for this book!

Thomas Outman said...

I read the RT first. I was so excited that Nancy was visiting Aunt Eloise again and got stuck in the elevator. I also think the RT cover is one of Nappi's best. After the initial excitement, the story got really boring. Years later I read the OT and was amazed at the differences. Really, the title is the only similarity. I also loved the train wreck and that whole sub-plot. When the girls got to Canada, it was too much like Shadow Ranch for my taste.