Friday, February 10, 2012

Nancy Drew #13 Mystery of the Ivory Charm

Note: For readers who are not familiar with this book, Coya is the young boy from India in the original text, and Rishi is the same boy from India, but with a different name, in the revised text.

When I reviewed Nancy Drew #12, The Message in the Hollow Oak, I concluded that the original text story is a better story than the revised text. Inexplicably, the Stratemeyer Syndicate abandoned a good story and wrote a completely different story that is greatly inferior. This was a mistake.

The Stratemeyer Syndicate made the mistake in reverse for Nancy Drew #13, The Mystery of the Ivory Charm. The original text of Ivory Charm was condensed to create the revised text. The storyline remained the same for the revision, and large portions of text are identical in both versions. Ivory Charm is one of those books in which the original text should have been abandoned in favor of a fresh new story.

Ivory Charm is full of superstition and odd behavior. Miss Anita Allison is a bizarre person who slips into trances in the middle of conversations. When Miss Allison comes out of her trances, she tends to be confused and have missing memories. Miss Allison's house has no insides; it consists of a big space with trapeze ropes. The story does not make clear why she has such an unusual house. Her house burns down, and we never learn for certain who did it or why. These flaws are present in both versions.

Some of the problems of the original text were lessened in the revised text. In the original text, Coya's heart has stopped, and he is not breathing. Nancy gives him the life-giving potion from the charm and waits until color returns to his face. Only then, Nancy begins to pump his chest. Coya would have had severe brain injury from lack of oxygen with the lapse of time before Nancy tries to resuscitate him. In the revised text, Rishi is being giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the time the potion is administered. Both versions are unbelievable, but the revised text is somewhat plausible.

Many of the problems of the original text were made worse in the revision. In the revised text, Rishi picks up the charm from where Rai left it. Rishi runs away and then gives the charm to Nancy. Nancy hopes to keep Rishi from being found by Rai, but she wears the ivory charm everywhere she goes, making no attempt to conceal it. This makes it easy for Rai to figure out where Rishi is. The charm is still Rai's, even if Rishi picked it up. I find it odd that Nancy feels comfortable keeping it.

In the original text, Rai gives the ivory charm to Nancy after she survives a close encounter with a snake. Since the charm was given to Nancy, it makes sense that Nancy would wear it. The possession of the charm does not make it obvious that Coya is with Nancy.

Rishi goes to the circus with Nancy and her friends in the revised text. I found this strange, since Rishi does not want to be spotted by Rai. In the original text, Nancy decides that Coya would be upset if he were to attend the circus. Here is another instance of the original text having more logic.

In the original text, Miss Allison reads from a bejeweled book in Sanskrit. In the revised text, no doubt to save words, Miss Allison reads from a bejeweled book titled Sanskrit. This makes it sound like the book is a grammar book for the Sanskrit language. Hmm. Sometimes removing too many words from a story in order to condense it can cause some serious issues.

In the revised text, Nancy is unsure about attending a dance at Emerson. Ned informs her that an Emerson student is from India. Suddenly, Nancy is eager to attend the dance. She is certain that the student can help her. India had approximately 500 million residents at the time Ivory Charm was revised. Exactly why is Nancy so sure that this young man can help?

In the original text, Nancy is excited to go to the dance just because she will enjoy it. The student from India is at the dance, but he is not the reason Nancy is so eager to go. The original text states that "her enthusiasm had mounted to a high pitch" about going to the dance with Ned. In the revised text, "Nancy's enthusiasm for the weekend at Emerson rose to a high pitch" only because a random boy from India will be present. How totally bizarre.

In both texts, monkeys get out of their cage at the circus and leap from person to person. The revised text takes it a step further by having a monkey land on Nancy's head and begin pulling her hair. George pulls the monkey's tail, which makes the monkey leave. First, I hardly think that a monkey would land on Nancy's head without Nancy getting injured. Second, I am skeptical about whether the monkey would leave without incident after getting his tail pulled.

In both texts, Mr. Drew makes an astute observation. "Rai must have a secret hideout... Otherwise, we'd surely locate him." You don't say! Do you really think that Rai would be standing on the street corner waiting to be noticed?

The revised text includes Mr. Tilak, who is Rishi's real father. Strangely, he lives in River Heights. What a coincidence that Rishi and his father have been separated for years and somehow they are found in the same city in the United States.

I had trouble determining which text I like better. Both texts have significant problems, but the original is overall more logical. Therefore, I cast my vote in favor of the original text. In closing, enjoy one of the ridiculous internal illustrations from the revised text, shown to the right.


Idylatoo said...

I'm really enjoying your reviews! This one cleared up the Rishi vs. Coya different for me.

When I first read a lot of Nancy Drews, they were from my elementary school's library and had been donated. Apparently a lot of the ones I read actually were the original text - so no wonder the stories seemed a bit different when I bought the flashlight copies for myself!

I must admit, while the trapeze house is SO implausible it still sounds like it'd be a fun place to visit.

milliemouse said...

This one was my favorite Nancy Drew book(in the original version) when I was young. I find the revision unreadable. Too bad. I've always wondered why Coya's name was changed to Rishi. Was Coya not actually an Indian name, or what? I still think for the sake of young people reading it, they should have kept it a name with a C, or other letter even, rather than changing it to a name that had many of the same letters of Rai's name. Why do that?

Thomas Outman said...

This is actually my favorite. I just find the story of Coya/Rishi priceless. Maybe it's because I find the Indian culture fascinating. Maybe it's because I always hoped Nancy and her dad would rescue me and take me to their grand house to live. I just recently read it again and felt the same dread when Rai kidnaps the boy. I'm really glad the story wasn't changed.