Friday, December 14, 2018

Judy Bolton #1 The Vanishing Shadow

In Judy Bolton #1, The Vanishing Shadow, Judy Bolton spends the summer at her grandparents' farm.  Judy overhears a conversation about the Roulsville dam.  One of the workers abducts Judy in an attempt to make her keep quiet, even though Judy doesn't understand the significance of what she overheard.

Arthur Farringdon-Pett believes that the new Roulsville dam was built in a slipshod fashion, and he fears that the dam will break if the area should get any rain.  Soon, the moment of truth arrives, and a storm threatens.  Will the dam hold?

I found several parts of the original text to be confusing.  Judy receives 10 tickets to the spelling bee in the mail, and it is not clear that she is supposed to sell them.  I was also confused when Mr. Dobbs reveals that he sent Judy the tickets and that he and Peter bet on the winners.  I thought he was referring to who would sell the most tickets, but then I later realized that he meant the winners of the spelling bee.

Judy is abducted in The Vanishing Shadow.  According to Melanie Knight in A Guide to Judy Bolton Country, Margaret added the kidnapping sequence "at the insistence of the publisher."  Margaret never wanted the abduction in the story.

The Vanishing Shadow was revised in 1964.  The revision is an improvement, since the parts of the original text that confused me were changed.  The 1964 text makes it more clear that Judy is expected to sell the tickets, although not as clear as it should have been.  It is made clear that Mr. Dobbs and Peter bet on the spelling bee winners.

The details of Judy's abduction were removed from the 1964 text.  She is still held captive in the shack, but the reader doesn't know how she gets there.  The details about the gag were also removed from the story.

In the original text, Judy impulsively digs out the Dry Brook dam and later regrets it.  In the 1964 text, she considers digging out the dam but learns more information that prevents her from doing it.

In the original text, Judy and Peter find a gun in the shack.  That scene was removed from the 1964 text.

Blackberry doesn't go missing in the 1964 text.  His lengthy disappearance in the original text makes little sense, and his appearance later is illogical, since he somehow survives the flood.

Also in the original text, Peter asks Judy how Blackberry is, like he doesn't know that Blackberry has disappeared.  Judy answers sadly that she doesn't know, and Peter doesn't think anything is odd.  When Peter asks about Blackberry in the 1964 text, the dialog is logical since Blackberry is still around.

The 1967 Tempo edition further clarifies the ticket situation.  In this text, the reader learns the moment that Judy receives the tickets that she is supposed to sell them.  Thank you!

The abduction and Judy's imprisonment in the shack were completely removed from the Tempo edition.  Instead of being abducted, Judy actually tries to sell the tickets by going from house to house, which she never does in the previous editions.

The 1967 Tempo edition does include the scene where Judy and Peter enter the shack.  This scene was completely removed from the 1964 edition.  The original text scene was rewritten for this edition.  There is no revolver, but this time when the cloak falls, it falls on Judy's head instead of onto the floor.

An additional scene with Horace is present in the Tempo edition.  After Horace rides with the warning about the dam, the Tempo edition adds a scene where Horace rides Ginger up onto higher ground.  He stops and climbs a tree, surprised that the dam hasn't broken.  He then sees the middle section fall and the flood waters inundate the town.  He is horrified and lies on the ground in hysterics.

I originally read the first three Judy Bolton books in the fall of 1991.  I enjoyed all three and then built my set over the next seven years.  The books were very hard to find in the 1990s.

I have always considered some aspects of The Vanishing Shadow to be odd, but I have always enjoyed it.  Several series book enthusiasts have stated that they tried to read The Vanishing Shadow and did not like it at all, causing them not to read any other Judy Bolton books.  For that reason, many of us now suggest that readers try another book instead.  Most suggest The Haunted Attic, but I feel that sampling the series with one of the middle volumes (like #18-20 or #22-28) would be best.

I greatly enjoyed all three texts of The Vanishing Shadow on this reading.

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