I have recently sampled several children's books at our public library. I had been reading the old Nancy Drew series. I finished all they had and happened to end on the oldest of the old series. I also got the oldest one of the new series, where they had modernized Nancy and the stories. I didn't want to read those because I was afraid it would ruin it all for me. But I got curious. Here are the major differences that I noticed: The old series had pictures. They were corny, but I enjoyed them. In the old series, church was mentioned several times, even prayer. The housekeeper played a major part. Also, Nancy had a boyfriend. In the new series, Ned Nickerson was absent. I missed him. Bess had a romance, but not Nancy. The major difference was that the new series moved at a nonstop pace. I rather enjoyed that I could put an old book down and do some living. Nancy escaped death at least three times in the new book. She has quite a record. Also, the old books used to use funny substitutions for Nancy like: the amature detective said, or the young sleuth did... I thought them funny and charming. The new book nixed that. So here's the thing: the old books were quaint and endearing while the new ones were fresh and exciting. Most people would prefer the latter, I think. I'm not so sure that I do.
I read a fantastic book called "The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate" by Jacqueline Kelly. The cover had black silhouettes on yellow of the heroine and birds and butterflies, etc. Calpurnia came alive one summer when she was "introduced" to her grandfather, a naturalist. The story got off to a slow start. There was no real conversation until near the end of the first long chapter. But once it got going, it wove a spell over me of natures' miracles, of family love, and of the hopes for a girl at the turn of the l800s. By the end, it was nearly an all-nighter as I tried to find out if something wonderful was going to happen or not. It's what I would call an "instant classic." It's old-fashioned, but also modern in its appeal. I have to see if I can buy it. I definitely want to read it again and again. I also want to say they the author's choice of words at times was as unexpected and beautiful as a butterfly landing on your hand. Just exquisite.
I read two other books that week. One was called "Scarlet Stockings: The Enchanted Riddle" by Charlotte Kandel and one about toys that talk. Don't remember the name of that one. These were pretty good, too.
If this is the state of the children's market, just from several random picks (all in the K's), I won't worry too much about my grandchildrens' future reading habits. About the competition? Only the best will do. But for our children, that's the way it should be. Have a great weekend. Nancy
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