Ruth Fielding at Snow Camp + a questionMarch 22, 2007
Ruth Fielding at Snow Camp is more the sort of Ruth Fielding book I’m used to — lots of little adventures and one mystery that is a kind of background subplot. Ruth, Tom and Helen Cameron, and six of their friends spend a vacation at a big log cabin in upstate New York. The setting provides the adventures: a panther, a snowstorm, etc., and the mystery involves a local boy going by the name of someone who was recently murdered.
The scenes in which the kids are supposed to be having fun are the weakest part of the book. They don’t enjoy themselves as convincingly as the characters in a book by, say, Percy Keese Fitzhugh or Carolyn Wells. Also, one of the “funny” incidents parallels a scene in Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl a little bit too closely. But then, Ruth herself is a lot like Polly Milton, and that’s one of the things that raises this series above a lot of the others. Ruth actually has a personality — she’s gentle and inclined to worry, but also patient and determined. This gives her a great advantage over, say, the Rover boys, who can each be described in a word(Dick: smart, Sam: amiable, Tom: sociopath).
The plots of Ruth Fielding books are fairly decent, too — they fall a little short of the relative realism of Percy Keese Fitzhugh’s boy scout books, but they’re far better than, say the plots of the Frank Merriwell books. I mean, when Ruth goes snowshoeing for the first time, she’s sore afterwards. And Tom Cameron is lovely character — much more interesting than Ned Nickerson in the Nancy Drew books, or any of the girls in Stratemeyer’s boys’ series. I can’t blame Ruth for wanting to marry him.
Um. I guess it’s kind of obvious that I’m better grounded in this sort of book than in the other kinds I’ve talked about, isn’t it?
Anyway, my blog stats, which I check far too often, tell me that Redeeming Qualities has had more visitors today than ever before. So, now that there are a few more of you reading this, what do you want to see more of?
Adventure novels, like the Sabatini books I’ve talked about? I’m sure I could find something to say about sacrifice in Anthony Hope, and I could go on for days about various things related to A.E.W. Mason’s The Four Feathers.
Juveniles, like the Ruth Fielding books? I know at some point I’m going to want to talk about Carolyn Wells’ Patty Fairfield series, and I could rant about The Rover Boys for hours.
Mysteries, like Ashton-Kirk? I’ll probably talk about a couple of Carolyn Wells’ at some point, and I’m slowly making my way through the first Fu-Manchu book.
Terrible romances, like the Charlotte M. Braeme books? I certainly plan on reading the rest of the “Everyday Life” series at some point.
Really decent books, like Sabatini’s and Marie Conway Oemler’s? There’s one Oemler available online that I haven’t read yet. I’m saving it, I think.
Obviously, I’m not going to reform my reading habits based on anyone else’s preferences. In the end, I’ll read what I want. But I can certainly do something about proportions.