Archive for the ‘juvenile’ Category

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Tom Slade’s Double Dare

March 12, 2008

There’s a particular kind of plot, particularly common in adventure novels, where the hero, after having done something particularly heroic, is thought to have done something bad instead and is shunned by everyone until he is vindicated at the end.

I suspect that this was the only plot Percy Keese Fitzhugh knew how to write. His Tom Slade series is a paean to it. But if he only did one thing, he did it well. The Tom Slade series is my favorite boys’ series. None of the several companion series have the same self-righteous (but not sulky) angst that the Tom Slade books do. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Otterbury Incident

February 20, 2008

Because home is in New York and School is in Pennsylvania, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on trains lately. And I should probably use that time for work, but somehow I fond it difficult to do anything at all when on trains. I’m perfectly happy to stare out the window for an hour at a time. So the books that I’ve been bringing with me for my train rides have been very frivolous: The Westing Game, Slippy McGee (Marie Conway Oemler’s books continue to fill me with glee), The Otterbury Incident

The Otterbury Incident is the one I really wanted to talk about. It’s been one of my favorite books for years — I’m not really sure how long, exactly. For people who haven’t read the book, the most interesting thing about it will be that it was written by Cecil Day-Lewis, who was the Poet Laureate of England from 1968 to 1972, and who also happened to be the father of Daniel Day-Lewis. For those who have read the book, all that is kind of irrelevant. It’s just too good for any outside factors to be very important. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Elsie’s Womanhood

February 7, 2008

Elsie’s Womanhood is kind of bizarre and segmented. First there’s the bit where Elsie and Mr. Travilla tell everyone that they’re engaged, and the reactions are an entertaining mix of not at all surprised and disturbed by the age difference. Which, you know, was pretty much my reaction too. This bit also includes Elsie’s uncle Arthur — you know, the one who set Tom Jackson on her — telling her that he wouldn’t mind marrying her himself. It’s as if the fact that her father has allowed her to become engaged has left a vaguely incestuous blank that desperately needed to be filled. And now that’s been done, so let’s move on. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Elsie’s Girlhood

February 6, 2008

When Elsie’s Girlhood begins, Elsie and her father are traveling with Rose Allison and her brother Edward. Rose had paid a visit to the Dinsmores at Roselands before Mr. Dinsmore returned from Europe, and because they were the only two serious Christians in the house — not counting the slaves, of course — they became very good friends. And since Mr. Dinsmore is now an avid Christian too, and because Rose is very attractive, and because something needs to be done to save him from the designing Miss Stevens, they fall in love and get engaged. Elsie is very pleased, and gladly promises to call Rose “mamma”.

So Mr. Dinsmore and Rose get married and go back to The Oaks, and they and Elsie live very happily together. One day Elsie comes downstairs for breakfast or something and finds her father sitting there alone.

Elsie: Where is mamma?

Mr. D: Oh, upstairs. But look at what I’ve got here!

Elsie: A baby! But where did it come from?

Mr. D: It’s your brother!
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Elsie Dinsmore and Holidays at Roselands

January 31, 2008

Okay, I should really be working on this week’s assignment for my thesis class, but first I need to talk a little about Elsie Dinsmore.

It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m writing my thesis on old children’s books — girls’ series, mostly from the early 20th century — and this week I’ve been reading the first couple of Elsie Dinsmore books. The Elsie books were written my Martha Finley and ran from 1867 to 1905. There are 28 books, but Elsie is a grandmother by book eight. Actually a grandmother, as opposed to behaving like a grandmother, which she does right from the beginning.
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The Little Colonel Series: the first four books

December 22, 2007

So, it’s been a while, huh? But I plan on updating more often now.

It’s hard to know where to start, because I’ve read kind of a lot of stuff since I last updated regularly. Why don’t we start with The Little Colonel series, and how I never knew that it existed, or that it’s really awesome?

I think “The Little Colonel” probably means “Shirley Temple” to most people, but I haven’t seen the movie in years, and all I really remember is the bit with Bojangles dancing on the stairs, so I came to the books with few expectations.

The Little Colonel is sort of the basic children’s story, a shorter, girls’ version of Little Lord Fauntleroy minus some sophistication and plus a basis in fact. Apparently Annie Fellows Johnston actually knew a girl — Hattie Cochran — who, like Lloyd Sherman, shared the mannerisms of her one-armed Confederate veteran grandfather. You can read more about it at the Little Colonel website, but I wouldn’t. Knowing that most of the characters are thinly disguised portraits of people who later married the wrong people or committed suicide is kind of upsetting. Read the rest of this entry ?

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What do you think might be the best book title ever?

November 26, 2007

I’m pretty sure I’ve never come across one better than Shirley Temple and the Screaming Specter.
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