Posts Tagged ‘boys’

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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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Deering of Deal

September 20, 2007

Deering of Deal, by Latta Griswold, is one of the most adorable books I’ve ever read, but I’m going to have a hard time talking about it, because I know I shouldn’t be devoting more time to Reggie Carroll than to Tony Deering, who is, after all, the main character.

Tony is a cheerful but sensitive southern boy, who, like all of the men in his family before him, has been sent north to attend a fictional boarding school called Deal. His father and grandfather, by the way, are named Victor and Basil, respectively. I mention this only because I think the names Basil, Victor and Anthony are sort of in harmony with each other in a way that pleases me.
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Pee-Wee Harris and the Sunken Treasure

September 14, 2007

Pee-Wee Harris and the Sunken Treasure was pretty disappointing. But I shouldn’t have been expecting much — this is the first Pee-Wee Harris book I’ve read, but I’ve read a couple of the Roy Blakeley books, and it’s like Percy Keese Fitzhugh added a lot more jokes and thought no one would notice that he took out everything else. Oh well — at least the Pee-Wee Harris books have a third-person narrator.
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One Minute to Play

August 27, 2007

I picked up One Minute to Play in a used book store a month or so ago because I momentarily mistook Harold Sherman for Ralph Henry Barbour. They were both popular writers of sports stories, but it turns out that there’s an important difference: Ralph Henry Barbour knew how to write. Harold Sherman did not. I mean, it’s not like Barbour was all that great or anything, but Sherman, judging by this book, was really, really bad.
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Tom Slade on Mystery Trail

August 17, 2007

Usually when I read an old book I’ve bought, I think a little about what I’m going to write about it here. It’ a testament to how much I love the Tom Slade books that it wasn’t until I was practically done with Tom Slade on Mystery Trail that it occurred to me that I probably ought to post about it on my blog.

I first encountered Tom Slade and his author, Percy Keese Fitzhugh, in Tom Slade at Temple Camp, which was a gift from a friend, and he has since become my favorite boys’ series character. Fitzhugh wrote several other series about Tom’s boy scout friends, but Roy Blakeley, Pee-Wee Harris, and Westy Martin aren’t quite in Tom Slade’s league.

It’s hard to explain why Tom Slade is so cool. He’s sort of the strong, silent type, and he’s a little awkward with people sometimes. He’s the perfect boy scout, but he doesn’t always appear to be — like when he avoids saving a boy from drowning so that someone else can do it and get the badge awarded for saving someone’s life. He’s very low key, and I love that.

In Tom Slade on Mystery Trail, Tom isn’t the central character. He’s just helping out another boy, who, although he’s completely unlike Tom in personality, has that same selfless-boy-scout-honor thing going on. Hervey Willetts is one of those kids who obsesses over a project until it’s done and then forgets all about it. So his troop decides that he’s the ideal scot to win the Eagle badge — which, unlike today, simply involves winning 21 different other badges. But it’s just a few days until the Temple Camp awards ceremony, and Hervey is one badge short.

He almost got the tracking badge, but the tracks he was following were also being followed by Skinny McCord, the Bridgeboro troop’s newest — and weirdest — member. If Hervey claims the tracks, he gets the tracking badge and the Eagle badge. If Skinny does, he gets the tracking badge and becomes a second-class scout — pretty much the lowest honor there is, but Skinny’s really excited about it, so Hervey pretends he never saw the tracks and lets Skinny take the credit.

Hervey’s troop is really upset — they feel like he’s let them down, and they call him fickle because he says he doesn’t care about being an Eagle scout anymore. That’s because he’s been talking to Tom Slade, who understands that by the time a boy is a true Eagle scout, he doesn’t care about the honor anymore. It’s adorable, really. And then it turns out that Hervey has earned some kind of animal rescue badge without realizing it — because he never looks at his boy scout handbook — and is an Eagle scout after all, although no one would know if it weren’t for Tom Slade.

Also, there’s and oriole and a turtle who help Tom and Hervey rescue a kidnapped kid. But while that’s cute, the storyline about Hervey’s honor and self-sacrifice is even cuter.

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The G-Men Smash the “Professor’s” Gang

June 28, 2007

I feel like The G-Men Smash the “Professor’s” Gang(by William Engle), while an utterly fantastic title, shouldn’t be a hard one to live up to. I mean, as long as there are, you know, FBI agents, and someone called the Professor, and the former smash the latter’s gang, you can’t really go wrong.
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Cormorant Crag

June 25, 2007

Cormorant Crag, by George Manville Fenn, is the story of two young morons named Vince and Mike. They remind me very much of two young morons named Tom and Steve. Vince, like Tom, is not quite so much of an idiot as his friend, and Mike, like Steve, eventually learns to shut up and listen to his smarter, less dithery companion. Although Vince does quite a lot of dithering, too.

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Tom Swift in the City of Gold

June 18, 2007


I thought that it would be pretty difficult not to like a book containing a chapter called “Beware The Head-Hunters!” But then, I didn’t expect a Tom Swift book to make blatantly untrue statements about anything but science.

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The Golden Boys in the Maine Woods

June 18, 2007


I’d never heard of the Golden Boys before, but — well, I just had to get The Golden Boys in the Maine Woods. I think I’d better just transcribe the first paragraph:

The sun was hardly half way over the horizon when the door of a small log cabin some fifty feet from the shore of Moosehead Lake opened, and a boy about nineteen years old stepped out. He was dressed only in a pair of swimming trunks and his perfectly formed body, brown as a nut, made a pretty picture against the background of the cabin as he paused to draw into his lungs huge drafts of the spruce scented air. In a moment he was joined by another boy a little younger and not quite as tall, but no less beautifully developed.

The author is L.P. Wyman, Ph.D., Dean of the Pennsylvania Military College.

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Nelson the Newsboy

June 18, 2007


This week I finally got a chance to open a box of books that one of my uncles sent me during the winter. It included five Horatio Alger books, four of which I already had. That’s pretty weird, because I only had about twelve Algers, and he wrote about a hundred.

The one that I didn’t already have is Nelson the Newsboy. I don’t know how much of it Alger wrote, though. It’s one of several books left unfinished at Alger’s death and completed by Edward Stratemeyer under the name Arthur M. Winfield, which he also used for the Rover Boys series.
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Alger-related ramblings

May 23, 2007

I major in history at school, and I really like it. I don’t think I’d want to be an English major, and yet when I find myself trying to come up with topics for my thesis, all I can think about are books.

That’s why I spent my shower this morning thinking about an imaginary paper that I would barely need to do any additional research for about money and capitalism in Horatio Alger.

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Two Boys and a Fortune

May 6, 2007

So, there’s this family called the Pells. They live in a town called Marley just outside Philadelphia, and there are six of them: Mrs. Pell, fifteen-year-old twins Roy and Rex, two girls called Eva and Jess, and adoptive son Sydney, who is a grown man and a lawyer. They’re poor, and Rex bitches about it a lot. Rex is charming and selfish and feels bad about not being able to do entertain his friends in the style to which they’re accustomed. Roy only feels bad that he can’t do more to help out the family.
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Left End Edwards

March 27, 2007

Since I was pretty pleased with The New Boy at Hilltop, I decided to read another Ralph Henry Barbour, Left End Edwards. Now, either Barbour is better at short stories than novels, “Barbour” is a pseudonym for multiple people, some of whom could write better than others, or this book has no excuse for being stupid. I did try to figure out whether Barbour was a pseudonym — I got suspicious when the advertisements at the end of the book were all for Stratemeyer series — and I couldn’t find anything specific, but on the whole I think it wasn’t. Some of the other titles credited to Barbour seem to be romances, which makes it look like he was one guy with a couple of niches. There were certainly Stratemeyer pseudonyms that were credited with multiple series, but they tend to be in the same vein — Laura Lee Hope with “The Bobbsey Twins” and “Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue”, or Alice Emerson with “Ruth Fielding” and “Betty Gordon” — and they were all children’s books.

I’m quite willing to accept the excuse that he was better with short stories, but the fact remains that this book requires an excuse. See, there’s this idiot named Steve — a fifteen year old boy who’s supposed to be pretty good at football. And there’s his best friend, an idiot named Tom who’s only supposed to be okay at football but who does have an incredibly small amount of common sense, which is more than I can say for Steve.
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The New Boy at Hilltop

March 25, 2007

After all those Ruth Fielding books, I was kind of sick of girls, so I set out to find a fun boys’ book. I ended up reading The New Boy at Hilltop, and Other Stories, by Ralph Henry Barbour, except that I didn’t notice the subtitle at first, so I was kind of surprised when I got to what I thought was the second chapter and Kenneth Garwood wasn’t one of the characters. But it really is a boys’ book, so I’m not that disappointed.

Kenneth is the hero of the first story. He arrives at Hilltop, his new school, after Christmas, and is told by the principal that he’ll be rooming with Joseph Brewster, a model student. Ken is sure he’ll dislike Joe, and Joe is kind of upset when he gets back to school and finds that he has a roommate now. So of course they immediately get into a fight, and after that they’re friends.

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