Monday, August 18, 2008

Nancy Drew Week, Day 1

Welcome to Nancy Drew week, celebrating our fabulous teen sleuth friend, Nancy Drew!

Today: Fun facts, plus recollections from Sarai and KB.
Tuesday: Kim's recollections and review of The Clue in the Old Diary, I review Nancy's Mysterious Letter, and Ellen reveals the secret of the slush piles.
Wednesday: Part 1 of a surprise interview, more ramblings of mine, and giveaway details!
Thursday: Part 2 of surprise interview, Kim reviews The Spider Sapphire Mystery, and Tracy's mystery contribution.
Giveaway! Comment at any time this week and you're entered to win a $15 gift certificate to a bookstore of your choice that's not Amazon, a funky Nancy Drew tote, or a signed copy of  the fun-filled Nancy Drew "Clues for Real Life" book. If you contributed to--or if you pimp  Nancy Drew week, you get  an extra entry!  

Fun facts about Nancy and her gang
* Compiled with the help of Wikipedia, my vague memory, and Nancy Drew Consultant Jennifer Fisher (find her--and a ton of Nancy info at this awesome website:

The books:
Edward Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew.

The first 56 titles in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series were published between 1930 and 1979 by Grosset & Dunlap. The credited author for all Nancy Drew titles is Carolyn Keene, but different authors worked on them—sometimes as many as three different people worked on a single book.

The first three books in the series: The Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase, and The Bungalow Mystery all debuted on April 28, 1930.

All about Nancy:
Our sensible, independent-minded teen sleuth Nancy Drew has solved over 500 cases!

Nancy is 16 in the early books, but her age was changed to 18 later on. You can kind of see why--in the books, she is graduated from high school, spends weekends with Ned at Emerson, and gets into life-threatening situations all the time.

Nancy’s mother died when Nancy was ten in the early books, but it was revised to her dying when Nancy was three later on.

Consultant Fisher points out that in the early books, Nancy often wore glamorous heels and fashionable frocks while chasing suspects, climbing ladders, and sleuthing for “ghosts” in secret passageways. Click here for an entertaining "through the ages" look at Nancy's looks.

Nancy's hair color is usually described as "red-gold" or "titian blond.” I never really got what titian meant, and it always bugged me, but I was too lazy to look it up. But I looked it up this week. Titian means a reddish-brown or golden-brown color, and it’s derived from an Italian painter, Tiziano Vecellio.

Nancy Drew packed heat, according to Fisher, carrying her father Carson Drew’s revolver in two early mysteries—the 1930 text of The Hidden Staircase and the 1931 text of The Secret at Shadow Ranch. Fisher points out that in contrast, in the 1965 Nancy Drew book, The Spider Sapphire Mystery, when confronted with guns, Nancy and her pal George Fayne tossed them into a brook.

The gang:
Nancy’s two close friends, George Fayne and Bess Marvin, are cousins.

George is short for Georgia in the revised editions, but she was named for her grandfather in the original editions. She is tall and slim, with short black hair, and made being a tomboy look cool. Early in the series, George Fayne is described as bold, slightly clumsy, blunt, and forward, resulting in the nickname "George the Terrible" from series fans. According to Jennifer Fisher, George’s favorite catch phrase was “Hypers!” (Like—Wow!)

Bess (short for Elizabeth) Marvin is slightly plump with luxurious set hair (but not clearly described as blonde until 1936) Bess has the most girlish appearance and attitude of the three, and loves to talk about boys. Bess tries to be proper, and is also easily frightened — once wrecking a car simply because she saw something unusual. One of Bess’ favorite foods was a gooey chocolate fudge sundae.

Nancy’s father, widower Carson Drew, is the most respected lawyer in River Heights. He assists Nancy on many cases and guides her in the right direction. He also looks up things for her because of the access he has to many files. He never seems to get very upset about Nancy’s peril, in my memory. His attitude is usually that of, “That’s my girl!”

Ned Nickerson, Nancy’s boyfriend, has been described as “tall, handsome, and athletic looking, with wavy dark hair, a ready smile, and brown eyes.” (The Mysterious Letter). Ned’s always excited to help with Nancy’s mysteries, and frequently finds clues dropping in his lap. He’s a star football player at Emerson college, and frequently invites Nancy up for dances and weekends. Bess’ and George’s boyfriends, Dave Evans and Burt Eddelton, attend Emerson, too. They also play football, but they’re on the second string. In some books, the descriptions of football games can go for pages!

Housekeeper Hannah: Nobody knows what the Drews' housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, actually looks like; she has never been described in any of the books. In the early stories, Hannah is depicted as Nancy’s servant, and follows her directives down to uniform appearance, menus and groceries. As the role of the middle-class and their servants changed, Hannah became more a member of the family, like Alice on the Brady Bunch.

River Heights: The Drew family lives in a three-story brick house in the fictional town of River Heights. According to Fisher, collectors and scholars have long argued that a basis for River Heights may be found in Iowa, Ohio, Illinois and even New Jersey, home of famous "Carolyn Keene," Harriet Stratemeyer Adams.

Nancy Drew and I go way back!
by Katie(babs)

My earliest memory of Nancy and me is around nine years old and reading The Hidden Staircase, which is actually the second book in the series. Soon after I would go back to the first book, The Secret of the Old Clock. By the time I was a freshman in high school I had read all 56 of the original series and went on to read the newer ones that equaled to 172 books. Even though these short, less than 200 page books where written over 70 years ago, Nancy Drew still stands the test of time. She was the epitome of "girl power!", a woman who can accomplish anything if she put her mind to it. She was always surrounded by wonderful friends and family, including a boyfriend who treated her with respect and love. Nancy was beloved by all and was able to solve any crime, big or small in a matter of a few days.

Carolyn Jean's idea for a Nancy Drew week couldn't have come at a more perfect time. I was in a quandary because I had no clue what type of birthday gift to give my cousin, who was turning nine years old. When CJ posted about her love for Nancy, a light bulb went off in my head! Why not give a few Nancy Drew books as a birthday gift? I quickly went to the closest Barnes and Noble, and in the Young Adult/ Kids section was almost every single Nancy Drew book that was ever published. There were too many rows of Nancy Drew to count, more so than any other series book I could see. I couldn't help smiling as I picked up both, The Secret of the Hidden Clock and The Hidden Staircase, which still has those old fashioned vintage covers that I remember from over 20 years ago. I was holding a piece of my childhood in my hands and a precious memory I didn't want to let go. I had to hold back from buying every single one of those Nancy Drew titles.

Because I had a few days before I would give these books away, I couldn't help myself and began reading The Secret of the Old Clock. I felt like I was coming home. I hoped that my cousin would feel the same way I did. When I finally gave her the books, I held my breath, hoping she wouldn't roll her eyes. As she unwrapped the package, her eyes lit up and she was so excited to finally read Nancy Drew. I could breathe again. The next day we would see each other again because of another party. She was quick to give me another hug and mentioned how much she loved her present. She started reading, The Hidden Staircase and wanted to act the scenes and pretend to be Nancy Drew.

The Nancy Drew Mysteries are the perfect books to hand down from generation to generation. Knowing that I was able to introduce another person to this treasure is a gift within itself. Hopefully when my cousin has a daughter or another child in her life who is of the perfect age to start reading, she will remember my present and will give her a few editions of Nancy Drew and share the love of reading, much like I have done with her.

Find Katie(babs) at Ramblings on Romance, as well as a lot of other sites.

Random Thoughts on Nancy Drew

by Sarai

Okay, first off this was a girl that solved mysteries and not just any mysteries but ones that could end up with her dead or hurt. I thought she was so cool. She was so cool in fact I used to go around trying to solve "Mysteries" around my neighborhood. My neighbors, God love them, were mainly old so they would humor me. I still have my collection of old mysteries lying around the house. I had the whole yellow book collection and of course after that I went out and bought all of the Hardy boys (they were blue in case anyone cares), mainly b/c Nancy would sometimes make an appearance.

Those were fun times. 
And do you guys remember all the times she traveled? I mean for Crap Sakes the girl was always going somewhere far away from home to solve mysteries. (Probably b/c all the thieves and killers were scared of the little shit, I mean think about it if every time you even thought about a heist near her you’d probably break out in cold sweats. The girl was that good.) I wished as a kid I could do all that traveling. And what’s worse, she would travel for fun then ruin the vaca by finding a mystery to solve. (Seriously girl, just once relax on the beach.) 
Oh and what about Bess and George? I mean, I would so be one. They got the free trips and all the great bonuses without any of the effort or work. Seriously how could you go wrong with that?

Okay moving on to my favorite Nancy Drew book: The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes. And once again Nancy is flying to another place far away, this time Scotland—and her dad feeling bad for her, he allows George and Bess to join (seriously my dad would been like you are SOL— get used to life sucking.)

Needless to say, I don’t remember everything but as usual Nancy got the bad guys and a nice pat on the back. Man I loved those mysteries. In fact, I think that is why I still watch Scooby Doo to this day b/c they always get the bad guys in the end.

Find Sarai at Thoughts of an Aspiring Writer, Sarai is Reading What? and elsewhere.

The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes: The blurb
Warnings not to go to Scotland can't stop Nancy Drew from setting out on a thrill-packed mystery adventure. Undaunted by the vicious threats, the attractive young detective, with her father and her two best friends, goes to visit her great-grandmother at an imposing estate in the Scottish Highlands, and to solve the mystery of a missing family heirloom.

And there is another mystery to be solved: the fate of flocks of stolen sheep. Baffling clues challenge Nancy's powers of deduction: a note written in the ancient Gaelic language, a deserted houseboat on Loch Lomond, a sinister red-bearded stranger in Edinburgh, eerie whistling noises in the Highlands. Startling discoveries in an old castle and in the ruins of a prehistoric fortress, on a rugged mountain slope and in a secluded glen, lead Nancy closer to finding the solutions to both mysteries.

Wearing a time-honored tartan, Nancy climbs the mountain of Ben Nevis in the dark of night and plays a tune historic heroism on the bagpipes -- all part of her daring plan to trap the sheep thieves and to recover the valuable family heirloom.


Katie Reus said...

Trying this one more time, cyberspace ate my last comment....why is it that Carolyn Keene is credited w/ all the ND books? Did you find any cool reason why in your research?

Julie P. said...

Carolyn Keene is a pen name for a bunch of authors of the Nancy Drew series! There's a very interesting book about it called Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak.

It's ironic that Nancy Drew Week started today. It's my daughter's 9th birthday and I'm giving her the entire set of books tonight!

Carolyn Jean said...

KR: I was thinking the writers were just hired, so that it would be a work-for-hire creation. And I bet some clues are in the book Julie recommends below!

Julie: Thanks for visiting and the book lead! And I can't think of a more wonderful gift than that set. I hope your girl has a great day.

Sarai said...

Wow so talk about total randomness (is that even a word?) HOLY CRAP Katie's post was way cooler then my scattered thoughts dang it!

Anyway thanks CJ for doing this fun week. I can't wait to see what is going on the rest of the week!

Vicki said...

I love Nancy Drew. Growing up I wanted to be like her or Trixie Bleden. :)

Carolyn Jean said...

Sarai, Oh, stop! You have such a fun voice in yours, I wouldn't want you to change it at all!

Vicki: I wanted to be Nancy or George.

kim said...

Nancy Drew books pulled the trigger of my reading addiction.

My mom has some of the originals, next time I am home I want to read those again. I found them hard to read as a ten year old, so I only read revised editions after my first failed attempt. Hopefully my language skillz have improved since then!

Katiebabs said...

Awww Sarai, your story is so cute!
Why, my name should have been Nancy because I am a blondish redhead who can solve crimes with her best buds. :PI never knew Carolyn Keene was multipls people!

Sarai said...

I didn't know it either. I thought it was all written by one woman whoops. LOL!

Katiebabs said...

The secret is out! I can no longer keep it quiet! I am the author of Nancy Drew going on age 98.

Carolyn Jean said...

Kim: Wow, your mom has some originals? They could be worth a lot now!

Sarai: Certainly a logical conclusion.

KB: You may have reddish hair, but I have brown hair, and my name, Carolyn Jean...coincidence?

Liza said...

I have one of my mom's original Nancy Drew's. We lost many of my children's books in a house fire years ago. I've replaced most of my books, but still have most of the Nancy Drew books to replace.

lisabea said...

You had me at Kim is writing a review. I heart her big time. :)

Of course I'm completely outta the loop.

Ruby (Mouth) said...

I love the Nancy Drew books. They are sooo fun and entertaining.

kim said...

Oh Lord Almightly...the pressure.

Kim~ Is worried and thinking of sending revisions to CJ~

naida said...

*yay*!!! I've been reading 'The Ghost of Blackwood Hall'
to my daughter before bedtime. It's a fun story.

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

hi! I found you from Vicki's blog! And I have to say I was quite the Nancy Drew afficionado when I was growing up. In fact I was devastated that my mother gave away MY ENTIRE COLLECTION OF NANCY DREW BOOKS!!! I searched for years for them, to no avail. And then about 15 years ago, we were at my grandfather's funeral and staying at this Holiday Inn when early in the morning I got a call from my uncle who said he had a case of Nancy Drew books he wanted to give back to me--apparently my mother had given them to his 3 girls. So I got them all back in time for my girls to read them.
Fun fact: I incorporated a little Nancy Drew humor in Sleeping with Ward Cleaver ;-)

Carolyn Jean said...

Liza: Oh, so sorry you lost them. They have reissued the originals, but I know it wouldn't be the same.

RM: Agreed!

Naida: That's a great one.

SWWC: Hey, welcome. That's a great story. I hope they came back in okay shape. I read a great review of your book at Vicki's. Congrats!

Clair said...

I would love to win! I don't think I read much Nancy Drew as a child but the boys I know love listening to them read aloud and I find myself enjoying them.

robin_titan said...

oooh this is so cool of you!!

lc_intocable at

Tracy said...

Oh this is soooo wonderful! I love hearing the thoughts and remembrances of everyone!

Tracy said...

Oh and she was really packing heat in the first couple of books? Really? At 16! Wow - my dad wouldn't even let me use the letter opener! lol

Carolyn Jean said...

Clair and Robin: thanks for stopping by. You're entered.

Tracy: Nancy would be in juvenile hall by now in real life.

Carolyn Jean said...

Clair and Robin: thanks for stopping by. You're entered.

Tracy: Nancy would be in juvey hall by now in real life.

Sarah McQ said...

Since you enjoyed the Nancy Drew appearances in the old Hardy Boys, you might also consider looking for the more recent "Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mysteries". They're more recent paperbacks in which Nancy and the Hardys each start out on their own mysteries, only to discover(gasp!) that their cases are related. Regular appearances from George and Bess too, but less Ned, since there's also some great Nancy-Frank tension...

Carolyn Jean said...

SarahMQ, Well, this is news. Poor Ned! But I suppose Frank and Nancy would have more in common. Thanks for stopping by with that interesting tidbit!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I'm totally catching this at the end...but that's okay. I thought I'd share my thoughts. I've only read one Nancy Drew book back when I was in..the fifth grade, I believe. I forget the title at the moment...and too lazy to look it up! haha!!!...but I know it was about a diary.

Anyway, I really did enjoy it and I should read more Nancy Drew books. Reading everyone's stories, it makes me think of Harry Potter...which is what I grew up reading and loving. :)