To the left is an earlier cover - the above one is the one I read, likely published in the 1950s. I spent a great deal of time reading most of the series as a kid growing up in the 1970s, and it amazes me that kids are still reading these today, over 80 years later.
My elementary school library was one of my favorite places, and there was a dark little nook in the back left side where all the Nancy Drew books were located on the bottom shelf. So the whole series reminds me of that place I loved, as well as the Media Specialist who had such a great impact on me that I became a Librarian! These stories were probably the beginning of my love for mysteries as well, and now that I think of it, my fascination with the game CLUE.
So most people now know that 'Carolyn Keene" was merely a pseudonym, and the man who created 'Nancy Drew' was Edward Stratemeyer (and his famous Stratemeyer Syndicate who employed ghostwriters for series fiction). Stratemeyer died about 2 weeks after The Secret of the Old Clock was published in 1930. So who actually wrote the books? Well, after some googling, I came across a book that I now MUST READ! See the second link below. In all, there were 8 ghostwriters who penned these classics.
14 Fun Facts About Nancy Drew
Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her
"I've loved The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf since I was a little girl. It was the special favorite of my younger sister, Laura, and I can't read the book without thinking of her. Ferdinand's primary wish, to sit "just quietly" and smell the flowers, validated my own need to spend lots of time by myself, outside, doing not much of anything. Ferdinand does his own thing, doesn't shrink from the aggressors or judge them, he merely meets them with his own strong pacifism; the epitome of quiet strength. And of course, there is the understanding mother ("even though she is a cow") which delighted me as a child and today. When my children were little I could not wait to share the book with them and was happy to discover they loved it as much as I did. I continue to share "The Story of Ferdinand" in storytimes and it is one of those books that never fails to capture the children's attention. The tale is gentle, but exciting, and creates just that right about of tension that makes a picture book work so well. Combined with Robert Lawson's charming illustrations (despite being black and white), you have a book speaks to the world of the child and also captures their imagination."
Patty added some interesting factoids about this classic:
The book was released nine months before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War,
and was seen by many supporters of Francisco Franco as a pacifist book. It was banned in many countries, including in Spain. In Nazi Germany,
Adolf Hitler ordered the book burned, while Joseph Stalin, the leader of the
Soviet Union, granted it privileged status as the only non-communist children's
book allowed in Poland. India's leader Mahatma Ghandi called it his favorite book.
From the New York Times, Pamela Paul:In 1938, Walt Disney created a short animated cartoon of the story, which went on to win
– deservedly – an Oscar for Best Animated Short Subject (Cartoons)
(This last bit is interesting since the Oscars are around the corner. )
Still on Amazon's list of best selling children's books!
You can even watch the Walt Disney short on YouTube:
So I have to mention my runner-up / Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright. I remember reading this as a young girl and really loving it. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for my daughter's experience. We tried to read this lovely story of growing up on a farm in Depression-era Wisconsin together, but we only made it a few chapters in. I have to admit, there isn't alot of action and it doesn't hold up as well as Nancy Drew 80+ years later. But I still love the main character Garnet, and all it's thimble magic.