Friday, February 16, 2007

Wandering The Kids Section...

I love kids’s books. I really do.
I am at Chapters, writing this, and I just did a tour of the kids's section.
I wish I were a kid.
There are so many cool series out there nowadays!
Like, who’s this Garth Nix guy? The series looks awesome.
Or the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky. I would read this, I swear!
Even the Lemony Snickett stuff!
I want to be a kid again.

As I wandered, I noticed down on the lowest shelf, an entire section devoted to The Hardy Boys series.
I loved these books when I was a youngster. Looking at them a few minutes ago brought back many memories. The cover art is the same as it’s been for the past 300 years! Truth is, I love the datedness of it.
The fact that these books are still in print is remarkable. Simon & Schuster publishes several new volumes each year, [updated themes, involving motobikes and computers and whatnot], but the Grosset & Dunlap reprints of the original 60 or so books (known to collectors as the Hardy Boys "Canon") still are wildly popular.
I always thought it was so cool that the original author was a Canadian.
A good old Ontarian, like me!
His name was Leslie McFarlane [died in 1977] and while there are other authors that continued working on the series, it was McFarlane that established the writing style that made the books so successful.
He wrote 21 volumes of The Hardy Boys, initiated The Dana Girls series and wrote seven Dave Fearless novels.
The covers of the books attribute authorship to Franklin W. Dixon, but this is just a pseudonym for a non-existent person. To really understand the history of the whole thing, one must know about The Stratemeyer Syndicate [named after founder Edward Stratemeyer].
Stratemeyer was a writer himself but found that he had too many ideas, and not enough time on his hands to write the resultant books. In other words, he would outline the plots and then hire a team [known as “ghosts” or “ghostwriters”] to flesh out his ideas and essentially write the books. They would be paid a flat fee with no hope of future royalties.
Remember the Nancy Drew series?
Same deal.
The covers say Carolyn G. Keene is the author.
Carolyn G. Keene does not exist.
Same thing. The Stratemeyer Syndicate!
Recently, May wrote a blog about The Hardy Boys and she said she could “still remember the reassuring atmosphere of those stories, a world where the source of any fear was clearly identifiable and fought with success. Those were good times!”
They were good times, I agree.
For me, as a child, I was severely addicted to the Famous Five and Secret Seven series, by British author Enid Blyton.
I think that May is right, they were good times. And because I still read so much, they still are.
Good times.
I believe there are few things that we can give our children [not that I personally have any] that are more valuable, in a lasting sense, than a well-stocked bookshelf!
My parents never thwarted or ridiculed my innate love of books, and for this I am ever grateful.
OK, enough with the nostalgia.
I’m “getting verklempt” as Linda Richmond might say!
I’ve got to get out of here before I go and buy a copy of Charlotte’s Web.

***********

3 comments:

Cold Molasses said...

Ah yes...the Hardy Boys. On my last visit to my parents' house, I took the 10-12 Hardy Boy books I had as a child to put in my current library. Will I ever read them again? Likely not, but there is something "pure" about those old classic series. Let me know if you'd like to borrow a few Cip!

cipriano said...

I will keep your Lending Library in mind Cold Mol.
In fact... I am supposed to be at your house right now, I just retrieved my phone messages.
Do you have the one Hardy Boys book entitled, The Curse of the Guy That Did Not Watch The NBA All-Stars Game With His Buddies on Saturday Night?

That's the one I need to be reading about now, am I right?
-- Cip

Cold Molasses said...

Yes Cip...and in that book, Chet winds up getting the girl from Joe...whoa is the life of a teenage sleuth in Bayport. Alas, at least Joe still had his brother and friends...because he got together with them to hang out and watch mindless sports occasionally!