A visit to the local used bookstore this past weekend got me all excited about books. Children’s books, specifically. When I tore myself away from the huge mystery section, I found myself in the children’s section. I scanned the shelves looking for all those loved childhood books, when my eyes lit on a bright yellow spine, just passed a row of bright blue spines.
Yep, you guessed it. A beautiful, yellow, hardbound Nancy Drew novel stuck next to the overwhelming supply of Hardy Boys books. As I read the titles on the spines of the Nancy Drew’s, I remembered spending hours reading the original series, the spin off meant for young readers, the Nancy Drew Case Files, and the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys super mysteries, many of which still grace my shelves. I loved following the young sleuth as she effortlessly (it seemed) extracted herself from dangerous positions and unmasked the killers/burgalers/evil-doers in about 100 pages.
In car on the way home, explaining to my partner why I had opted to buy a children’s book, and why I was going to proudly display it on our bookshelves, I realized I love much more than Nancy’s sleuthing. I loved that she was a sleuth. I loved that she was an independent girl, going out and doing. Along with faithful friends Bess and George, Nancy put her brains to work and solved case after case, without help from her lawyer dad (unless you count advice!) or any other ‘adults’. In short, she was awesome.
Finding Carolyn Keene’s sleuth in the used bookstore made me think back on some of the other childhood heroines I loved:
Anne, from Anne of Green Gables.
Laura, from Little House on the Prairie
Any of the Ann Rinaldi books (hello historical fiction!)
Just off the top of my head, and not including every Agatha Christie I could get my hands on (except for the scary ones!). These books were great — with headstrong female leads who had spunk and smarts, and had impacts on the world around them.
I hope these books are still around when (or if) I decide to have children, or when my family expands to include small children.