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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, February 06, 2006

Nostalgic Reads

by Colleen Gleason

A few weeks ago when the Wet Noodle Posse was putting together our Top Ten Faves for February (best lines by a hero in a book or movie), our discussion somehow expanded to our favorite book and movie heroes, then our favorite book and movie heroes of our youth, and then our favorite reads of our youth.

Aha! I thought. A great blog topic.

Of course many of us had read the same books: Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden (my favorite), Anne of Green Gables, the Little House books, etc. But there were lots of favorites that many of us hadn't heard of. So I'm going to list a few of mine and I'll be interested in knowing whether anyone else out there read them....

The Three Investigators series, starring Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews. The original Scooby gang--but without the girls. More fun than the Hardy Boys by far! Their clubhouse was hidden in a junkyard and could only be entered by following cryptic messages, like "Green Gate One" (which meant to enter through the secret door in the part of a fence that was painted green).

These three guys had business cards that said "The Three Investigators: We investigate anything." The mysteries were clever, and even now, as I am reading them to my younger children, I find them intriguing.

Alas, the books are now out of print. The only place you can find them is on eBay, or you can head over to Seth Smolinske's Web site and see what he has for sale.

I also enjoyed The Mad Scientists Club, written by Bertrand R. Brinley, and its follow-up, The New Adventures of the Mad Scientists Club. These were stories about a club of boys--probably six or seven of them--who had a great time playing pranks on people and on their town.

One of the first stories was about the Monster on Strawberry Lake. They decided to make the legend come to life and used a canvas-covered motorboat to create a Loch-Ness kind of monster. Unfortunately, it worked all too well, and the city called in the Navy to help find out what was going on!

These collections of stories were out of print until Purple House Press (a small press that specializes in bringing nostalgic children's books back into print) rereleased them in hardcover with great dustjackets. I own the new reprints, and also a third one, which had never been released originally.

I've never met anyone else who read the Willard Price books. Cannibal Adventure, Amazon Adventure, Safari Adventure, Gorilla Adventure, etc. They were published in England, I think, and are about two boys whose father is a zoologist.

They go on trips with him and there is always some kind of mystery to solve, and a lot of information about animals and the environment in which the story takes place. I read these books over and over again. I've been able to find a few of them on eBay...but I'm still looking for a hardcover version of Cannibal Adventure.

I did read some girly books too!

My mom got me into Rosamund du Jardin's books (set in the '50s; a little before my time, but, then I was a Grease fan too!). Anyone else remember those? They are now being reprinted by a different small press called Image Cascade. I read all the Tobey & Midge Heydon series, and the Marcy Rhodes series.

And then there were the Sue Barton nurse books! I loved those, because she had red hair like I always wanted to have. And she always had such hot guys after her! There were mysteries galore, and we learned a lot more about nursing then we did with the Cherry Ames series (which I read too).

Finally, what about Phyllis A. Whitney's young adult books? My very favorite was Step to the Music. The classic romance set during the Civil War, in which the heroine falls in love with the charming younger brother, who goes off to fight for the South...but eventually learns that the older, more gruff and brooding one, who enlists in the Yankee Army, is really the one for her.

Sigh. I think I'm going to have to hit eBay again to find some of these older reads. They are worth enjoying again as an adult!

I'm interested to hear about any other books you loved when you were younger. And if anyone has a hard cover copy of Cannibal Adventure, you know where to find me!


At 1:56 PM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Oh, Colleen - my fave growing up was the Witch of Blackbird Pond!!!

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Colleen Gleason said...

Ohhh, yes! I remember that one! My daughter has it (hasn't read it yet; I think she thought it was going to be like Harry Potter! LOL!).

I loved it too!

At 4:14 PM, Blogger Kiki, aka Esri said...

"And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for you darn kids!"

Nope. Never read any of these. I was a Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew gal.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Jennie Lucas said...

Love the pictures, Colleen! What a well-read kid you were, and what cool books! (Although it does seem unfair that the boys are all jungle explorers, detectives and mad scientists, while the girls are looking pretty and caring for the sick! Unfair!)

You should thank your mom for helping you become a published author by exposing you early to the delights of genre fiction. =)

At 8:12 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Neat post, Colleen. My favorites were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I'm planning to read them again. I also liked Julie of the Wolves, the Swiss Family Robinson and Island of the Blue Dolphins.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Colleen Gleason said...

Oh, Julie of the Wolves reminds me of My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George. I can't believe I forgot to mention that one! I must have read it ten times.

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

Holy Cow, I'd forgotten about the Willard Price books. I grew up in New Zealand and devoured those books. I wish I could find them now.

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Colleen Gleason said...

oooh, Alex, you can get the paperbacks on eBay! They sell them in bunches, usually. I got most of them in paperback; I'm just holding out for a few more in hardcover.

So glad you stopped by! I was afraid I was the only one who'd read them!

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Norah said...

OMG, Colleen! I never read the Willard Price books, but I did read the "Bomba the Jungle Boy" books by Roy Rockwood. After seeing the great covers you posted I had to go searching for some of the Rockwood book covers. Found 'em here:

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

My kids loved the Mad Scientists club. Choose your own adventure books were a huge hit with them, too, as well as The Magic Bicycle.

I was a Nancy Drew/Cherry Ames/Donna Parker girl myself.


At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Stephanie Feagan said...

I was a horse freak - all the Black Stallion books, and My Friend Flika and Where the Red Fern Grows - which come to think of it, was a dog book, wasn't it? I loved My Side of the Mountain - I wanted to run away and live in the mountains after I read that.

I discovered love stories pretty early on. I loved Christy and Mrs. Mike. Then I found Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and the rest of the Bronte sisters' books. Gone With the Wind - I read it when I was 12 and was hooked on history and romance. Oh, and Dragonwyck got me into Gothics. I devoured all of Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney.

*sigh* I do love to read, so much! I imagine myself finally retiring, living in a retirement home and reading until it's time to go.

Thanks for the memories, Colleen!


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