Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trixie Belden: Maybe Not a Classic but Wonderful

So I'm a day late blogging for this month's Children's Classics Carnival over at 5 Minutes for Books.

And, while I don't think anyone would consider them classics, I am going to talk about Trixie Belden. I had to work it in sometime, right?

Now, regular readers of the blog might have figured out by now that I love these books just a little bit. Okay, quite a bit. On the surface, they aren't anything special. The series stars 13-year-old Trixie Belden as she solves mysteries with the help of her two older brothers and their friends. The series started in 1948, making it one of many series from that era with a similar concept. The final book in the series was written in 1986. While the first six were written by creator Julie Campbell, she sold the rights to the characters after that and the rest were written by various ghost writers under the pen name Katheryn Kenny.

So, what makes these books so incredibly special to me all these years later? The characters. Honestly, if you jump into the series with a random book, it will be fairly confusing since there are so many main and minor characters who continue through the series. Yet once you've read enough books, they become second nature. And they create a rich tapistry.

Trixie has three brothers, Oldest Brian, Mart who is just 11 months older, and Bobby who is six. They live in a farm about an hour from New York City outside a village called Sleepyside on the Hudson. Next door live the Wheelers. While the Beldens are poor, the Wheelers are rich. Yet Trixie and Honey have become best friends. Honey's parents have also adopted Jim Frayne. Rounding out the main cast of teens are Diana Lynch, a friend of Trixie's who has suddenly become rich as well, and Dan Mangan, a former gang member who lives with the Wheeler's gamekeeper in their preserve.

The quality of the books varies from volume to volume. But even when the characters aren't behaving properly and the plot is weak, I still enjoy spending time with these friends.

And these characters work hard. Starting after Julie Campbell left the series, they regularly put on fundraisers to help various charities. They even give away any rewards they get for solving their cases. True, there is the sneaking around to solve the case at hand (a standard device of most books I read as a kid and still read today), but other then that, these are moral, upstanding characters.

These books have really impacted my life as an adult. I'm a member of two message boards devoted to the series. I have made many wonderful friends over the course of the last decade thanks to them. I've been able to go to many of the conventions we hold, basically an excuse to hang out together somewhere in the country. And yes, this is even the group I joined for Disney World last September. And it is how I met my friend Angelique.

Random House owns the rights to the characters these days, and they rereleased the first 15 of the books, but those seem to have stopped due to poor sales. Still, you can often find these books in your library or bookstore.

Now I seriously doubt anyone would look at them and seriously call them classics, but they had a huge impact on my life and continue to do so. And I just can't pass up an opportunity to plug them.

5 comments:

5M4M Contests said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Since they ARE still around in this uncertain publishing world, that is a classic.

I have one of the copies of one of the original first six in the series from the 50's that was my mom's. I also had volumes and volumes of the ones that I read voraciously in the 70's.

I tried to "make" my daughter read one, and she declared it "boring." She was maybe too young at the time, so since 5th grade was the time that I read about one a week, I might "make" her try again now that she's in 5th grade.

(I added your link to the Linky by the way. Thanks for putting it in the comments, and that comment above was me, but logged in wrong)

Mark said...

Thanks for adding me to Mr. Linky.

I didn't find the books until I was in 7th Grade. I sure hope it takes this time when you try them with your daughter.

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