rubyscarlett: Millie in The Bletchley Circle (Default)
[personal profile] rubyscarlett
Hi everyone,

I'm currently reading Autumn Term by Antonia Forest (the first in the Marlow series) for the first time. It's incredibly good - her writing especially is gorgeous. I checked the availability of other titles in the series and was sad to learn that they're all out of print. Since the price of each varies wildly, I was wondering if you had any recommendations for titles I should really read over the rest. I don't have much money at the moment so I'm thinking of purchasing the most loved titles first and then complete the collection later when I'm back in the cash.

The same goes for the Chalet School books - any particular titles you would recommend? I've read the first four (School, Jo of, Princess and Head Girl).

Fill-ins and sequels recs are most welcome too!

Thank you :)
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra

By Lizzie Skurnick, 448 pages Avon A (July 21, 2009)

Publishers Weekly review:

Launched from her regular feature column Fines Lines for, this spastically composed, frequently hilarious omnibus of meditations on favorite YA novels dwells mostly among the old-school titles from the late '60s to the early '80s much beloved by now grown-up ladies. This was the era, notes the bibliomaniacal Skurnick in her brief introduction, when books for young girls moved from being wholesome and entertaining (e.g., The Secret Garden and the Nancy Drew series) to dealing with real-life, painful issues affecting adolescence as depicted by Beverly Cleary, Lois Duncan, Judy Blume, Madeleine L'Engle and Norma Klein. Skurnick groups her eruptive essays around themes, for example, books that feature a particularly memorable, fun or challenging narrator (e.g., Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy); girls on the verge, such as Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret or danger girls such as Duncan's Daughters of Eve; novels that deal with dying protagonists and other tragedies like child abuse (Willo Davis Roberts's Don't Hurt Laurie!); and, unavoidably, heroines gifted with a paranormal penchant, among other categories. Skurnick is particularly effective at spotlighting an undervalued classic (e.g., Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase) and offers titles featuring troubled boys as well. Her suggestions will prove superhelpful (not to mention wildly entertaining) for educators, librarians and parents.
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
Yes, someone has written one:

Nancy Drew comes up as well, in the long and interesting article plus interview with Miriam Forman-Brunell, the author of Babysitter: An American History, that is up on salondotcom today.

So much interesting history here, that I for one, didn't know:

[ "I was surprised that some girls even formed baby-sitting unions.

In the years right after the war ends, when the baby boom really begins to soar, parents are desperate for baby sitters. These baby sitters really have developed a sense of themselves as being workers. And they have a sense of what is acceptable to expect of a worker and what isn't.

In various parts of the country they begin to organize these informal unions. Girls get together to draw up a code in terms of what's the minimum wage, what can their employers expect of them. Basically identifying the do's and the don'ts.

The unions don't last. And one of the reasons is that that kind of worker solidarity, agency and empowerment is something squelched during the 1950s, in light of fears about communism, and replaced by notions of domesticity and femininity." ]

The comments by salondotcom readers reveal, as one of the letter writers observes, the same sort of gender bias that the book discusses.

al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
Women who grew up to become influential political figures, attorneys, writers and directors of television and movies speak of who Nancy Drew was for them, growing up.

This is a piece in the New York Times -- which, of course, is slotted into the Fashion and Style section, not the Sunday Book Review section!

From the second 'page':

[ "And let it not be said that Nancy Drew readers must be cut off when they reach 11. Roslynn R. Mauskopf, 52, a federal judge in Brooklyn, inhaled the books as a girl in Washington, D.C.

“I was a daughter of two Holocaust survivors, and no one would ever let you out of the house with a flashlight and a roadster!” Judge Mauskopf said. Nancy Drew proved “you could go out, go anywhere, do anything and make a difference.”

After law school, Judge Mauskopf joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. A young Sonia Sotomayor was just down the hall. Ms. Mauskopf, a career prosecutor, became United States Attorney for the Eastern District.

Shortly after she was named to the federal bench in October 2007, she bought a set of classic Nancy Drew books, volumes 1 through 15. Age notwithstanding, she is in the middle of reading them now
." ]

The article also quotes two people I know, Melanie Rehak, who wrote Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, met during the Fellowship year at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and Lisa Von Drasek, children’s librarian at the Bank Street College of Education.

rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
[personal profile] rosefox
I just stumbled on this entry of mine from a couple of years ago, which is perhaps not 100% Girlyconnish--it's much more about me than about books, in the end--but might be of interest to people here. This is the looking-at-books bit:
[ profile] sylvanus_urban pointed me at a very thoughtful review of A Little Princess which makes most of the points I would make, except for one. I left a comment there and decided to expand on it further.

One of the key relationships in the book is between Sara Crewe and a maidservant known simply as Becky. When they meet, Sara is 10 going on 11 and Becky is about 14. Sara is the child of wealth; Becky is one step up from the gutter. When Sara falls suddenly upon hard times, on her 11th birthday, she is sent to live in the garret next to Becky's and to share in her chores. Nonetheless, Becky continues to treat her as a member of the upper classes, a treatment that Sara graciously accepts and repays as well as she can (though it's clear that Sara always keeps the best for herself, giving Becky her leavings; and this is not seen as mean, but as right and proper). When Sara comes into money again, she hires Becky on as her maidservant. To drive the point home, Sara always speaks nobly and eloquently, while Becky is given a coarse accent in which to voice her few stammered words. It's also implied that Becky is not very bright, though possibly she's just never been taught; either way, one of the things Sara never passes on to her is education, despite Sara's vaunted love of books and learning.

One of the things that kept nagging me about their relationship is that Becky is older. I think because I live in quasi-egalitarian here-and-now, where increased age is supposed to bring increased privilege and wealth, the idea of 14-year-old Becky fawning at the feet of 11-year-old Sara somehow struck me as deeply weird and wrong.
I'd love comments on any part of this: the concept of age-appropriate behavior, interactions between girls of different ages in literature, personal experiences, whatever.
badgerbag: (mustachio)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Betty Gordon at Bramble Farm (1920) is about an orphan 13 year old girl whose kind uncle adopts her and then goes off to work in his oil fields somewhere Out West. He sends her by train to the farm of an old school friend of his so she can learn to ride and have fun for the summer. This school friend, Mrs. Peabody, turns out to have married an abusive, stingy man who has basically killed her spirit and soul so much that she keeps a slovenly house and cooks dull fried potatoes and ham every day. There are flies everywhere. Oh, misery! Betty befriends the orphaned "poorhouse rat" 14 year old boy Bob Henderson who is totally abused and starved and overworked. Mr. Peabody has cheated the two hired men of their wages, too! Betty's outraged!

Betty doesn't have much going for her other than a lot of entitlement and a bad temper, which she beats herself up over every time she tells off Mr. Peabody. She was pretty brave when she unharnessed and reharnessed the balky horse when it was stuck in the middle of the crossroads in the dark where motorcars might hit them and had to drag her injured uncle back home. And she was a bit brave, or lucky, when she overheard the chicken theives plotting to load up the truck full of Mrs. Peabody's chickens! Betty didn't think they were really bad and luckily didn't have to testify against them, because of extenuating circumstances like Mr. Peabody being a cheat and a miser!

There was an interesting bit where Betty thinks to herself that though he is a poorhouse rat, Bob is clearly a boy of good breeding, because his hands and feet are well-proportioned. Unlike the hired men! Bob also has a mysterious box with some papers that have his parents' marriage certificate and some other information and he's going to go to Washington someday to find the mysterious bookstore owner who seemed like he might know something about his mother's family. Do you think he'll turn out to be super rich? I DUNNO! Do you think he is pretty much already in love with Betty?! Or will he be her cousin? I vote for the love plot.

So, I'm going to keep reading for the explanations of social class, and the inevitable boarding school. In this town she befriended Dr. Guerin's family and his daughters who will surely end up as chums in her school, going to Pine Island or Cliff Richards or Blue Lake or perhaps Out West. We'll see!

It's odd for this book to be from 1920 and yet completely free of mention of the war that just happened!
badgerbag: (lesbiaaaans!)
[personal profile] badgerbag
This isn't getting a huge writeup from me, but I read it last night and it was fairly amusing.

Betty Wales is a college girl at Hampton and is one of those all-around nice girls, not specially talented at anything except having lots of friends and seeing the best in everyone. These books are very strange and amusing for their pictures of College Life in whenever it was - I think the very early 1900s. Basketball is AWESOME. The girls are constantly running around in shorts doing physical culture exercises. Then they rush to take out their pigtails and 'gym' suits to don a sweet white linen ensemble to take tea with a faculty member. The amateur theatrical fundraisers also rule. There's a bohemian Greenwich Village girl who is super sophisticated and popular.

Freshman and sophomore girls have official "crushes" on upperclasswomen, who invite them to dinners and dances and bring them bunches of violets. The crushes are much discussed and some teachers feel they aren't appropriate! The best bits of the book are when the girls tease each other about their crushes, or when their nervousness and hero-worship is described in detail.
" Oh, Eleanor ! ' said Betty reproachfully.
" As if any one could improve you ! '

Eleanor's evening dress was a pale yellow
satin that brought out the brown lights in her
hair and eyes and the gleaming whiteness of
her shoulders. There were violets in her hair,
which was piled high on her head, and more
violets at her waist ; and as she stood full in
the light, smiling at Betty's earnestness, Betty
was sure she had never seen any one half so

In this volume: plagiarism! Eleanor Watson, the snobby girl, screws up! Should Betty rescue her? Should Eleanor's screwup be covered up so as not to ruin her life? What about the honor code of the school? Nothing special happens and there's no big mystery or Adventure. Betty does go on the train to New York City, gets caught in a blizzard, stays by herself in a hotel, and visits the bohemian editor of a new literary magazine and is *only minorly sexually harassed*.

Only one girl Helen Adams, cares about learning anything, and she's a grind and a 'dig' who Betty has only partly saved from total geekdom and taught to be a little more like other girls who like normal girl things. (UGH!)

Here's the full text of Betty Wales, Sophomore but I recommend starting with Betty Wales, Freshman. I've read the Senior one too. These books feel a bit odd and clumsy and it's hard to understand sometimes what the heck's going on.

yatima: (Default)
[personal profile] yatima
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the two goldmines for information on the horse book genre. Jane Badger in the UK is a wonderfully opinionated resource, offering intelligent critique as well as bibliographic info. Ponydom bases its ratings on user reviews and is, I think, less interesting as a result, but very strong on the US material.

I rediscovered some childhood favourites and read some great new-to-me books based on these recs, most notably Caroline Akrill's Eventing Trilogy - very funny and with some effective class critique, but icky sexual politics - and Jean Slaughter Doty's The Monday Horses and The Crumb, both brilliant on corruption in hunter/jumpers.

I've started riding seriously again after seven years out of it, and the temptation to write YA horse books is making my typing fingers itch. Jane Badger, of course, has a good overview of what's going on with pony books today...
badgerbag: Young Ada Lovelace with a book called Advanced Calculus. (fierce)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I just realized that Jennifer from Series Books for Girls blog has a web site with summaries of a lot of books: . Her overviews of series like Ruth Fielding, Trixie Belden, and Cherry Ames.

Here's a bit more about her site, which is totally amazing! I love the cover art archive, the summaries, and her analysis and summary of the way the stories and characters develop over time.

This site was designed with three goals: to provide information about many of the more obscure series books; to display cover art galleries not readily available on other sites; and to present information in an easy to find fashion. It is my hope that I have succeeded on all three points.

When I first began collecting series books during the early 1990s, I focused on the more common series such as Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, Connie Blair, and Kay Tracey. When I first used the internet during the late 1990s, I was able to easily obtain information concerning these series by searching the web. After 2000, I gradually branched out into the more obscure series such as Peggy Lane, and my search for Peggy Lane information was the catalyst for the creation of this site. I could only find one site on the internet with the information I was seeking, and it was difficult to find.

Y'all, I'm so happy that other people share my weird, embarrassing fandom!
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I remember Ruth Fielding as being bold, thoughtful, creative, brave, and somewhat of a no-nonsense personality, who works hard on achieving financial independence. She was an orphaned teenager who comes to a small town to live with her mean, crusty old uncle Jabez Potter who runs the local mill on the banks of the Lumano River. His arthritic, hunchbacked, ancient, warm-hearted housekeeper "Aunt Alviry" is not actually Ruth's aunt but is a servant and for a long time is the only person who loves Ruth. Uncle Jabez doesn't believe in educating girls. But Ruth manages to win him over somehow. Anyway, Ruth goes off to boarding school at Briarwood Hall with her rich, beautiful motor-car-driving friend Helen Cameron, makes friends with everyone, and ends a terrible schoolgirl rivalry by creating just one big sorority, the Sweetbriars. I seem to recall their moonlight and candlelight ceremony where they're hanging out in togas by a graceful statue, with a harp. Ruth goes on to have a lot of adventures that center around her solving mysteries, helping poor girls get an education. Her companions include the jolly and popular plump girl, Jennie; and the slightly bitter lame girl, Mercy, as well as a rich friend with a cute brother and a motorcar. Nothing new there, right? But...

Ruth Fielding book cover

The cool thing about Ruth Fielding is that she's a scriptwriter for moving pictures! She saves her school when a building burns down by writing a moving picture scenario for Mr. Hamilton from the Aelectron Corporation! And goes on to become a successful writer, even transitioning from silent film to the talkies.

Note the fashion in the cover picture. It reminds me of the book from the Betsy-Tacy series where Betsy and the other girls try to look like Gibson Girls, with their dresses gracefully draped instead of being tightly fitted, and a "droop" to their figure, slouching rather than standing up straight.

I believe this might be the series where all the girls make graduation dresses from simple white cheesecloth so that the poor girls won't feel outshone by rich girl satin and lace. Or is that Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm? There was an amazingly cunning plan for their class valedictorian, Mercy the lame girl, to be able to graduate on stage by the clever and unprecedented use of a podium or a sort of Grecian drapery on a dais. Because it would be impossible for her to graduate on crutches despite her being the damn valedictorian on crutches! Mercy had a sharp temper because of her pain and illness and difference, and all the other girls take that into stride. She wasn't cured magically like Katy and Pollyanna and she didn't develop perfect patience; she stays crippled and a little bit bitchy. She's my hero!

Alice B. Emerson was a pseudonym used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Known authors who wrote Ruth Fielding books include Mildred Wirt Benson, W. Bert Foster, and Elizabeth M. Duffield Ward. Thanks to Jennifer at Series Books for Girls blog, which I've only just now found while searching for anyone... anyone... on the net who is also obsessed with this stuff!

Click through for my re-read and chapter by chapter summary of Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill in all its glorious faily goodness. Or, you can read the full text here from Project Gutenberg. Summary: The miser has a heart of gold; the crippled girl walks again; Ruth wins the spelling bee and gets a new dress; there is a lone page where a Mammy and a young black girl make cameo appearances. The young black girl does not get to go to school or make any friends or get any dresses...

Read more... )
trouble: Two women clutching each other from an old pulp novel.  "Rebel Woman" (rebel woman (now with bonus lesbians))
[personal profile] trouble
I'm not certain if folks here are aware of the pure awesomeness that can be found at Girlebooks.

"Much more than a simple free ebook resource, Girlebooks aims to make classic and lesser-known works by female writers available to a large audience through the ebook medium."

I suspect that many a Girls' Adventure Book from one's youth, and many a new fun adventure, can be found here for your Girlycon Needs.
badgerbag: (pentapus rocketship)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Where are all the science fiction boarding school books? I can think of a few "girl on her own" books with plucky, lone heroes, like Wednesday from that Charlie Stross book or the not-quite-Starfleet anthropology cadet from "Enchantress From the Stars". But where are the boarding school books in space, where girls interact socially with each other, have their own power politics and friendships and set their own ideas of what's important?

Are there any?

If not, we should be writing some.
badgerbag: (lesbiaaaans!)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I don't have a copy of Ginnie and Geneva, the first in the series, but last night I read Ginnie and the Mystery House, Ginnie and the New Girl, and Ginnie's Babysitting Service. As I recall it, the first book is about Ginnie, who is very femmy fourth grader, making friends with Genevra who is butch and wears "dungarees". Dungarees loom large in this book. You have to don them before you rake leaves, or crawl through a secret passageway in an attic, or go sleigh riding, and if you don't have your damn dungarees then you just have to stand there helplessly in your school dress as you watch the nice neighbor boy, Peter Ladd, do exciting things and get dirty. Meanwhile your Mother is probably in the kitchen, where she always is if she isn't running the vacuum; making a light, fluffy, angel food cake from a box with lemon jello.

In the Ginnie and the New Girl it's all about jealousy! OMG! That new girl Marcia keeps talking about her rich uncle and her pearl ring! She pretended to twist her ankle just to lure the awesome tomboy Geneva, Ginnie's BEST FRIEND, into coming to her house. Do you think that she might just be really lonely, but nice underneath? Suspense! There is a good bit about a party that struck me even in 1979 or so as *completely alien*. At this party, there are place cards at the dinner table. There is dinner. There is some kind of guessing game called Coffee Pot. Then some girls against boys crap happens and the girls are locked in the hayloft or something. I notice there was no hi fi; how come? Ginnie and her friends also get to go on a bus to New York and go to museums by themselves although they're in 6th grade. Free range kids, yeah!

Ginnie and the Mystery House features a slightly batty frail old lady in a big house two blocks away where the houses are shabby. Mysterious lights, bells, fear, a dark house! Do you think maybe Ginnie and her friends will save the crazy old lady from herself? And find her lost money? Arrrrrgh! And the New Girl's family from the last book might move into her house, instead of the dreary apartment they lived in that kept her so cruelly isolated from other children? I DUNNO!

Ginnie's Babysitting Service is the best one aside from the first. It was very vivid in my mind all through my childhood. Ginnie begins to angst about not having any artistic talent like Geneva or her friend Lucy the artist. She also wants money to spend at the five and dime, and to go to New York where god knows she'll probably have egg creams or go ice skating... She and Geneva decide to babysit after several failed money making schemes. Geneva sucks at babysitting. She's too rough and butch for it! She scowls a lot! In her dungarees! Ginnie loves the children and sets up all her old toys in the attic to make a nursery. She offers to the head of the Ladies' Democratic Club that there should be a mothers' discussion group after school, for moms of babies and young children, and pay her a cut rate for babysitting in her attic nursery! Since Geneva is full of babysitting fail, Ginnie's friend Anna, who is shy, gentle, and poor, becomes her business partner. What I liked about this book, I think, was the entrepreneurial spirit of Ginnie, the way she arranged everything nicely in the attic, and how she really liked learning the specific things that worked to take care of young children. Though otherwise I identified with Geneva the tomboy, I too enjoyed babysitting and figuring out child psychology!

In this weird magic world there is no history and everyone is white. Young mothers all stay at home with their babies, cooking things from boxes and mixes and vacuuming daily with aprons on!

Ginnie enjoys life to the fullest, often falling into reveries of sensuality as she bites into a crisp perfect apple or rakes leaves while smelling woodsmoke with her jolly father or hikes up a hill with her friends or savors several delicious hamburgers in a roadside diner when the bus from New York City stalls in the snow. Everything she experiences is pretty much perfect so you get to share her raptures as she goes to department store with her father who buys The Perfect Powder Blue Angora Sweater for her mother and then gets it gift wrapped with Perfect crisp wrapping paper in a dreamy shade of spring green with a bow that makes Ginnie proud to hold the package.

It gushes on like that, and other than the lesbian subtext between Ginnie and Geneva, those descriptions are the best part!
smallfuzzy: (Default)
[personal profile] smallfuzzy
Here from a link on fandom-lounge after asking about Chalet School fic!

When I was a wee thing, I went through a stage where I was school story nuts. I went through them like chocolate bars, picked them up at car boot sales, and revelled in the feeling of reading things which probably had very little educational content. How obsessed was I? My first hamster was named Joey after the Chalet School.

And then I grew up, handed them off to the kid sister and forgot about them. But the "kid sister" has also grown up, finished Uni, and moved back into Mum's while studying Law. I think it was while helping her shift stuff that I stood on her bed, and discovered on the shelf above her thick heavy law books, way above my head... a treasure trove. All the school stories I'd assumed thrown out, hidden there so Mum would not quietly tidy them away.

So, I've been racing through our Chalet School books every time I was home for a weekend, reading at the speed of light. And now I have two questions!

1) Does anyone have any decent fic recs? I've been pointed at a couple of communities, but specific recs for Good Stuff are always welcome. I'd particularly like some Juliet at college fic. I feel certain this must exist somewhere.

2) After I mentioned Chalet School, people started mentioning other things I'd forgotten being in love with, like Mallory Towers, and St Clares', The Naughtiest Girl in the School and the only faintly-remembered Trebizon.

And my brain helpfully supplied other things I'd forgotten associating with the boarding school genre, like A Little Princess, Little Men, even Billy Bunter. (My boarding school reading phase appears to have been a little more obsessive and eclectic than I remembered.)

So, I ask this tentatively, in a my-god-what-am-I-thinking? way, would anyone be up for a school stories fic exchange? It wouldn't be to start for at least a month yet, but I'm vaguely conscious that I'd need at least that time to a) gather the various schools into a list, and b) give a sign-in period anyway. I'm thinking to do hand-in at the beginning of September, just because it feels completely appropriate to hand in school stories at the end of the summer holidays.

(I am in two minds about whether to include more modern series such as The Babysitters' Club and Sweet Valley High in this. On the one hand they're not boarding schools, on the other I can't help thinking they're the modern day Chalet School equivalent.)

Would anyone be interested, or should I stop finding excuses to read my kid sister's book collection?

ETA: and it is done! Feel free to join and spread the word about.
badgerbag: Young Ada Lovelace with a book called Advanced Calculus. (fierce)
[personal profile] badgerbag
At Squid's house last night I picked up a yo-yo, untangled its string, and tried it out. Her 10 year old daughter peppered me with questions. "How do you do it? Do you know tricks? Do you know how to walk the dog, do shotgun, do around the world?"

Something seemed odd to me here. Then it all made sense.

"Hey. Waaaait a minute. Have you just been reading Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great?"

"Yes! What! How did you know that?"

The yo-yo was a Duncan Butterfly! The names of the tricks she asked about are the same ones Sheila's friend Mouse did in the book. Since the 10-year-old couldn't even make the yo-yo do its basic up and down or wind the string, it didn't seem like she would have seen her parents do those tricks. Come to think of it I've never seen a child of this generation operate a yo-yo correctly.

For the record I can sleep a yo-yo and walk the dog and sometimes Shotgun if I'm lucky! The Sheila the Great book made me practice yo-yoing more for a little while. I loved the way she lied, the horrible slumber party and its slam book, and the newspaper gossip column Sheila wrote at camp!
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I was just at coffee with [personal profile] yatima talking about Noel Streatfeild . I assumed Noel was a man and did some handwaving magic in my head like "and Noel was just kinda like Arthur Ransome: cool and maybe a little suspiciously pervy in his interests in the inner lives of young girls". Yatima insisted Noel must be a woman because the details of ballet were totally correct. Yay, wireless, because we looked it up and not only is her name Mary Noel, she also wrote a whole book about E. Nesbit.

This may not be news to many of you, but it was to me!

hobbitbabe: (Default)
[personal profile] hobbitbabe
We had Mrs Mike in our school library in elementary school, but when my best friend and I read it in grade 7, it felt like it was more "adult" than the other wholesome books they had in the school, even though it doesn't actually have any sex in it. It's by Benedict and Nancy Freedman, 1947.

It's a story of a young woman who marries a Mountie, back in the old days in the North West Territories. They have various hardships and trials, keeping house in a cabin in the bush and earning the respect of the local people, both white and First Nations. The protagonist and her husband have two small children, who die of some illness. Later in the book, they adopt some First Nations children and she begins to be happy again.

Do any of you remember reading this?
badgerbag: Young Ada Lovelace with a book called Advanced Calculus. (fierce)
[personal profile] badgerbag
This article could be way longer!

Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Three Black Robes on Supreme Court Justices and their history of reading Nancy Drew.

It just started to get good at the end:
A charge “rightly leveled” against the early books, Ms. Rehak says, “is that they were racist — all the villains were ‘foreign’ or ‘swarthy,’ and all the African-Americans were portrayed as second class in terms of intelligence, profession, etc.” She said that “one of the things I find so interesting about Sotomayor’s citing of Nancy is that even she, as a Puerto Rican child, just looked past all of that and took away with her the essence of Nancy.”

Caroline Reitz teaches a course called Sisters in Crime in the English department at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and introduces Nancy Drew as an archetype. She says many of her students are “sort of Sotomayors, city kids often the first ones to go to college, often from different cultural backgrounds.” They tend to enjoy the unlikely Nancy Drew, she said, appreciating the lack of ambiguity in her world, since they themselves have “a much more complicated understanding of the criminal justice system today.” The students are preparing for criminal justice careers and often have relatives in the system, from inmates to police officers. For them, Professor Reitz said, “one of the things appealing about Nancy Drew is that she is not like an N.Y.P.D. officer; she doesn’t have to think about Miranda rights. At the end of the day she is her own boss. She can powder her nose and drive off.
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Tonight I picked up The Motor Maids' School Days by Katherine Stokes, published in 1911. Three school girls in the little seaport town of West Haven see an automobile approaching... Keep in mind this is before power steering, and cars broke down constantly, so you had to be pretty strong and know how to fix stuff.
It was a graceful little machine large enough to hold five or six people comfortably, its body painted a warm and pleasing shade of red, its cushions upholstered in a slightly darker shade which harmonized perfectly with the red of the body. A young girl, sitting on the front seat, was running the car as easily and steadily as an experienced chauffeur. Making a graceful curve, she turned into the driveway which led to the school grounds and presently drew up under a large shed, where people were in the habit of hitching their horses and vehicles on Field Day, or when football was in season.

The Motor Maids' School Days

It's Billie Campbell, come home from abroad where she was living in hotels with her widowed father, to spend her sophomore year with some "real schoolgirls" who like to do things outdoors. Nancy, Elinor, and Mary, who are nice, sporty, and have jolly outdoor times, invite her to be in the Bluebirds school club. Belle Rogers, the class snob, invites her to be in the "Mystic Seven" with only the richest girls who dress up in frills all the time and have tea parties. DRAMA!

Belle the snob goes home to have a migraine, plots her revenge, and is given "headache powders" by her over-indulgent mother. When she's angry, she loses all her beauty!

In contrast, the Bluebirds have a rule that they must NEVER QUARREL.

In short order Billie is abducted by suspicious looking men, probably smugglers. One has one arm and one eye and a scar across his face and the other one is named Pedro. Like I said, totally smugglers. They steal her car and leave her in a shack. Billie thinks, "Oh, how I'd like to be a man for about five minutes! Then they wouldn't dare!"

She's at the very shack where coincidentally the Bluebirds and their very nice boy chums come by to investigate a rumor of some smugglers!

Then there's some totally half-assed action where one of the nice boys, Charlie Clay, changes clothes with Billie. We see her short red petticoats (!) He fits in her clothes and shoes perfectly. The smugglers come back and have a gun. Charlie fakes it with a wrench. They all drive off. I wonder if we're supposed to think that Charlie possessed a mysterious manly quality that let him scare away the bad guys? Or should we be thinking that if he's the same height and build as Billie, who surely also has a wrench about her person, why is Billie so down on herself and her ability to fight? It comes off like a badly done attempt to girly Billie up a little after saying what a great, confident driver she was.

Then, a picnic - lemonade - A mysterious beautiful dark-haired woman with flashing eyes is wounded and tells the girls to retrieve a small box from the wreck of her car - Then the woman is abducted but drops a card in the road with a short note explaining they have to keep the box VERY SECRET. Billie's Cousin Helen, a spinster, takes the girls on a trip to a country hotel a few miles away for a "ball" ... and has, without telling them, arranged for some nice boys to be there to dance with them. They mix up suitcases with Belle (the evil snob girl from the Mystic Seven) and Belle sees the box, which is crammed full of JEWELS. They dance. The hotel burns down. Belle and Billie end up on the roof of the burning building with the one-armed scarfaced man! Belle the Snob goes down the rope first, without knowing how to do it right, and cuts up her hands terribly. She'll never be able to play the piano again! I predict this is not one of the books where The Bluebirds teach the snob girls how to be nice and they all end up in one big school club.

This is not how I spent my sophomore year of high school, at ALL.

Political assessments:

Gender: Women's Liberation through healthy outdoor sports and being chums with boys.
Race: Dark flashing eyed Spanish speaking smugglers.
Class: It's okay for your parents to work, or be poor, as long as you go to a nice school.
Age: 55 year old spinsters are ANCIENT.
Able-ism: One armed, one-eyed, scarred people = evil.


Cousin Helen the Spinster has a mystery in her past. I predict her long lost beau (lost at sea?) will be a real European prince. The dark haired lady with the jewels and auto wreck might be his sister. The family of Belle the snob will lose all their money.

Coming soon, the end to Motor Maids (in comments on this entry. Will there be more racefail? Will my predictions turn out correct?

Next week I promise to write a giant dissertation sort of thing on Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins, the best book ever.
revena: Man and woman embracing in bodice-ripper cliche pose, with a vacuum cleaner (Romance)
[personal profile] revena
Hey y'all! I just wanted to drop a quick note in here about the comm layout, which I've just tossed together. Please give it a look and let me know if you have trouble reading or navigating anything, so I can fiddle with it as necessary. Thanks!

About the header, if anyone wants to know: I took the photo, using some of my own girl canon books and a few representative members from my husband's tiny pony collection. I'd be more than happy to make icons from the photo shoot if anyone has some text they'd like put over pictures of ponies and books!


girlycon: A white girl in a school uniform with her horse, from the cover of Leader of the Lower School by Angela Brazil. (Default)

January 2013

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