Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Children Mystery Novels

When I was small I used to read a lot of mystery novels. After awhile though I became bored with mystery. Lately I have begun reading some mysteries again.

When I was little I read the Boxcar children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. The first book tells the story of four orphaned children, Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden, who run away from their grandfather and start a new life in an abandoned boxcar. Eventually they are reunited with their grandfather. They solve various mysteries in the books and I remember enjoying the books. The first 19 books written by Warner were much better than the subsequent books written by various authors after she had died. The first 19 books had character growth and aging of the characters, later books have them back to the age and personality of the first book.

The Adventures of the Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald, is another good book series. This series is about a boy named Tom D. Fitzgerald, nicknamed the Great Brain. It is set in a fictitious small town in Utah, between the years 1896 and 1898. It is told in first person from Tom's younger brother John's point of view. The stories are mainly about the escapades the Great Brain who is a very smart and greedy boy, who finds all kinds of ways to make a penny (back when a penny was worth something). The chapters mostly involve him trying to con people out of their money swindle, outwit, and sometimes even blackmail, people to try and make money from schemes that most of us would think of as unethical. He also helps solve problems other kids have. The books have a lot of historical context as well and deal with some real problems of that time period, such as racism, banking pre-national reserve, small town culture, use of out houses, entertainment pre-TV and radio, child discipline of that time (namely spankings), amongst other things of that time period.

Another series I liked as a child was Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol. This series is about a boy detective named Leroy Brown, nicknamed Encyclopedia because of his intelligence. In the books there are multiple short stories in each book and the readers are expected to solve the mystery themselves, story ends at the moment when readers are invited to solve the case themselves, the answers are in the back of the book. Encyclopedia Brown runs his own detective agency out of his garage charging 25 cents plus expenses. He works with a girl called Sally Kimball who is rather tomboyish but well educated and knowledgeable on etiquette. She acts as his bodyguard on occasion. He occasionally solves a mystery for his father, the police chief, but most are just helping neighborhood kids. He has two nemesis' the town bully, Bugs Meany, and Wilford Wiggins, a teenage con artist who is always attempting to trick the children of the city out of their money. If Wilford is involved he does not charge any fee.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review, thanks very much. I'm always on the hunt for great children's books and have recently discovered Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks, DiscoveryBoxBooks They have work by acclaimed children's books illustrator Helen Oxenbury appearing in the Storybox series for September. In addition to this, they also have some great activities for rainy days:,, Enjoy!