Back to the book! In Secret of the Old Clock, Nancy's first mystery, you get to meet her, her charming father, and her loving housekeeper. I was surprised not to see Bess & George, her friends. They didn't show up until later books. But you immediately get a sense of why Nancy Drew is such a beloved strong female character. She embarks on a search for a lost will in an effort to help two older ladies raise their adopted child. Nancy was always about helping those less fortunate than her. And, of course, she pits herself against two former classmates, who were basically the wicked stepsisters from Disney's Cinderella. In doing so, she ends up taking on two robbers (who incidentally reminded me of the 101 Dalmations robbers...more Disney connections). Nancy is brave, compassionate, smart, and independent. No wonder I loved her!
The writing is simple and straightforward. And while it definitely had a slightly dated feel to it, the book didn't suffer because of that. Instead, I found myself loving the simplicity of the bad guys being bad and the good guys being good. In the spirit of a Scooby Doo cartoon, the villains confess in the end, and everyone gets what they deserve, both good and bad. How very satisfying!
One of the things I loved going back now and reading Nancy Drew was that even though they were written in a fairly male-dominated time, Nancy really is the heroine. She does get help from her father, Carson, and Ned, but she is the brains. She is the one taking action. She is solving problems and helping others.
So, next time a student is looking for adventure, mystery, or even realistic fiction, I will point her OR him straight at the Ke section. Did I mention that our biggest Nancy Drew fan last year was a boy? Yep, great for everyone...boy or girl, young or old.