There was a time in my life before speculative fiction ruled. Who knew?
I read a fair bit of Nancy Drew, but it hasn’t stayed with me. I don’t think my library had any Hardy Boys; I certainly never read them. That doesn’t mean I was at a loss for teen investigations, though. Oh no.
I was totally mad for Trixie Belden. I have no idea where I got them – probably an older friend of the family – but I know I read a loooot of them.
I used to imagine myself as one of their gang, and falling in love with Jim…! (or, since he was so clearly all over Trixie, I’d settle for Dan, the somewhat dour but very useful stable boy.) I loved that Trixie wasn’t the oldest, or male, but that she was clearly the leader of the group – even her older brother Brian usually followed her lead. Plus, adventures, and travelling around the country, and a cool group of friends with a variety of talents, and… yeh. Perfect. Plus plus, a lot of the investigations were actually very clever, and had neat little twists. Not that I remember very many of them, because they were a long time ago and I just read them one after another and they all blur together…
Words I would not know without Trixie Belden: jalopy. Also, that it was possible to have violet eyes (Di was not my favourite, but boy did I envy those eyes).
A series that I quite literally could not get my hands on enough of (because the library didn’t stock them).
I loved the three different characters who made up the team: Jupiter – smart and ‘chubby’; Pete – nervous and athletic; and Bob, the studious one. To be honest I actually don’t remember enormous details about them in any specific book, but I remember enjoying their conversations immensely and thinking that it was awesome how they were all so different but worked so well together. I liked the settings of the books – I seem to recall quite a few being set in/around carnivals – and I adored the intricacies of the mysteries they got themselves involved in. I liked that Jupiter was regularly underestimated because he was fat but that I the reader was very smug in knowing that his brains made up for any perceived deficiency – and clearly the people who thought poorly of him were villains or redshirts because everyone good knows Jupe is the leader. Duh. I really liked Jupiter. Plus, again, fun twists to the plot, some of which I even hadn’t already guessed for myself.
I’m still quite the sucker for police procedurals – also Shadow Unit – and I think I can trace that back here.