If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Monday, April 22, 2013

What was your favorite children's mystery series?

Please welcome new blogger, Shari Randall, who makes her debut today. I met Shari through the Chesapeake Chapter of SinC. Our stories were chosen for publication in, Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder, released last year by Wildside Press. Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, to be released in 2014, will include our new short stories, too. Shari's vocation as a children's librarian adds a new perspective we appreciate. Thanks for joining WWK, Shari.  E. B. Davis

By night I write, by day I am a children’s librarian at a midsize public library. All day I answer questions, such as:
·         “My teacher says I need to find a photograph of Plato for my report” (think about that one)
·         “Do you have any books about images of fascism in Weimar Germany?”
·         “Where’s the bathroom?”

By far my favorite question is,
·         “Can you help me find a good book to read?”

The most fun I have is talking books with young readers, who have the uncomplicated passion for stories that some lucky adults retain. A young man came up to the desk today and told me that a book I had recommended, Ellen Raskin’s Newbery Award winning mystery The Westing Game was now officially his favorite book. (I love the “officially”!)

I am surprised and thrilled that so many favorite books and characters that I loved years ago are still on the shelves, and are still read and loved by young mystery fans today.

Favorites like Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol, Cam Jansen by David Adler, Herculeah Jones by Betsy Byars, Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson, and Rob Roy’s A to Z Mysteries delight young mystery fans as much as they delighted their parents.

Nate the Great - Original
Nate the Update
Many of these evergreen series have kept up with, and changed with, the times. Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Boxcar Children mysteries originally appeared in 1924; the latest title, number 133, The Return of the Graveyard Ghost will be published September 1, 2013. The Boxcar Children even have their own Facebook page. Some series characters have moved well into middle age, and have had significant makeovers. Nate the Great, who recently celebrated his 40th birthday, has a new look.

Of course, the stalwarts Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys are still going strong. These characters and stories have been retooled over the decades to reflect the tastes and expectations of their readers – and sell to their parents. Nancy has undergone many transformations, morphing into a cute third grader (Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series) and into the what-were-they-thinking Nancy of the Nancy Drew Case Files. 
 Everyone goes through an awkward phase, and this series, like that haircut you got in the 80s because everyone else did, is best forgotten.

Everyone goes through an awkward phase
Frank and Joe Hardy have also changed with the times, and some of the updates have received uneven reviews from parents. One mom complained to me that the Hardy Boys book her son had checked out had an “inappropriate” alibi –  a suspect was making out with his girlfriend at the critical time and was cleared of suspicion. (Lucky guy!) The latest incarnation, the graphic novel series The Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers, has Joe and Frank fighting terrorists with a secret group called ATAC (American Teens Against Crime).
Hardy Boys go graphic.

New favorites like Nancy Farmer’s Enola Holmes stories and Penny Warner’s charming Codebusters books are easy to recommend, since they give readers what they want: characters to cheer for and exciting plots with plenty of clues for budding detectives to follow. Michael Buckley’s Sisters Grimm series imagines that the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales were actually case files, and Bruce Hale’s series about Chet Gecko, a fourth grade lizard and self-styled gumshoe detective, plays with the tropes of the hardboiled detective story with delightful results. My favorite Chet Gecko title? Farewell, My Lunchbag.

What was your favorite mystery series when you were a child?


Jim Jackson said...

I read all of the Hardy Boys mysteries. They were older than I and so I hoped to grow up like them.

Although they were not mysteries per se, my favorite series we the "We Were There" books. Each book was a fictional rendering of an historical event told through the eyes of a child. There were 36 in total, and I loved them.

It's great fun to see my grandchildren reading some of the same books I read or that I had read/given to my children.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I wasn't a big mystery fan as a child. I favored The Little House on the Prairie series, A Child's Garden of Verses, and The Boxcar Children, but then there was only one book in the series when I was a child.

My kids liked the Berenstein Bears and the Little Critter series, but neither were really mysteries, more themed to learning life's lessons.

Updating these series to relate to the problems kids encounter today seems a good idea.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Jim and E.B.,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is fun to share books that you loved as a child with the kids and grandkids!
I was definitely Team Nancy Drew when I was a little girl, but I would check out the Hardy Boys books in a pinch. Definitely adventurous, aspirational characters, though I didn't want to be Nancy when I grew up - I wanted to be Emma Peel (of the Avengers TV show)!

Gloria Alden said...

My favorite mysteries way back then were Nancy Drew, but the books I read most were horse books and when there weren't any more in our small school library that I hadn't read at least two times, I went on to the Albert Payson Terhune books about collies and developed a life-long love of this breed of dogs.

As a third grade teacher for 20 years, I had a classroom library of hundreds and hundreds of books. I read at least 3, and sometimes 4 chapter books at a time to my students starting with a chapter every morning from one of the Chronicles of Narnia series, then in mid-morning after SSR, I read a chapter from another book that was part of a historical timeline I worked on through the year. Then I had a set of a dozen easy reader chapter books that fit into that timeline, like a Time Warp Trio book or The Magic Treehouse books with first dinosaurs, then moving to Ancient Egypt, etc. and my students would take turns reading a paragraph. After lunch I'd read from another chapter book - maybe Harry Potter or some other book. I also had A Sherlock Holmes Detective Club where kids in pairs or threes if we had an uneven number of students, would get together somewhere in the room to read a chapter in their Cam Jansen, Encyclopedia Brown or other mystery book and then write in their case notebook what the mystery was, what clues were offered and who they thought the suspect was.

I've gone on too long, and could say much, much more about the reading we did in my class, but I'll end here with saying one of the things I really miss about teaching is reading to the kids.

Gloria Alden said...

I forgot to add, my students loved the Boxcar Children and especially loved that the characters last name was Alden - the same as mine.

Shari Randall said...

Gloria, you had some very lucky students! Such creative ideas - I would have loved to have been in your class.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Hey, Shari! Welcome to WWK!

When I was young, I read Phyllis A. Whitney's YA novels and Hester Burton's historicals.

My favorite book was written by Constance Lindsay Skinner, a Canadian writer who passed away in 1939. The book's title was Becky Landers, Frontier Warrior, and it was about a girl who grew up near Daniel Boone's family in Kentucky. A few years ago, I found a copy on the Internet and I treasure it.

I loved two science fiction novels. One called The Happy Planet would be considered hopelessly old fashioned today, but I found it charming. Another was translated, Star Girl, by Henry Winterfield. I bought it in a bidding war a few years ago and learned that my rival bidder had grown up near the author's retirement home and regularly purchased Winterfield's books when they became available on eBay.

Winterfield also wrote The Trouble at Tempetill, where the adults in a small town leave their children for a day to teach the children a lesson, but the children are stranded for longer and must fend for themselves.

Ah, what wonderful memories!

Warren Bull said...

For mysteries I read all the Hardy Boys books, like Jim.
I loved A Children's Garden of Verses and The Wind in the Willow.

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, I had lots of my student's parents tell me the same thing. :-) But then, I'm not only a lover of books and reading, I'm also a kid at heart so 3rd graders and I got along quite well.

Shari Randall said...

I love seeing what other people's favorites were! Did any of you Hardy Boys fans have The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook? I've still got that one on my shelf.

Linda Rodriguez said...

When I was very young, I whipped through all the Nancy Drews and then started on the Hardy Boys--not nearly as good, I thought. also loved the Boxcar Children. At a fairly early age, I moved to Phyliis Whitney and Agatha Christie.

That's just the mysteries. I was an avid reader and read over 12 books a week every week for many, many years of my childhood. So I moved into adult books at a fairly young age. We were poor, and I owned almost none. So librarians were my best friends.

Still can hear my mother's voice--"Get your nose out of that book!"

Anonymous said...

I didn't learn to read until I was a 5th grader. Our public library refused to stock what they considered "trash," which included the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. The favored birthday present among most of my friends was a new Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book. We kept lists of who owned what, and tried to get our mothers to buy them for each other's birthdays (My mother seldom would. She maintained that the perfect birthday present for a girl was a new pair of white gloves for church, for a boy an initialed white handkerchief, and that was what I was usually stuck giving everyone) At some point, an older cousin with more liberal (and wealthier) parents gave my family a whole box of Bobsey Twin books, which we just devoured.

Kara Cerise said...

Welcome to WWK, Shari!

I was a big mystery fan when I was a child and read Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames, Bobbsey Twins and Vicki Barr. But, like you, I wanted to be Emma Peel.

How fun that the Boxcar Children mysteries are still published and that they have a Facebook Page.

Amy Taylor said...

I liked the Hardy Boys although I'm sure I was influenced by the TV show as much as the books. Now I want to have that Hardy Boys Detective Handbook that I never knew about!

Shari Randall said...

Amy, I'll feature my Hardy Boys Detective Handbook in an upcoming post. It's too good to keep to myself.