As a kid, I devoured every book I could get my hands on. (As an adult, I still do.) I loved mysteries. (As an adult, I still do.) I read the Cherry Ames books my mother had saved, the Meg mysteries we found, and anything and everything written by Mary Downing Hahn and John Bellairs.
I also read almost all of the original Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books. I enjoyed the basic set-up and execution of the books. They had action, adventure, and espionage. Though they often dealt with risky business, the main characters always made it home safely, and there was a kind of comfort in knowing that, say, Bess wasn't going to be a murder victim.
While I worked my way through the originals, I also read the newer books (meaning the numbered paperbacks that each line continued to produce in the 1980s and 1990s) and spinoffs. I enjoyed the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Super Mysteries, which were crossovers, and The Nancy Drew Files, which were also known as The Nancy Drew Casefiles. They offered cruise ships and college trips, among many other things. The characters became more modern and relaxed, but the books were still written for young audiences.
The Nancy Drew Notebooks, created for a younger audience and re-launched last year as Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, started coming out when I was too old for them. I have not read any of the books in that series, nor have I read any from the short-lived Nancy Drew on Campus teen series or the contemporary Nancy Drew Girl Detective chapter book series. I read two of the Nancy Drew Girl Detective graphic novels and did not find them all that thrilling.
My favorite original Nancy Drew book is #16: The Clue of the Tapping Heels, which includes tap shoes, Morse code, and cats. I don't have a particular favorite Hardy Boys book.
Sleuths on Screen
The books, which started coming out in 1930, inspired various film and television adaptations. The movies came first. Nancy Drew ... Detective was filmed in 1938. The next year, they released Nancy Drew ... Reporter, Nancy Drew ... Trouble Shooter, and finally Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase.
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries starting airing on television in 1977. Though I didn't see any of those episodes, I did watch the short-lived TV series that popped up in 1996. I also watched the made-for-TV movie simply titled Nancy Drew which aired in 2002. Maggie Lawson starred as the title character, who was in college rather than high school. The new Nancy Drew movie starring Emma Roberts as the teen detective opened in theatres on June 15th, 2007.
On the night that the new film opened, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) aired the four original Nancy Drew films back-to-back. I had never seen these films before. I found them entertaining, and I was pleasantly surprised by their campy nature. Nancy was not as straight-laced (and, dare I say, uptight) as the girl I had pictured her while reading the books. I liked kooky movie Nancy. I thought actress Bonita Granville was delightful.
Unlock the Mysteries
Want to learn more about the original books and their spinoffs? Wondering who really wrote the books? You simply have to visit Nancy Drew Sleuth, a comprehensive website created and maintained by Jenn Fisher, a writer, researcher, and consultant. Also check out the Wikipedia entries for Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.
These series can also be found on my Sleuths and Spies Booklist.