Saturday, January 27, 2007

Mystery Solved! Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Almost Remembered Book

Among the comments from earlier posts was a reader ("Amy") who enlisted me in a search for a favorite childhood book--one which involved psychic twins who visited an upstate New York hotel, inhabited by an Indian ghost named Saskia, and who solved a mystery involving Henry Hudson and Baffin Bay.

I'm used to having students pose questions like this to me, usually without this much detail (usually they only recalled the color of the book and that "it was good.") Luckily, in the past twelve years or so, I had the help of advanced Booleian searches and could usually extract enough information from the reader to come up with the book from my own brain or the library catalog's database. So Amy's query kept nagging at me, and I finally started sifting through big public library catalogs.

New York City's public catalog has the cutest name (CATNYP), but wasn't really very helpful, so I tried first the Boston Public Library and then the Chicago P.L., figuring that big city libraries with many branches would have lots of old mystery series gathering dust in their juvenile collections. Unfortunately, Amy hadn't told me when she had read this book, so I waded through titles from the 1950's on looking for twins solving mysteries with ESP. I found a series with a whole family full of twins who used extrasensory perception to solve mysteries, the Starbuck Family Adventures, by Kathryn Lasky, which sounded like it could have included the book Amy was searching for. I emailed her back to ask about this possibility and to ask for a time frame. Immediately I heard back that she'd been inspired by my search to look again on and had found the very book she remembered, Three Spirits of Vandemeer Manor, from the Mostly Ghosts series by Mary Anderson, published in 1987. And yes, the book was green!

While searching for Amy's mystery book, I ran across some other "twin" series which might appeal to kids, twins or not. For example, if you know a reader who likes old-fashioned books, take a look at the old twins series by Lucy Fitch Perkins such as The Dutch Twins. They're sure to fail the P.C. test, but their quaintness has a certain charm.

For the readers who like twins and ghosts in their series, check out the Ghost Twins series by Dian Curtis Regan.

For the YA reader there's the strange but well-reviewed Vampire Twins< series by Janice Harrell, which is, I guess, the antidote to all those Sweet Valley High titles.

If you have an old favorite, about twins or whatever, send in your description of the book and a time frame for when you read it, and we'll see if we can locate it. Maybe I can enlist Amy or an army of Nancy Drews of the Library to help! And, hey, don't forget the color!


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