Monday, August 16, 2010

Gleeps, Trixie!


The Kiddo and Trixie Belden have now been officially introduced. After my rocky start with Nancy Drew, I was a little afraid of whether the Girl Shamus would hold up to the test of time.

I loved Trixie growing up ... I identified with her hatred of all things to do with housework, her difficulties in math and the fact that she blurts out the first thought that comes to her mind. I thought it was cool how the Beldens and Jim Frayne and Honey Wheeler (and gorgeous Di with the violet eyes) all got to go on super interesting trips and solve mysteries. (Psst ... I also had a huge crush on Brian, the would-be doctor). My parents bought me almost every one of the Trixie Belden books for Christmas one year, and I read them all.

So I didn't want this re-reading of Trixie to be a letdown. And I desperately hoped that the Kiddo loved her as much as I did when I was a kid.

That being the case, I girded my loins and started reading THE SECRET OF THE MANSION aloud to the Kiddo. And I was surprised ... by a lot of things.

1) Trixie seemed a little more bratty to me at first ... but I figure that's just the mother in me coming out. The writer quickly worked to make her redeemable.

2) The pace of the story is lightning fast. While I remembered the big plot points (learning how to ride a horse, finding Jim, Bobby getting bitten by a copperhead), I didn't remember it happening in a two-day timespan.

3) For all of her moaning and groaning about housework, Trixie sure doesn't have to do a lot of it ... and apparently the Beldens shipped their laundry out to be washed (remember the big laundry truck that nearly flattens Honey on her first bike ride?)

BUT ... Surprise #4 more than offsets 1 through 3: Trixie is a very real, very human character, and the book is as interesting to me as when I read it the first time. I actually think I prefer her to that paragon of virtue Nancy Drew (the shame of it!). Plus, it's interesting that in 1948, a girl who was fearless and daring when it came to spiders, snakes and the like could be presented in a favorable light.

The Kiddo is very caught up in the mystery, pulled out only to ask questions like, "Mommy, what are dungarees?" and "Do they have to wear helmets when THEY ride a bike or horses?"

Reading old books does require quite a bit of annotation -- that dungarees are the same as jeans, that girls used to wear dresses a lot more than they do now, that a riding habit isn't the same as a nun's habit. But I like the fact that Trixie is still relevant today -- probably even more so than other girl detective heroines, and that her exploits (at least in the first mystery) are in line with what a parent would actually let her get away with. Score!

7 comments:

Piedmont Writer said...

I still have most of my TB Books too, saving them for Monster Baby. I always liked Trixie better than Nancy, don't know why.

Linda G. said...

Oh, I love Trixie Belden! (Could NOT get into Nancy Drew.) So many happy hours spent in her company as a child. *happy sigh*

Hope the kiddo enjoys them all.

Jessica Lemmon said...

I stuck more to Stephen King and anything horrifically scary when I was a kid. You know, I can't read those books now and get a good night's sleep!

Kelly Breakey said...

I have not read any of these, so know I have too. *Sigh* Where will I find the time.

demery bader-saye said...

I loved Trixie Belden growing up - and had forgotten about her until reading this! So thank you for the good memories. Another one I loved - more along the lines of Nancy Drew I think - was Cherry Ames (a student nurse detective). My mom had two or three old battered copies and I loved them. In those days there wasn't an easy way to get a hold of out of print books - but I'll have to look them up (along with Trixie). Thanks for a blast from the past :)

Dr. Goose said...

I'm getting an education on books.

Cynthia Reese said...

Anne, most of my Trixie mysteries are somewhere at my mom's -- this copy came from our public library. They have ... gasp ... the WHOLE collection!

Linda_G, I'll bet you were a veritable Trixie when you were a kid. Were you like me and wanted to be a detective when you grew up?

Jessica, I was intro'd to Stephen King when I was in high school. THE STAND completely wigged me out, but my favorite of King's has to be FIRESTARTER.

Kelley, it's not a must, but it's pretty cool to go back and read ANY of your childhood favorites, whatever they are. I can see roots of my writing in them, believe it or not -- including the bad habits that I subsequently had to learn how to break. o_O

Demery, I shall have to look up Cherry Ames ... this is a gap in my education, and I intend to rectify it! Thanks for the heads-up!

Dr. Goose, books are definitely good friends, aren't they? And life (at least for me) is a constant process of learning just how much I still have to learn. ;-)