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From the Biographies for Young Readers series

An enlightening peek behind the curtain for Nancy Drew fans.

“There is no Carolyn Keene. There never was.” But as the author of 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew mysteries, Mildred Wirt Benson came closer than anyone else.

Digging into archives and the memories of surviving acquaintances as well as published histories, Rubini spins an account of Benson’s long and active life that throws a strong light on the source of Nancy Drew’s own admirably intrepid and independent spirit. The author briefly mentions updated editions of the original Nancy Drews and other publication details, but she largely steers clear of retold plotlines and literary analyses to focus on biographical details. These include Benson’s early years in Iowa and first publication at 13 (in St. Nicholas Magazine), two marriages, and twin careers as a local journalist and, under a variety of names, a writer of over 130 children’s titles. Family snapshots, old cover images, and side notes on topics from Nancy Drew trivia to a brownie recipe offer occasional distractions. More significantly, a quick history of the Stratemeyer Syndicate sheds light on the ins and outs of series ghostwriting, highlighted by the dramatic 1980 courtroom denouement (“I thought that you were dead”) that led at last to public recognition of Benson’s achievements.

An enlightening peek behind the curtain for Nancy Drew fans. (timeline, publication list, glossary, endnotes, bibliography) (Biography. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8214-2183-3

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

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From the Marigold Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Cold indeed is the heart not made warm by this bubbly fairy-tale romance. Raised by a kindly forest troll, Christian knows little of the world beyond what he can see through his telescope, but gazing upon a nearby castle, he falls head over heels for Princess Marigold. What chance has he, though, as a (supposed) commoner? When at last he nerves himself to send her a message via carrier pigeon, she answers and the courtship is on—via “p-mail” at first, then, after he lands a job as a castle servant, face to face. Setting numerous fairy-tale conventions just a bit askew, Ferris (Of Sound Mind, 2001, etc.) surrounds her two smart, immensely likable teenagers, who are obviously made for each other, with rival suitors, hyperactive dogs, surprising allies, and strong adversaries. The most notable among the last is devious, domineering Queen Olympia, intent on forcing Marigold into marriage with a penniless, but noble, cipher. The author gets her commonsensical couple to “I Do” through brisk palace intrigue, life-threatening situations, riotous feasting, and general chaos; Queen Olympia gets suitable comeuppance, and the festivities are capped by the required revelation that Christian is actually heir to the throne of neighboring Zandelphia. Fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Princess Tales will be in familiar territory here, as well as seventh heaven. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-15-216791-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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Starting with an overview of how researchers look at humor, this uneven guide to a topic with potentially high kid-appeal...

A light introduction to the appealing, complicated subject of humor lacks the depth to do it justice.

Starting with an overview of how researchers look at humor, this uneven guide to a topic with potentially high kid-appeal meanders through loosely connected aspects of humor, offering anecdotes, quotes from experts and intriguing facts. Short chapters touch on the anatomy of laughter and the history of laugh tracks. A longer chapter discusses how humor differs between genders, among cultures and age groups and throughout history. Readers may be most interested in the final chapter on stand-up comedy and how to be funny. Jackson relies heavily on quotes from interviews with humor experts, working their names and titles awkwardly into the text. The academic nature of the quotes, suitable to a more substantial study of humor, jars with the author’s otherwise conversational, entry-level approach to the subject, raising questions about the intended audience. Generic cartoonish pictures and occasional jokes in boldface type illustrate points made in the text. Short sidebars explore topics such as the funny bone, tickling and texting abbreviations about humor.

Pub Date: June 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01244-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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