Favorite Books from Childhood

I’ve made a list of twelve of my all-time favorite chapter books I read when I was a kid. I thought it might be fun to reread and revisit those while I countdown the days until my own book is published. Nothing would mean more to me than having a kid add my book to a similar list in about fifty years!

twisted candlesTo start off, I’ll go with The Sign of the Twisted Candles by Carolyn Keene, the ninth book in the Nancy Drew series, originally published in 1933. The version I read was the updated (and now horribly old-fashioned) 1968 yellow-bound version. There was, of course, a real “Carolyn Keene.” Her name was Mildred Wirt, and she did write many of the early mysteries. She was a part of the famous Stratemeyer Syndicate that also published the Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, the Dana Girls, the Hardy Boys, and other series.

Who didn’t want to grow up and be Nancy Drew? I know I did! I read them all when I was in middle school, and I have the entire “classic” series on my shelf at home. The Sign of the Twisted Candles, however, is my very favorite of them all. Nancy and her chums, Bess and George are forced by the weather to stop at an inn. Nancy, of course, is masterful and brave, as the mystery of the old man who lives in the upstairs tower and the poor serving girl begins to unravel. Nancy is on her own for this one because Bess and George get weird on her. Not sure why this one stuck with me so firmly, but it did. In fact, when they get to the inn, Nancy orders tea and cinnamon toast for the three girls, and I never eat cinnamon toast without thinking of the book.

I reread this series (the old versions, not the modern, updated ones) every so often, and I’m always struck by how the adult me can spot things such as Nancy’s bossiness, the girls’ horrible treatment of Bess over her plumpness, and the ways so many adults just fall over themselves about Nancy being so highly implausible. When I was younger, though, Nancy was the best!

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