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Posts Tagged ‘children's literature’

One stormy night, 87 year-old Nancy Drew found herself exploring the back roads of Farrington, PA in her sky blue roadster.

Nancy tossed back her blonde curls while pondering her blessed life and remarkable stamina after more than sixty years of solving crimes.

“I owe it all to my readers,” she thought. “They’ve kept me young and alive all these years.

Suddenly, out from the depths of obscurity came a figure standing right in the middle of the road. Nancy couldn’t make out the form in the dark and wet conditions. She screeched the roadster to a halt. Grabbing a flashlight from the glovebox, Nancy wasted no time hopping out of the car to investigate.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” came a sinister voice from the tall figure draped in a black cape.

“Are you a poor, helpless person in need of my selfless assistance?” Nancy asked.

“No, Nancy Drew,” the voice barked. “I am the victim of your perfection, slick style, and syndicated values. I am Judy Bolton and your time, Nancy Drew, has finally come.

I wrote this! In graduate school I studied children’s literature while pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Mills College. One semester I wrote a research paper titled Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton: Rival Girl Detectives of the 1930s. I wanted a fun way to start the paper so I came up with this exchange for my cover page.

The Nancy Drew series was created in1930 by syndicate publisher Edward Stratemeyer and written by Mildred Wirt under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Two years later the Judy Bolton series was published. (Created and written by Margaret Sutton.) What’s interesting about Judy is she ages over time and even gets married halfway through the 38-book series. Nancy stays forever a teenager.

My Nancy Drew costume. The dress is vintage 1960s from Bonwit Teller in NYC. (A classic silhouette works across the eras.) The hat is a vintage 20s cloche. The book is Nancy’s first – The Secret of the Old Clock.

Nancy crosses my mind every Halloween, probably because one year I dressed up as the girl detective. I wore a simple A-line dress in navy blue with red insets and a blue cloche hat, which is really a 1920s style, but she wears a cloche on the cover of her first book.

Nancy’s appealing fashions were depicted in the books with illustrations by Russel H. Tandy. In my paper I said that Tandy created for Nancy “sleek, simple, but elegant fashions.” Judy was no fashion slouch either, always well dressed in styles of the day.

This year will find me at home wearing a spooky jack-o-lantern black T-shirt and settled in for night of creepy old movies – like House of Wax with Vincent Price. How about you, readers? What are you up to this Halloween?

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I Am Coco by Isabel Pin

Award winning illustrator Isabel Pin has just published her latest children’s book, I Am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel (Prestel Publishing).

Much has been written about the designer/fashion icon Coco Chanel (even for children), however, there’s something quite unique and compelling about Ms. Pin’s addition to the stack. As the author and illustrator, she gives readers an overview of Chanel’s life from young orphan at the turn of the last century to innovative designer to icon, highlighting the big events in her life – short-lived singing career, first shop, love affairs, world wars, daring designs, and her comeback in the late 1950s.

Illustrations From the book I am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel.

Each chapter of the story is concisely written and embellished with colorful illustrations. Although Pin’s depictions bear little resemblance to Chanel, her simple drawings with a swipe of added color grew on me. (Her style actually reminds me of mid-century fashion illustrations, in particular Andy Warhol, who was a fashion illustrator in his early career.) Pin’s images of Chanel, her life, and designs are as delightful to look at as a plate of pink and green French Macarons.

Chanel’s story takes place in the world of fashion, but the message within her story is perseverance. In addition to learning about Chanel’s life and achievements, young readers will find in I Am Coco fashion history, inspiration, and encouragement to follow their ambitions.

I Am Coco: The Life of Coco Chanel by Isabel Pin is targeted for readers aged six to nine, but this its a fun read at any age.

(Thank you Prestel Publishing and Media Masters Publicity for providing a review copy to ODFL.)

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