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The Wisdom Of Nancy Drew

1/12/2010. Contributed by Neale Monks

Buy The Wisdom Of Nancy Drew in the USA - or Buy The Wisdom Of Nancy Drew in the UK

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The Wisdom Of Nancy Drew: The Nancy Drew Guide to Solving Life's Little Mysteries (Magnetic Wisdom) edited by Amy Helmes. pub: Cider Mill Press/Magnetic Wisdom. 96 page small book and cover repros in box. Price: $ 9.95 (US), $11.95 (CAN) ISBN: 978-1-933662-76-3.

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Nancy Drew is probably the most famous juvenile detective in American fiction. She's also something of a cultural icon, her name being used in both good and bad ways to epitomise different and often contradictory ideas about young women and the sorts of things they can do. On the one hand she's a safe, white, middle class character, but on the other hand she's an adventurous go-getter with little time for traditional female roles.

First published in 1930, Nancy Drew's appearance has changed and with the times, but this collection draws heavily on cover art from the books of the 30s to 50s. At first glance, the juxtaposition of the classic artwork with the modern sentiments described in the text comes across as kitsch, but there's a bit more to this book than safe, gentle amusement. Nancy Drew was a sleuth and even juvenile sleuthing requires analysis and assessment. The ‘How Do You Drew’ chapter in particular offers a series of observations together with multiple choice explanations. The wisdom part of 'The Wisdom Of Nancy Drew' comes maxims ranging from very specific through to the more general. Crates of oranges for example can hide bombs, so should be checked thoroughly after delivery. Old people and orphans are generally saints so can be trusted, but take around anyone with a creepy-sounding name.

Dedicated followers of Miss Drew's adventures will of course recognise the sources of the various questions and recommendations, but others are likely to find them all a bit bizarre and that's part of the fun. These are in-jokes for Nancy Drew fans, both young and old but even though 'The Wisdom Of Nancy Drew' isn't exactly philosophical, it's always nice to see role models for girls that don't centre on celebrity, beauty or fashion. Whatever else can be said about the 'Nancy Drew' books and much has been discussed about her influence over the years, she's a girl who doesn't scream when confronted with danger and has the brains required to work her way through any mystery. That's perhaps why she's been so popular for so long.

Together with the pocket-sized book, the 'The Wisdom Of Nancy Drew' comes with a set of twelve fridge magnets featuring Nancy Drew cover art. For under ten dollars, the whole thing is a neat Christmas gift for 'Drew' fans of all ages.

Neale Monks
October 2010

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