Since That Party By Inger Brattström

We’re going into reruns for the next month, constant readers, so that I can work on another literary project (WATCH THIS SPACE!); we’ll return for a Lost Classics Holiday installment the week of December 14, and then return to our regularly scheduled programming in January.

In the meantime enjoy this lost classic from our archive:

Lost Classics of Teen Lit: 1939-1989

When it’s all over, Stella knows that nothing can ever be the same again. Not for Stella. Not for Christopher. And certainly not for Nicholas. Poor Nicholas.

Since That Party

Oh, if only the plot could live up to the cover Scholastic slapped on the 1972 reissue of  Swedish writer Inger Brattsröm’s 1964 novel! (Translation by Eve Barwell) So murky! So brown! So font-y!

The Plot: Brattström covers well-trod ground here: teenagers unthinkingly act selfishly, leads to tragedy. I don’t know if the nuance got lost in translation, but the end result is a pretty dull entry in the genre.

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Tiger Beat Presents: Teenage Love Stories By Sharon Lee and Liz Dagucon

We’re going into reruns for the next month, constant readers, so that I can work on another literary project (WATCH THIS SPACE!); we’ll return for a Lost Classics Holiday installment the week of December 14, and then return to our regularly scheduled programming in January.

In the meantime enjoy this lost classic from our archive:

Lost Classics of Teen Lit: 1939-1989

This is one of those books that is so much more crazy than the cover would indicate. In this case, when I paid 20 cents for it in an upstate New York thrift store, I did not realize how literally I supposed to take the cover. Make no mistake, this is a book about crying. The teenage girl-heroines, their boyfriends, their moms and dads all are in constant danger of floating away on a sea of tears.

Published by Tiger Beat, this is the first volume (!!!) of three short stories that targets an audience of girls who apparently don’t have enough to cry about in their own lives. I really have to rein in the urge to just quote line after line of the jaw-droppingly overwrought descriptions. But enough set up, let’s go to the stories:

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Wrapping Up The Imaginary Summer Book Club: The G-String Murders By Gypsy Rose Lee

(Click here for information on the 2018 edition of Molly’s Imaginary Summer Book Club Featuring Classics of Women’s Literature. As all of the four selected titles have filmed adaptations, we will be looking at the movie versions as we go along. This week, the September selection, Gypsy Rose Lee’s The G-String Murders

Just in time for Halloween, a spooky serviceable mystery set in the long-lost world of Union Square’s burlesque scene!

Similar to Ginger Rogers and the Riddle of the Scarlet Cloak, the story is narrated by Gypsy Rose Lee, but not the Gypsy Rose Lee who was a top-paid “ecdysiast”, sometimes Hollywood second banana, and whose autobiography would provide the source material for the wildly successful Stephen Sondheim musical (and subsequent film). No, instead this is the Gypsy Rose Lee who is playing the small time in Columbus, Ohio, “down to the last punch on my meal ticket”, when she is finally summoned by burlesque impresario H. I. Moss to New York for a run at his flagship theater, The Old Opera House (GIRLS! GIRLS GIRLS! LAFFS! LAFFS! LAFFS! BOXING THURSDAY NIGHTS). Continue reading

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Polly French And The Surprising Stranger (#3) By Francine Lewis

Peru! Polly tried to visualize herself helping someone from Peru fit in comfortably at good old slam-bang Whitford High.

Rounding out this year’s annual collection of Whitman’s girls series titles is the final* volume in the Polly French series…

(*OR IS IT?????)

Background: I know over the past few years I’ve done a lot of complaining about Polly French and her chums, as they involve the whole town in a High School class election, aid and abet horse thievery, and generally square-dance around like idiots. Polly may be the dimmest of Whitman’s girl-heroines, to the point that they take pity on her and don’t bother giving her a mystery to solve (although the reader can try to solve the mystery of Is Polly Dating Her Cousin?)

That being said, I enjoyed this Polly French adventure more than the last two, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

The Plot: Those reasons mainly being that I wanted to see if Polly was going to cause an international incident when Whitford High hosts an exchange student from Peru. Continue reading

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Nurses Three: A Career For Kelly (#1) By Jean Kirby

Shy, sensitive Kelly found herself fighting for everything she had ever believed in…

Our annual round-up of Whitman Girls Series chugs right along this week with a favorite author… IN DISGUISE!

Background: I’ve noted before the reasons for the enduring popularity of Nursing as profession for YA heroines, so it’s no surprise that in the mid-1960s Whitman would take a pass at the genre. To their credit, they came up with a rather ingenious marketing concept: three young-adult daughters of a world-famous widower-surgeon, who each answer the calling. The Scott sisters- Coleen (called Kelly), Penny, and Tracy, each star in their own adventures, which Whitman has conveniently color-coded for us in (respectively) turquoise, yellow, and pink covers.

And does that snappy prose and swingin’ single gal plot seem familiar? Good eye, “Jean Kirby” is a Whitman pseudonym, in this volume standing in for Virginia Bleecher McDonnell, AKA Jinny McDonnell, the author of the dearly-missed Kim Aldrich series.

The Plot: And Kirby/McDonnell has a few surprising twists for us right away, as we pick up a few months into youngest sister Kelly’s training as a student nurse “probie” at Midwest General Hospital in suburban Chicago. Continue reading

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Ginny Gordon And The Mystery At The Old Barn (#3) By Julie Campbell

“A hillbilly singer with an accordion! Oh no, John. We are ruined.”

As fall continues, so do we with a selection of girls’ series published by Whitman in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. This week, we revisit Julie Campbell’s OTHER schoolgirl shamus of Westchester county, Ginny Gordon.

Background: I was surprised to find that it has been 5 years since the last Ginny Gordon title was reviewed here! When we last left 14 year old Ginny, her BFF Lucy Tryon, her wholesome, kinda-boyfriend John Blaketon and John’s twin cousins Whiz and Babs, they had opened a junk shop and thwarted various criminal schemes.

Campbell, in her surprisingly brief career, created two series for Whitman, took over writing duties on two popular Grosset & Dunlop series (Cherry Ames and Vicki Barr) and wrote one great Lost Classic novel before retiring within a decade of having started. Continue reading

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Checking In With The Imaginary Summer Book Club: Red-Headed Woman By Katharine Brush

(Click here for information on the 2018 edition of Molly’s Imaginary Summer Book Club Featuring Classics of Women’s Literature. As all of the four selected titles have filmed adaptations, we will be looking at the movie versions as we go along. This week, the August selection, Katharine Brush’s Red-Headed Woman

Kathrine Brush was a prolific documenter of the Jazz Age, through a number of short stories published in magazines such as Collier’s in the 1920’s and 1930s. Her 1930 novel Young Man of Manhattan was a top seller that year, and made into film starring Claudette Colbert and Ginger Rogers. But it is this novel, published the following year, that just saves Brush from complete obscurity in 2018, due to the very popular film adaptation, starring Hollywood’s most famous platinum blonde, Jean Harlow, as the unlikely title character. Continue reading

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