Teen-Agers, Unite! By Charles M. Schulz

The “Peanuts” Gang Grows Up! A Great New Collection of Riotous Cartoons By Charles M. Schulz

I don’t even remember where I picked up this oddball collection- the generic hand-lettered price tag only tips me off that it was NOT Salvation Army or Goodwill and PROBABLY not my usual Library Book Sale.

That tagline Bantam went with is all lies; it would accurately read:

Weirdly Elongated Versions Of Peanuts-Lookalikes In a Collection of Chronically Unfunny, Vaguely Religious-Themed Cartoons That Seem Like A Money Grab…

These are actually a collection of cartoons called Young Pillars, which he did for a Church of God youth magazine in the 1950s and 60s (hence the religious flavor to a number of them). Another blogger informs us that these were also reprinted under the [sophomoric snicker] title Teen Nuts. 

The caption on the cover is hard to read in the thumbnail, but it says:

“I can never remember… Are we uniting FOR something or AGAINST something?”

Which is the Prom Trouble level of humor at work throughout the collection: Teenagers! Everything they do is dumb and I don’t understand it!

Which considering how Schulz is usually revered for capturing the child’s point of view, is actually pretty disappointing. Continue reading

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The Back Of The Book Part II: (Still) More From Seventeen, May 1978

So, a big THANK YOU for eveyone who shared their memories about the fat camps, boarding schools of questionable repute, and get-rich-quick schemes that Seventeen was trying to sell to the impressionable teens of 1978. They were a blast to read! This week…

…We’ll look at the one last category of back-of-the-book advertising: insane personalized merchandise. Continue reading

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The Back Of The Book Part I: More From Seventeen, May 1978

As voted upon by YOU, THE READERS, this week we take a second look at the May, 1978 issue of Seventeen, specifically the tiny, black & white advertisements for teenage dreams and schemes.

As a Seventeen reader in the early 1990s, I have to admit that I barely glanced at these ads, except for noting that the stock photos and clip art seemed vaguely outdated. There is a reason for that: Seventeen basically had a roster of these advertisers (boarding schools, weight-loss camps, junior colleges, career opportunities) and some of them used the exact same ad for DECADES.

For the May issue, they put the Fat Camps up front: Continue reading

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Movie Madness and/or Mania: Snowbound (1978)

Welcome back, Constant Readers and thank you for casting a vote in last week’s poll to determine what ELSE we should look at inside a 42-year old issue of Seventeen magazine. With a full 50% of the vote, we shall take a look at the assorted, vaguely supposititious-sounding goods and services advertised in the tiny, black and white advertisements in the back of the magazine. Next week!

These are strange times, and I want to match these times with equally strange content. Also, all of the free-floating anxiety has withered my attention span to the size of a gnat’s. So in the coming weeks, I am going to feature some of the weirder, briefer, not-ready-for-Prime Time vintage teenage artifacts I have laying around the house, so be on the lookout for more magazine selections, comics, movies, advertising, maybe some music or other kinds of relics that can be shared in about 900 words or less. Continue reading

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Magazine Madness and/or Mania: Ideas For Hideous Entertaining from Seventeen, May 1978

Ah, the late 1970s. So many Earth Tones, so many ads for tanning oil. What did it mean to be a teenager 42 years ago? Well, I am actually rather unclear, because a lot of the content in this issue is identical to what you might see in any women’s magazines of the era. It’s like Hearst was building a Seventeen to Good Housekeeping pipeline. I mean, I had pretty much wrapped up my interest  in Seventeen by the time I started my freshman year of high school, but both the editorial and advertising content in this issue seems to be aiming for an older demographic. Continue reading

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Sal Fisher At Girl Scout Camp By Lillian S. Gardner

Fun – problems – surprises. Sharing them with Sal Fisher is like spending a thrilling summer at camp yourself!

“Thrilling”? Well, the thrills are of only the most gentle and reassuring kind, which was not my intention when the week started, but turned out to be just thing for this wild and crazy virus-fueled week!

Background: I don’t have a ton of info on the Sal Fisher books, but it appears she starred in three books about Girl Scouting between 1953 and 1959, and this is the final one in the series.

The Plot: And oh, is it reassuring to know that whether it is 1959 or 1989 or 2019, Girl Scout Camp has remained pretty much the same!

Sal, a recent fly-up up to Intermediate Scouting (which would make her about 9 years old) is SO EXCITED to finally be able to attend Camp Lenoloc with her older sister Jane. As the girls eagerly pack for the long bus ride from suburban New York or New Jersey (the geographic details are deliberately vague), Sal is only disturbed by the fact that she sees her BFF, Nancy, heading across the street with cook-out gear to her friend Mia’s house, having turned down an invitation to join the Fishers for a send-off dinner! Is life going on without her already??? Continue reading

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Dear Mom, You’re Ruining My Life By Jean Van Leeuwen

You always say parents and children should trust each other. Well, I trusted you.

This is the most mysterious book I have picked up for this project. While there are certain titles that the back-cover copy gives the potential reader very little idea what the story is about, this one goes further and doesn’t include any copy on the back cover at all! Flip it over and you just see Our Heroine’s legs and feet clad in hot pink socks (which is actually a minor plot point).

The Plot: It’s a lot of build up for not much pay off, because this story turns out to be about the very low-stakes conflicts between a middle schooler and her mother, that doesn’t even go all in on the faux-diary format. Continue reading

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Cute Is A Four-Letter Word By Stella Pevsner

You are about to witness… The Year of the Clara!

I wasn’t very impressed by Stella Pevsner’s Call Me Heller, That’s My Name, a pretty generic coming of age story about a tomboy becoming a young lady in the roaring 20s,  when I reviewed it a few years back. This one touts that Pevsner received a Carl Sandberg Award for it… but it’s unclear exactly what that IS. An award by that name is given out annually by the Friends of the Chicago Public Library, and recipients include heavy hitters such as Judy Blume, Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, Tom Wolfe and Kurt Vonnegut, but the awardees listed on their website only goes back to the year 2000.

The Plot: While I found this one marginally more entertaining than Call Me Heller, for goofball cheer squad-adjacent antics, I still prefer The Plot Against the Pom-Pom Queen.

The book opens as incoming eighth grader Clara Conrad sees her older sister Laurel head off to Julliard to study piano, which has been her lifelong passion and single-minded goal in life. Now that it is just her and her widowed mother, Clara is determined that things will be different in eighth grade: she’s going to ditch babysitting the annoying kid next door and finally do something for herself for once! Namely, make the Pom Pon Squad, become popular, and win Skip Svoboda,  the hunky captain of the basketball team for herself. Continue reading

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Sticks And Stones By Lynn Hall

One word was enough to destroy his life…

“Bury your gays” is the trope in fiction which rules that gay characters die (frequently by their own hand) before the end of the story. Especially prevalent until the mid-20th century (when authors like Marijane Meaker and Ann Bannon had their characters emerge somewhat worse for the wear but at least still alive), one of the best known examples remains Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play The Children’s Hour, in which two female school teachers are hounded by gossip that ends up in tragedy.

Lynn Hall, who mainly seems known for her horse-books and dog-books, seems like an odd choice for basically retelling the same story with young men in a high school setting, but ending with a climax that is rather jaw-dropping.

The Plot: Tom Naylor and his recently-divorced mother have moved from Chicago to her ancestral home of Buck Creek, Iowa and opened a local antique shop. Despite showing up halfway into his Junior year, Tom seems to have fit in with relative ease, effortlessly making new friends, becoming a top student and distinguishing himself as a musical talent. His comparative sophistication has also inspired many crushes amongst the female underclassman, and he himself is feeling confident about the possibility that Karen, a girl of similar interests and talent, might return his interest. Continue reading

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