Book – The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene

What Would Nancy Drew Do?
What Would Nancy Drew Do?

I’m way behind in posting by book posts, so hopefully I will catch up soon. Watch for more in coming in as holiday break gets here. Technically this was a re-read, but I very much enjoyed listening to this on tape during my drive to work recently. In fact, I liked it so much that I listened to it twice.

Nancy’s Best Advice

Nancy is on one of those overnight trips in which she throws together an elegant overnight bag. In fact, Nancy always keeps a packed bag in the trunk of her blue convertible for emergencies, a very good piece of advice that I follow in real life. It’s gotten me out of a couple of different jams. Be like Nancy and always keep a packed overnight bag in your car!

Don’t Spoil the Plot

The main action of The Haunted Staircase proceeds on two fronts. First, Nancy’s father, Carson Drew, is dealing with an attempt to blackmail the railroad into giving property owners who had already sold more money. Second, a “ghost” is haunting Twin Elms, home to Nancy’s good friend Helen’s grandmother and great-grandmother. How is someone doing the haunting? Are there secret passages in the old house? Are there more than one? How are the two cases woven together? It keeps you wondering to the end as Nancy faces down a runaway truck, a collapsing ceiling, a cabby reluctant to talk, an owl, and a rude man. All this without Bess, George, or Ned yet being at her side.

Nancy Drew Is From Iowa and Other Lovely Things

The Hidden Staircase was originally written by Mildred Wirt Benson, an Iowa author who did a lot to make Nancy a competent, Midwestern girl. In fact this one is a bit of deviation because it plainly takes place in the East, somewhere where there are colonial plantations. Benson’s original books were written in the 1930s and, except for the stereotypical stock background characters, still make a good read with their description and depiction of everyday life.

I grew up on the edited down 1950s versions (yellow backs) and still have fondness for this set, although much of the description and character development was thrown overboard in an effort to lower reading level, decrease page numbers, and increase modernity. This recording was the 1950s version. I enjoyed it and Benson said it was one of her favorites. I especially enjoyed the secret passages and memorizing the pattern of walking up the steps without creaking which many years ago kept me, and I’m sure many other kids, busy trying to work out a pattern for our steps at home. Nancy Drew is a great dream (she even rescues her father in this one). Pick one up and rediscover the dream today!

Want to learn more about Nancy Drew? Check out this episode of my podcast:

Episode 13 – Barbara Lounsberry Talks Nancy Drew
Join us for a very special Trundlebed Tales episode where we talk Nancy Drew and her author Mildred Wirt Benson.
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trundlebedtales/2011/05/26/trundlebed-tales-ep-13-barbara-lounsberry-talks-nancy-drew

UPDATED December 12 2017: I added a photo of me in a Christmas present the year I took it, a What Would Nancy Drew Do? t-shirt. I also clarified and added a couple of sentences and the headings. Plus I added a link to my Nancy Drew podcast.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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Sarah Uthoff - Trundlebed Tales

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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