Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nancy Drew, Shame On You ...

I decided to read the kids a Nancy Drew book. I grabbed my copy of The Mystery At Lilac Inn off the bookshelf. It is imprinted with a copyright from 1930, so it is one of the originals it would seem. A few pages into it, my son announced that he knew what would happen next - the dinosaurs would go extinct. I think it was the way the characters "alighted" from "roadsters" on their way to "luncheons" that gave him the impression that the book was a bit antiquated. It wasn't long after that I read my way into some alarmingly racist references. I was appalled, stared at the page for a moment, and then slammed the book back on the shelf announcing that we would find something else to read that was less offensive. The kids alternately stared at me, each other, and their own eyebrows even as they sported "Elvis lips". My son said, "Sure." And he scrambled away from the table to grab a basketball and head outside.

Augh! I had saved these books from my childhood to share with my own daughter. The more I thought about it the more bothered I became, so I did a little Nancy Drew Racism Googling. I found this:

As the mother of rather colorful children with skin of various shades of browns I guess I might be more sensitive than most, and oddly when I read the books myself as a child I never noticed these offenses. Either I sped-read my way over them or was so caught up in the mystery that I missed them. Maybe in the innocence of childhood I just didn't "get it". My older eyes, my older heart, my mothering mind caught them, and I am saddened.


This isn't the first classic that has gone unfinished in my house. Some I have read and tried to leave out the offensive parts with intolerant references to skin colors and ethnicities. That is a difficult way to read a book aloud. I have heard that Nancy's books have been revised to modernize her haughty ways, but I'm afraid to try them. If any of you have read updated Nancy Drew mysteries please let me know your impressions.