Thursday, July 26, 2012

Meeting Trixie Belden (A Good Reading Summer Continues)

We are on the eve of our last day of arts camp. Our last day! Seven weeks ago, I would have told you, fainthearted as I am, that we would never make it. But the last day is tomorrow, the closing program tomorrow night, and by this time tomorrow we will all, I hope, be exhausted but happy. Instead of just plain exhausted.

Seriously, it's been a good but highly tiring summer. I'm battling a headache and sore throat and feel like I am limping to the finish line, so I will save my lengthier arts camp ruminations for another time. Tonight I just had to pop in to celebrate the ongoing richness of our family's reading summer. Because the sweet girl has fallen in love with the Trixie Belden books.

To fully understand my glee over this, you'd have to be transported back to a pink bedroom circa 1976. There's a rocking chair in there, a window overlooking the back patio, a record player in a tan plastic case, and a shelf full of Trixie Belden books I'd inherited from my oldest sister.

How I loved those books. I read the eight we had -- devoured would be the better word -- and then began scooping up more. Fortunately there were lots to be had in the 1970s because Trixie was back "in" -- so much so that they'd begun writing new books in the series. I read them all and loved them all (well, except for the last four or five) and I still have some of my old copies, including the battered cameos I got from my sister. How I wish I had them all.

Random House reissued some of the earlier books in the series back a few years ago, and I picked up the first two to give as gifts to the sweet girl. I put them in a closet and -- well, I didn't forget about them exactly, but somehow they faded from prominence (stuff in closets tends to do that). The time finally felt right this summer and she got them for her 10th birthday. We were in the middle of our Prydain summer at the time, so everything else had to go on hold, but a couple of weeks or so ago, we took the dive. Knowing how much these books meant to me in my childhood, the sweet girl asked if we could begin them aloud -- and it has been SO much fun to read these to her. I practically know the first half-dozen books (written by original author Julie Campbell) by heart, and reading them aloud has been terrific fun.

And she's fallen in love with them too. At first I thought she was being extra kind to Mommy -- but no, I can tell. She's laughing in all the same places I laughed and on the edge of her seat in all the same places too. Honey is her favorite character so far, though she just met Brian and Mart, Trixie's older brothers, last night. (We're in the middle of Gatehouse, the third book and my favorite.) We've got Mysterious Visitor, the fourth book, on hold at the library already. (My copy, one of the "uglies" from the 1970s, is in too bad a shape to read -- those were the cheaply made hardbacks that tended to fall apart after your read them twice.)

It's been such a delight to introduce Trixie to my daughter. I had a lot of literary friends when I was a girl, a lot of them far more high-brow than Trixie, but she was the girl I could most easily picture myself actually being friends with. And the books were such a constant of my pre-teen years that I have distinct seasonal memories from a lot of the books -- times when I read Trixie in a patch of grass in the summertime yard, or curled up next to a small space heater in winter, or -- and I'm pretty sure this is a real memory -- after eating a thanksgiving dinner.

Now I can add another reading memory -- sitting on the front step of our little apartment, reading Gatehouse in the twilight while the sweet girl sipped tea in the big folding chair on the sidewalk and a bright moon smiled at us over the sycamores across the street. I hope there will be lots more Trixie reading memories to come.


Erin said...

Woohoo for the conclusion of arts camp! And so great that another reader is being drawn into such a super series. With my introduction to the books still fresh in my mind - and several books still yet to read - I can definitely appreciate that joy of discovery. And if there's a book she wants to read that you or the library don't have, there's a better-than-50-percent chance I do, so just give me a holler... :)

Erin said...

Also, I love that we have the same favorite character, at least so far. Thanks for being one my gateways into the many adventures of Trixie and friends!

Bonnie said...

I love reading about new, young readers discovering my favorite girl detective series! Thanks for the heads-up, Erin! Beth, you're a wonderful mother for passing on the the tradition!

Beth said...

Erin, I thought you would appreciate this! :) Thanks for posting it too -- fun to have other Trixie readers appreciate it as well.

I'll definitely let you know if we need to borrow any. I am totally kicking myself over not keeping every single one of my books. Actually, I never got rid of them (I wouldn't have) but they seem to have disappeared somehow, except for a handful I still have with me. Mom thinks it's possibly they are in a corner of their attic, but that's a treacherous little unfinished crawl-space nobody's been in for years. Hee. I know...I know...Trixie would not think twice about heading up to explore there. She'd likely find my books and (gleeps!) a new mystery too.

Beth said...

Bonnie, thanks! I confess I was a little nervous my daughter would give them a try for my sake but not latch onto them. I should have known better. Julie Campbell is working her magic yet again. And perhaps the love of Trixie is genetic!

Edna said...

I'm late to this--but I loved Trixie Belden! I have a Christmas photo (well, my parents do) from when I was about 8 or 9, hugging a set of the books that I received as a present. I still have all of them (through 21 anyhow). Trixie was my favorite, and Jim. And Dan, the bad boy! :-)

Beth said...

Oh, Edna -- hooray! Another Trixie fan! There is a photo of me on my 8th Christmas hugging Trixie Belden #4 -- I was SO excited because it was the one book missing from the first 9 I inherited from my sister.

Trixie and Jim were my favorites too. And oh yes, Dan was definitely the "bad boy" -- you got the feeling the author was definitely going for a James Dean kind of character!