What is the Story of Nancy Drew? (Who H.Q.) by Dana M. Rau #NancyDrew #BookReview #HarrietAdams #MildredWirtBenson

“When the very modern character of Nancy Drew first appeared in 1930, no one had a clue that she would remain a star for the next century! To this day, Nancy is still the main character in new TV shows, movies, and books. What makes her so interesting to so many generations of readers? Nancy can do it all! She’s a daring teenage girl who solves mysteries, expertly drives her famous blue car, cooks like a gourmet chef, swims like a pro, and more! Since her first appearance, the prodigy detective has inspired young readers to believe that they can do it all, too.”

What is the Story of Nancy Drew? (Amazon US Paperback) (Amazon US Hardcover) (Amazon UK) (Audible.com) is the latest in the popular children’s series books that started with Who Was or Who is. Now they’ve moved on to What is and the series is as popular as ever; my girls’ former k-8 school had a ton of these books. I’ve read a few and found them to be accurate and interesting, allowing children to read about people and events. Now they’ve tackled my beloved Nancy Drew. How accurate and compelling would they make her story?

This book is a great introduction to my favorite teen sleuth. It starts with her origin, created by Edward Stratemeyer in 1930, a publisher of popular book series’ like The Rover Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, and starting in 1927, The Hardy Boys. With the smashing success of the Hardy Boys, Stratemeyer decided to create a girls’ detective series book. He wrote 3-3 page outlines and sent them to a 24-year old writer named Mildred Augustine Wirt. Wirt was paid the princely sum of $125 per book and based on those rough outlines, wrote the first three books. She made Nancy smart and resourceful and fearless, curious and pretty and independent.

Sadly, Stratemeyer died twelve days after Nancy Drew hit the shelves in April 1930. His two daughters took over the syndicate, and eventually daughter Harriet took over completely. Meanwhile, with the exception of a couple of volumes, Wirt continued to churn out the books. Of the first 30 books, she wrote 23 of them. However, she did not see eye-to-eye with Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; they each had a different vision of Nancy, and ultimately parted ways. Harriet took over writing the books in the mid-1950’s.

The book goes on to describe what a ghostwriter does, like Wirt, and the two most prominent artists for the series, Rudy Nappi & Russel Tandy. There’s a discussion of how Nancy changed with the times, how Harriet Adams began revising the 25-chapter books down to 20, quickening the pace, removing racial stereotypes and updating Nancy’s car from a roadster to a convertible. The artists also updated her look, and the once wavy-haired blonde became titian-colored.

Included in the book are the other Nancy Drew media, whether it be the 1957 board game, the 1973 cookbook, or the 1930’s movies starring Bonita Granville to the 1970’s TV series starring Pamela Sue Martin. There’s mention of the popular video games and the current CW series, as well as the 2007 and 2019 movies.

In the paperback edition, there’s a pull-out timeline mentioning key dates in Nancy’s 90-plus year history. There is no timeline in the hardcover version, oddly enough. The online edition includes the timeline with the cover art for the various spinoff series. And speaking of artwork, I’m not sure I like the artist’s rendition of Nancy throughout the book. Through my years of collecting Nancy Drew, I’ve always concentrated on having a copy of the different cover art because I love the way Nancy changes over time. However, the internal illustrations in this book are kind of disappointing.

While the bibliography lists a few sources that are outdated or information in them has proved to be wrong, overall it’s a solid start for the young Nancy Drew fan.

For my Nancy Drew book reviews, click here.

For more information about my favorite sleuth, check out Jenn Fisher’s Unofficial Nancy Drew website, which has a wealth of information.

For more information on series books, Jennifer White has a fabulous website that you can visit by clicking here.

For more of my book reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com

Or subscribe below and never miss a review.

Join our Facebook page Bargain Sleuth Book Reviews or join our book group here.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a few pennies for any purchases you make by clicking the links in this post. These monies are at no additional cost to you and help offset the cost of web hosting.