Goodreads: The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport
Series: Bobbsey Twins #1
The old Marden house is scheduled for destruction, but before it disappears forever, the elderly Mrs. Marden, now a resident in a nursing home, asks the two sets of Bobbsey twins to recover her hidden valuables. Unfortunately, she cannot remember where she placed them and someone else seems to be after them, too.
I grew up with Nancy Drew and was excited finally to open a Bobbsey Twins book. I had heard good things about the series and imagined it would contain many of the same characteristics I had enjoyed in Nancy Drew, accounting, of course, for the age difference in the young sleuths. I expected that, much like Nate the Great, the twins would investigate “mysteries” on a smaller scale, things that were local and probably would not have extremely serious consequences if not solved.
I assume the Bobbsey twins books are geared toward a slightly younger audience than the Nancy Drew books. The book thus keeps up a light tone throughout, taking many breaks from the solving of the mystery to depict the Bobbsey twins at play and at school. They, like many children, have to deal with a class bully or with the experience of caring for a new pet. Young readers may enjoy these interludes; they show the human side of the Bobbsey twins and depict a loving family dedicated to caring for each other. I, however, would have liked more action and more suspense. Watching the boys go on a camping trip simply does not provide the same thrill as exploring an old, “haunted” house.
The sense of danger also remained minimal. While Nancy frequently finds herself in situations that threatened her physically, the Bobbsey twins never have to worry about their lives. Even though an intruder repeatedly breaks into the old Marden house and warns the children away, they never feel frightened enough to stop exploring. More interestingly, the adults (whom the children responsibly keep updated on all their adventures) never advise the children to give up the treasure hunt, either. The community seems to possess some sort of understanding that no criminal, however hardened, would ever hurt a child. Their confidence made me feel better while reading—I could remain confident that the mystery would be solved with no loss of life for any six-year-olds or their cats—but it did take away from the suspense.
Finally, I should note that it is my understanding that the Bobbsey Twins series, like Nancy Drew, has undergone revisions throughout the years to remove traces of blatant racism. I picked up an older copy of The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport from a book sale. The two African Americans in the story still fulfilled stereotypical roles (Dinah works as a servant/cook for the Bobbseys and her husband Sam works under Mr. Bobbsey at the lumber yard; they live as renters with the Bobbseys and do not own their own home). However, if the story previously contained unfavorable commentary on the couple or on African Americans in general, it had been removed. Original versions of the story might contain more offensive language or passages and parents might want to perform some research on the content and discuss racism with their children.
Though the Bobbsey Twins provided a light way to while away the hours, I suspect that I would have enjoyed these mysteries more as a child. I prefer the more streamlined plots of the Nancy Drew stories and missed the sense of danger I usually feel when following a couple of investigators through a creepy house with a known criminal on the prowl. I will probably continue the series a bit to see how it develops, but do not feel particularly invested in the outcome.