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Rita Allen

Shelbyville-Bedford County Library

Rita Allen is director of Shelbyville-Bedford County Library.

Sequels, prequels and more

Sunday, August 7, 2016

During my third grade year, if anyone asked, I told them that my favorite author was Laura Lee Hope. I devoured every Bobbsey Twins book I could get my hands on.

I was a faithful caretaker of the various editions from my mother's day that were available on the family bookcase, as well as the ones I could check out from school or buy at the F.W. Woolworth store when we went to Sandpoint, Idaho, for groceries and other needs you couldn't fill in Trout Creek, Montana. I progressed to other series such as Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew, as I grew up.

I admit I was a bit embarrassed when I raised an enthusiastic hand during one of my first library education classes when asked if I had read books like this and the instructor sort of looked down her nose at me as if I were woefully misguided.

I don't hold that opinion of these books that I later discovered were produced by the ghostwriters of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Edward Stratemeyer, who died clear back in 1930, had more plots in mind than he had time to write stories so he hired a number of other people to help him produce all those beloved series. Sadly, for me, it turned out that Laura Lee Hope was make-believe.

If, as a child, your favorite author was Jerry West, Carolyn Keene, or Franklin Dixon, you are in the same boat as I am. Personally, though, I don't look down my nose at anyone for reading whatever they want to read. I am just delighted that people are reading and that we can provide you with things you enjoy. I think we should all be grateful for these series no matter who wrote them.

Sometimes, to our delight, new works by long dead authors are discovered and published. This was true of "What Pet Should I Get?" by Dr. Seuss. What a lovely addition to his beloved books! Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, died in 1964. Catering to the public fascination with Agent 007 (and I suspect with the handsome actors who play him in the movies, too,) it turns out that there have been sequels to the original twelve books written by eight other authors. Some of these are famous in their own right such as John Gardner and Jeffrey Deaver. There is even a spinoff series detailing the diaries of Miss Moneypenny written by Kate Westbrook.

Fan favorite, the late Robert B. Parker, has additions made to his stories by Ace Adkins, Robert Rotstein, and Michael Brandman. That's okay -- I would really miss Jesse Stone if he wasn't still fighting crime. After all the speculation, "Gone with the Wind," was given a sequel by Alexandria Ripley in 1991. It seems like that literary move was met with disappointment for the most part. If you are curious about other novelists who keep writing after their mortal end, take a look at Eric Van Lustbader writing as Robert Ludlum, various ghost writers for Tom Clancy, who passed away in 2013, or the works of the ghostwriter hired to complete works by V.C .Andrews after she died in 1986.

I recently told you how much I loved "The Boxcar Children," by Gertrude Chandler Warner, I just discovered that Patricia MacLachlan, of "Sarah, Plain and Tall," fame, has gone a different direction and written a prequel called, "The Boxcar Children Beginning." I am taking that one home myself tonight.

I must confess that I haven't worked my way up to what I call "Zombie Classics." Titles such as "Alice in Zombieland" and "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," will never be my cup of tea. How's that for covering a lot of ground? I made it from the Bobbsey Twins to Zombies in six paragraphs!

-- Rita Allen is director of Shelbyville-Bedford County Public Library.Sequels, prequels, and more

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