We are heading in a slightly different direction with this review; the first Bobbsey Twins post was an overview of the 1980s Wanderer series, which Sean followed with reviews of two of the New Bobbsey Twins books; The Secret of Jungle Park and The Case of the Close Encounter.
All these posts came under the banner of ‘If you like Blyton’, and were recommendations. This one is different as Sean chose it to highlight how different the latter books of this series are.
With Blyton a few of her series show a decline in quality towards the end. Most people agree that the final Famous Five book (Five Are Together Again) is the weakest. I personally find the second-last book (Five Have a Mystery to Solve) rather weak too, but there is a variety of opinions as to which point the series declined. Some people think everything after book 12 was poor, others think there are some highlights in the second half – but few can agree upon exactly which books were the high points!
The final Five Find-Outers book (The Mystery of Banshee Towers) is the weakest according to most readers, the final Secret Seven has several inconsistencies and is not amongst the best entries.
But Enid Blyton was a single author who, as she aged, found her health and memory declining. Her stand alone titles towards the end of her career also declined in quality, and so it wasn’t as simple as each series declining, but her general work declining from around 1960 onwards.
The Bobbsey Twins were written by ghost-writers from the Stratmeyer Syndicate, and while it’s possible one ghost-writer’s writing quality declined as the series went on it is unlikely, as the beauty of ghost-writers are you can replace one with another and your readers are none the wiser. From reading Sean’s review it looks more like someone in the Syndicate decided to take the series in a slightly different direction, a direction I’ll let his review explain to you.
This could still be considered an ‘if you like Blyton’ post, but only if it come after ‘one to avoid!’.
The Super-Duper Cookie Caper
Warning: Spoilers and snide comments to follow!
Ok, so here is my review on one of my least favourite Bobbsey books. For those of you that missed my earlier reviews, the New Bobbsey Twins series is a collection of 30 books written in the late ’80s and early ’90s starting the Bobbsey Twins as they solve puzzling conundrums.
The first 17 books of the series have the twins solving big mysteries including industrial spies, theft of secret government aircraft, a troubling theft on the set of a Hollywood movie, and other crimes that really sparked my tween imagination! The latter 13 books really lessened the stakes with such “crimes” as mischief at the science fair, a missing pig at the county fair, hijinks at sleepaway camp, and this gem-the mysterious disappearance of a cookie recipe!
In all fairness, maybe the publishers thought that they wanted to change the pace of the stories and have them involve things that kids would realistically be expected to encounter (after all, how many youngsters solve real crimes before they enter their teens?) However, the change was abrupt, and it was made at the worst time for me. The series lasted from 1987 to 1992, so I was 12 when it started, and about 17 when it finished. The books were written for what I would think would be ages 12-14 at first, and by 1990 when the change was made, I was in my mid-teens, and really wasn’t the age group they were aiming for.
Ok, backstory over-let’s get into this book:
It starts with Freddie (the 6 year old younger boy twin) wanting a bicycle. He decides to earn the money for it by selling chocolate cookies on weekends using his grandmother’s secret recipe. He enlists the help of his twin Flossie, (and their housekeeper Mrs Green helps with the oven baking), and they start selling cookies at the park on weekends. It starts off with them doing very well in sales, but alas-trouble rears its head! First, a mysterious stranger with flour on him buys a cookie and says they are just “all right”, one of their classmates decides to sell brownies, and Danny Rugg (the neighbourhood bully) makes trouble!
Older twins Bert and Nan (they are 12) suggest they put up flyers and go door to door with samples so they can take orders and get a jump on the brownie baking classmate. This works, and they do get quite a few orders for cookies. The next day, the four twins are in the kitchen baking, but they begin to get overwhelmed, burning a whole batch! What’s worse, the secret recipe goes missing! Was it stolen? Freddie suspects Brian (the kid selling brownies), especially after he says he is going to start selling cookies too!
Now, I know I complained about the lessening of the stakes, but I really do feel for Freddie at this point as he worries about getting his bicycle, and he is getting pretty stressed about the recipe being missing (the twins try to recreate it to bake more cookies, but they don’t turn out right).
More bad and suspicious things start happening. The man who had flour on his clothes came back to the park, and saw not only Freddie and Flossie selling cookies, but Brian selling brownies, and he got quite upset! Also, the older twins discover that the flyers they’ve been hanging up around the neighbourhood start mysteriously disappearing! Curiouser and curiouser as the saying goes! Bert and Nan follow the mystery man and discover that he owns a bakery, but they also clear him of the theft.
Freddie, meanwhile has a faux conversation in front of Brian, Danny, and some other kids saying that the next weekend, their grandmother is giving them another recipe-this one is to a super duper cookie like no other! The four go to the grocery store to put an assortment of ingredients in a cart thinking that they will catch one of the suspects with those same
ingredients in his cart. Turns out the recipe swiper was one of the neighbours who placed an order! She wanted to sell them at her husband’s newspaper, and she stole the recipe because she is such a terrible cook. (I’m not kidding, that was the plot!)
Like I said, the latter part of the series uses a different artist, and a different genre of mystery. I can’t recommend it
Never fear, Bobbsey fans! Next time, I’ll go back to a favourite story of the New Bobbsey Twins!