October 6, 2012

31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books: The Secret of the Mansion

I've always been a mystery girl. In kindergarten and first grade I was more of a Happy Hollisters/ Boxcar Children fan, but by second grade I was a diehard Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden fan. Nancy Drew was fun - but Trixie Belden was definitely my favorite.

As The Secret of the Mansion opens, Trixie is bored because her older brothers Brian and Mart are away at summer camp, and she's stuck at home with her little brother Bobby. But then on the same day she finds out that one neighbor - the elderly miser Mr. Frayne -  is dying, and the mansion on the other side of her family's farmhouse has new people moving in. The new people have a daughter named Honey, who is also 13, and Trixie convinces Honey to go with her to check out Mr. Frayne's house and see if they can find any clues as to the half million dollars that are supposedly hidden on the property. 

Trixie and Honey find not a fortune, but a boy - 15 year old Jim Frayne. He's the great-nephew and heir of old Mr. Frayne, who has run away from his abusive stepfather. He was hoping his great-uncle would take him in, but now that Mr. Frayne is in the hospital Jim doesn't know what to do. Trixie decides that they have to find Mr. Frayne's will, and prove that Jim is the heir and that his stepfather is beating him, so that Jim won't have to go live with him again.

This sets off all sorts of adventures: in the space of a week, between them Trixie, Honey, and Jim survive a bicycle crash, a copperhead bite, diving into a too-shallow part of the lake, falling off a horse, falling off a horse another time, falling off a ladder, a house fire, and various other adventures. I like that they're adventurous, spunky kids - but they're also very nice and polite to their elders, and Trixie always does her chores before dragging Honey into shenanigans.

I had so much fun re-reading this that I think I'm going to have to re-read some more of the series. The Secret of the Mansion focuses almost exclusively on these three kids, since Brian and Mart are only briefly mentioned - but I know in later books the Belden brothers play a bigger role, and so does Diana Lynch, who hasn't been introduced yet. The six kids together form the "Bob White of the Glen" - a club devoted to solving mysteries, which take place over more than 30 books.

I seriously adored the Trixie Belden books as a kid - and they stand the test of time pretty well, because The Secret of the Mansion was still really fun. Granted, "Trixie" and "Honey" sound like stripper names to me now... but I can still overlook that in favor of how great these are. I'd highly recommend these for elementary age mystery fans - whether boys or girls.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommended age: 8 and up

'Fess up: any other Trixie Belden fans out there?  

This post is day six of my 31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.