Penny Warner,
The Official Nancy Drew Handbook
(Quirk, 2007)

Nancy Drew has been an institution in the United States since the early 20th century, when Grosset & Dunlap began publishing the adventures of the titian-haired girl detective and her chums Bess and George. Many is the young woman who wanted to grow up just like Nancy. Now, with Penny Warner's guidebook (subtitled Skills, Tips & Life Lessons From Everyone's Favorite Girl Detective), they can.

The small book, with a blue cover and a silhouetted Nancy-and-flashlight image meant to evoke one of the early cover designs, is deceptively dense. There are eight main chapters with plenty of smaller subdivisions, giving plenty of tips on how to emulate Nancy.

The book is an odd mixture of the truly helpful and the extremely tongue-in-cheek. For instance, "Foiling a Purse Snatcher" is based on recommendations from the FBI. But then there's a section on how to tell a good guy from a bad guy based on the often not politically correct portrayals in some of the older editions. Still, the book is obviously meant not to be taken too seriously and should be read mainly for a bit of eye-rolling fun.

My one complaint is that the text and illustrations are all cyan and yellow, as though the book were run on a color printer that had run out of both black and magenta inks, and it is often hard on the eyes.

review by
Laurie Thayer

6 June 2009

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