Renowned for its prolific publication of children’s series, the Stratemeyer Syndicate entered the publishing world of the early twentieth century as the brainchild of writer and editor Edward Stratemeyer. Stratemeyer’s lifelong love of children’s stories led him to create numerous series, such as The Rover Boys and The Hardy Boys, which captured the imaginations of youth and sought to instill morality and good citizenship. As such, each series fostered by the Syndicate followed Stratemeyer’s formulaic approach and, though penned by ghostwriters, began as an outline set forth by Stratemeyer himself. Upon Stratemeyer’s death in 1930, his daughter Harriet Adams appropriated leadership of the Syndicate and moved forward with her father’s ideas and some of her own—a combination most notably evidenced with the genesis of Nancy Drew. Despite the Syndicate’s overall success as a publishing magnate, its very approach led to controversy over the years, and it is this that Christine Keleny first implements to draw readers into her fascinating work of nonfiction.
“Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up” opens with and is bookended by the 1980 court trial battle between Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Grosset and Dunlap. In between, however, Keleny masterfully takes readers on a historical journey through the lives of the Stratemeyers and their descendants, from the boyhood dream of Edward to Harriet’s carrying the torch years later. Make no mistake, however; this is no dry family history. On the contrary, “Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up” offers a spellbinding account of how some of childhood’s most legendary heroes and heroines came into being, and why they continue to attract audiences even in the twenty-first century. An accompanying bibliography gives readers fodder for additional research as well.
I was provided with a complimentary copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.