The last week of September is Banned Books Week, which always reminds us how The Happy Hollisters and other Stratemeyer Syndicate children’s mystery series (like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins) have been shunned over the years (if not completely banned) by many librarians and book reviewers. Can you imagine these squeaky clean stories being rejected by librarians?
The Wall Street Journal ran a story on January 15, 1975, explaining how the Stratemeyer Syndicate’s children’s series were surviving quite well despite the objections of librarians. Many librarians had felt that these series books did not meet their standards for literary quality, and they would not grant them space on their shelves.
Later, on January 24, 1975, Stratemeyer partner and author Andrew Svenson (aka Jerry West, Franklin W. Dixon, and Laura Lee Hope), was interviewed by Bob Hardy on KMOX in St. Louis and explained why he wasn’t terribly concerned about the issue. He and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams knew that their children’s books appealed to millions of youngsters who then grew up and shared the same books with their children and grandchildren, providing a built-in, nostalgic durability. Despite the librarians’ hesitance to stock the books, children and their parents continued to buy the books, and sales stayed very healthy indeed!
It is fascinating to hear the voice of Andrew Svenson (aka Jerry West) as he addresses this topic and more. He also answers several call-in questions and explains why the Stratemeyer Syndicate used pseudonyms; his method of on-the-spot research for educational value; and even some advice for wannabe writers! Listen to the recording below, and let us know what you think!