“Whenever I write about a foreign country, I travel there first and do research on the spot. I love to see new places and meet new people and get lots of ideas for my books that way.”

Andrew Svenson,

also known as “Jerry West,” author of The Happy Hollisters

A young Happy Hollisters fan wrote to “Jerry West” in 1958, wanting to know how the large Hollister family could afford such frequent and extravagant vacations. She said her family of three could benefit from the Hollisters’ budget information to plan their own trips.

Fortunately, since they were a fictional family, the Hollisters’ travel budget was unlimited, and the Happy Hollisters were able to travel all over the world in search of clues, from the Florida Everglades to the Swiss Alps.

Another fan wrote that she loved the series because no matter where the Hollisters were in the world, she felt as though she was right there alongside them, seeing the sights and helping them solve their mysteries.

This unique authenticity comes from the on-the-spot research that went into each book well before the writing even started. Andrew Svenson loved to travel, experiencing local customs, visiting museums, and sampling the cuisine of each location. He kept detailed travel journals, where he jotted down ideas for future books, and he supplemented his memories with photographs of the landmarks he visited and the people he met. He mailed postcards back home to his family and often purchased souvenirs and trinkets to help him remember his experiences. Many of these items—from a small replica of a totem pole to a weather balloon borrowed from the National Weather Service—were then sent to artist Helen S. Hamilton as guides for her illustrations in the books.

From reading Andrew Svenson’s diaries and correspondence, we have learned that many characters in the books were actually based on people he met in his travels. For example, in The Happy Hollisters and the Swiss Echo Mystery, Johann Meyer, the insurance investigator who goes missing in a small plane, is based on Dr. Armin Meyer, a Swiss publishing executive and amateur pilot who took Andrew up for a memorable flight over the Alps. Another character, Karl Sveinsson in The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Midnight Trolls, was inspired by Ásmundur Sveinsson, a sculptor Andrew met on his 1968 research trip to Reykjavik.

If your family would like to see the world, but you don’t have the time (or your travel budget is as fictional as the Hollisters’), you can live vicariously through the Happy Hollisters’ adventures and visit all of the places listed below from the comfort of your own home. Be sure to send us a postcard!

Alaska (#15, Mystery of the Totem Faces)

Boston (#12, Old Clipper Ship)

Canada (#6, Snowflake Camp; #16, Ice Carnival Mystery)

Cape Cod (#3, Sea Gull Beach)

Denmark (#18, Mystery of the Little Mermaid)

Florida (#8, Circus Island; #19, Missile Town; #26, Sea Turtle Mystery)

Germany (#24, Cuckoo Clock Mystery)

Iceland (#33, Mystery of the Midnight Trolls)

Italy (#27, Punch and Judy Mystery)

Mexico (#31, Mystery of the Mexican Idol)

Nevada (#20, Cowboy Mystery)

New England (#28, Whistle-Pig Mystery; #29, Ghost Horse Mystery)

New Mexico (#4, Indian Treasure; #5, Mystery Mountain)

New York City (#17, Mystery in Skyscraper City; #23, Castle Rock Mystery)

Puerto Rico (#13, Lizard Cove)

Switzerland (#25, Swiss Echo Mystery)