So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mary Louise by L. Frank Baum writing as Edith Van Dyne

L. Frank Baum wrote book series for girls under the nom de plume Edith Van Dyne. Mary Louise is the first of a series featuring Mary Louise, a plain ordinary rich girl whose grandfather is wanted by the State Department. The novel starts with Mary Louise in a private boarding school while living with her grandfather and mother in a small town. All is well and she has been getting very close to the old man until he is recognized by a stranger staying at the hotel. It is then that Mary Louise's family steals away in the night leaving her alone at the school to face the sudden knowledge that her grandfather is a wanted criminal.

She doesn't know where he is or why the government is seeking him, but she knows deep in her heart that he is too good to have done anything wrong. Watched by secret agents who seek to find the old man through her, Mary Louise must find her way through a cloud of suspicion. The book is the story of how she goes about seeking to find her grandfather and to prove his innocence. A very good adventure story but it is plagued by Baum's stereotyping of black servants and a disabled friend that he refers to as "the chair-girl" because of her wheel chair. An interesting glimpse into the children's books of the early 20th century.


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