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Sisters, Schoolgirls, and Sleuths

Girls series books have been popular since the early 1840s, when books about Cousin Lucy, a young girl who learns about the world around her, first appeared. Since then, scores of series books have followed, several of them highly successful, and featuring some of the most enduring characters in fiction, such as Nancy Drew. In recent decades, series books like The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High have become staples for young readers everywhere. In Sisters, Schoolgirls, and Sleuths: Girls' Series Books in America, Carolyn Carpan provides a social history of girls' series fiction published in America from the mid-19th century through the early 21st century. Carpan examines popular series, subgenres, themes, and characters found in approximately 100 series, noting how teenage girls are portrayed in girls' series fiction and how girls' series reflect or subvert the culture of the era in which they are produced. Her study also focuses on the creation, writing, and production of such books. This is the first study of American girls' series books to examine the entire genre from its beginnings in the 1840s to the present day, revealing facts about a sub-genre of children's and young adult literature that has rarely been studied. Appendixes in this volume include a listing of the girls' series covered in the book as well as important books about girls' series fiction.
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About the Author

Carolyn Carpan is director of Public Services in the Burke Library at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. She is the author of Rocked by Romance: A Guide to Teen Romance Fiction (2004) and Jane Yolen (2005).


An interesting, detailed, easy-to-read look at the birth, development, and current state of series books for girls...As a first chronological genre study of girls-series books, Carpan's study complements other books on the subject. Recommended. CHOICE Many of us know Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, but this compendium provides the broader background of what came before them and what we see now as series books for girls...This well-written and thoroughly researched volume follows the changes that Nancy Drew underwent. This intriguing history is for anyone interested in how we went from innocent Elsie Dinsmore to 'Sweet Valley High' and 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.' University libraries will be particularly interested in this title. School Library Journal Carpan chronicles the history of this genre in a highly readable narrative. It is also a unique reference source. Students of history, literature, and gender studies will find it informative and enlightening. Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) This makes an excellent reference for any library strong in young adult fiction or women's studies. Midwest Book Review Tracing the history of series books for girls from 1840 to the present, this book... may find a small audience with those researching literary or publishing history and would appeal more to library professionals than to teen readers. VOYA

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