First of all, I have to admit that this post is a little late--I wrote it early on in the month (and I was proud for having done it in such a timely manner), but then life happened, and it is now in the late evening hours on the last day of the month. The last day of the month wouldn't be such a horrible time to write a post if it weren't this particular post: My Childhood Challenge is to re-read one book from my childhood years per month (and blog about it). I very nearly missed my update on the challenge for the month. If only my schedule could operate around my blog posting...
This month, I chose to re-read one of the Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard. I loved the Mandie books when I was younger, and I owned quite a few from the series. My favorite of all the Mandie books was book #9: Mandie and the Hidden Treasure.
When I was 8, my family planned a road trip to Texas; for the road trip, I was able to get a new book. My mom took me to a Christian bookstore in Jefferson City and let me pick out any book I wanted from the shelves. The book that jumped out at me was Mandie and the Hidden Treasure. I was immediately attracted to the cover (shown above) because it featured three things that fascinated me: a Native American (I have, for a long time, been drawn into the culture and history of Native Americans), clothes that depicted a historical setting (i.e., the story took place a long time ago), and the words "hidden treasure" in the title. I think I fell in love with the book long before I even opened it to read the first page. It didn't matter to me that the book wasn't the first one in the series, as most the series that were published during the late 80s for younger readers were series that didn't have to be read from the beginning to end. In fact, I didn't start at book 1 for any of the series I read during my younger years.
During our family road trip that year, I sat in the fifth wheel with my sister as we drove to Texas (something I'm sure is highly illegal these days). We sat on opposite sides of the little kitchen table in the RV, bouncing down the highway, and I devoured the book. After reading the book, I became obsessed with finding a hidden treasure of my own and, within a year after finishing the book, became very attached to an old dilapidated building partially hidden in the woods that I saw on every trip to Jefferson City (we lived about 45 minutes away from Jefferson City and did all our "big city" shopping there). Every time I saw the building, it inspired me to daydream about my own adventures and what treasures I might find hidden in it. The daydreams usually ended up with me finding a locket: I remember there was a locket in Mandie and the Hidden Treasure, which makes me think that a locket is what was buried and was the hidden treasure Mandie looked for.
I loved the book as a kid, and I was excited to re-read it when I picked it up at the beginning of the month.
Sometimes I forget how redundant books can be that are meant for young readers--important details get repeated to help young readers keep up with the storyline. While that repetition is good for young readers, it can drive seasoned readers bonkers. If you are an adult wanting to read the Mandie books for the first time, I will warn you that you will need to skim in quite a few areas to get over the repetition. For example, the book starts out with three characters (Mandie, Joe, and Sally), who have found an old map that claims it leads to a buried treasure. The characters talk about the map, the locations on the map, and the distances between those locations as they are marked out on the map. In two pages, the directions are repeated three times. I don't remember ever having problems with the writing style of the Mandie books when I was younger, so I'm assuming the repetition didn't bother me then.
When I posted about re-reading Sign of the Beaver, I found it interesting that my one clear memory of the book had little to nothing to do with the overall storyline of the book. The same thing happened with this book: The locket I so fondly remembered played a minute role in the book and was not the hidden treasure Mandie was tracking down. That goes to show how memories are not pristine.
I have to admit that I was a little let down when I finished Mandie and the Hidden Treasure. The re-reading didn't live up to my expectations that had been built based on my original love for the Mandie books. The book wasn't well written, but its storyline did focus on topics that still intrigue me (who doesn't dream of finding an old map that will lead to a forgotten treasure?). I can see why I liked the book when I was younger, but the writing was a major roadblock to my enjoyment of the book as a more mature reader.
While I was disappointed, I did not--and still do not--regret re-reading the book. I don't have any immediate plans to re-read any of the other Mandie books, but I also don't have any plans to get rid of any of the Mandie books still gracing my bookshelves. I love the books for what they were--they were what I needed when I was younger to encourage my budding 'joie de lire.' Even the disappointment of not being blown away by the book as an adult reader cannot erase my memories of the joy I got when I read and re-read the books when I was younger.