A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lots and lots of detailed information about Nancy Drew, once mocked for its girl hero's improbable feats but now a cultural icon that emerges in new forms for each generation. Such fascinating bits as "who was Carolyn Keene?" (it depends -- the pseudonym was dreamed up by an enterprising publisher and used by several authors over the years), what the color of a book's spine tells you, and the like, are plentiful. There's also plenty of opportunity to discuss how content that seemed fairly normal in the 1930s would appear really offensive just a few decades later. Along the way, mentions of other books, like The Hate U Give and Speak (on a Banned Books table), and Sweet Valley High as an example of someone else's taste. Storytelling and a class moviemaking project are a big part of the story, so there's lots about the crafts and skills involved.
"Nobody can treat you like a lamp if you act like a spotlight." "It hurts if you're part of the story someone doesn't want to tell anymore." Discussion of divorce, and how sometimes it's the right thing to do.
Positive Role Models
Eleven-year-old budding filmmaker Maizy comes from a loving family and dealing with change, as her older brother is off to college and her best friend Izzy is suddenly more fickle in her friendship. Reconnected friend Nell and new friend Cam join her in a deep dive into Nancy Drew world, with a goal of solving a mystery (where did those books come from?) and also, as events unfold, reuniting Maizy's grandmother and her own long-estranged best friend. Their quest involves them in some unexpected adventures, such as inadvertently crashing a funeral and winding up with child-care duties -- an experience that has unexpected rewards later. Lots of engaging peripheral characters, as well as a Nancy-hating librarian who learns better ways.
Much attention to the racism and cultural stereotyping in the original books, fairly typical of the era but soon seen as objectionable. Also to the uneven success of addressing these issues in revisions and later works. In the current story, character Nell's dad is from India and she often visits his family there Character Cam (and her twin brother) are seen with dark skin and curly hair in the illustrations.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An emerging rift between BFFs Maizy and Izzy because Izzy Is suddenly a lot more interested in boys than Maizy is.
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Products & Purchases
The entire story is inseparable from the Nancy Drew franchise, but includes no specific calls to purchase.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
As an example of the racism and revisionism of the early series, the author notes in the afterword that a character first presented as a drunken, Black ex-con reappears in the next version as White, sober, and upstanding.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sisterhood of Sleuths, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertmans and illustrated by Vesper Stamper, in many ways, an extended infomercial for the Nancy Drew multimedia franchise, but also a sweet, often poignant tale of friendships lost, found, and sometimes rekindled after long estrangement. Steeped in the world of Nancy Drew fandom, the book finds 11-year-old girls on a quest to discover what's behind the sudden arrival of a box of old Nancy Drew books on the doorstep, especially when it proves to also contain an old photo of one girl's grandmother (who denies all knowledge) with two other women. Along the way, the girls learn a lot about the series (now in its third, 2007 revision), its history, the problematical content of the original stories (especially racism), the numerous adaptations to changing times, Nancy-themed academic conferences, and lots of related product. Aside from being a great choice for adult Nancy fans to pass to the next generation, it also includes a lot of wisdom and life lessons about friendship, change, and reconciliation.
Is It Any Good?
Friendships lost, found, and rekindled intertwine across generations in a lively, relatable tale that's also an ode to Nancy Drew, a deep dive into history, and a fun adventure. As a new generation of 11-year-olds discover the iconic girl detective and delve into a mystery of their own, there are lots of wildly unlikely coincidences, ridiculous situations, and remarkable emergence of specialized talents and big reveals at just the right moment -- just like in the original. And that's part of the charm. As protagonist Maizy muses, "There's something about all the twists and turns in Nancy's story that has me hooked. No matter what happens, Nancy can handle it.
"Injured pigeon falls at your feet? Nancy takes care of it.
"Sinister man who might abduct you? Nancy knows what to do."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.