Saturday, August 8, 2015

Mystery at Redtop Hill by Marjory Schwalje

A Whitman Publishing hardback from 1965, this book may finally explain the origination of the word “Tween.” Having rediscovered it recently in a box, the book bears the statement “A Whitman Tween-Age Book – In-Between Books for In-Between Readers.” With illustrations and cover art by Charles Geer, I believe this one was purchased at Montgomery Wards. Innocuous and light-hearted, there is nothing too ominous here. Three happy-go-lucky but earnest “Tweens” – Nancy Wilson, Tod Wilson and Steve Lambert – are wondering why old Major Clyde Elting has become sullen. Who is the tall stranger they see visiting the Major? It turns out some investors want the Major’s property for a tourist development, but the kids help convince the Major that his property is fine the way it is. The conflict is heightened somewhat but not without the preferred results. Schwalje depicts her characters ably enough and the chapters race along. The book is memorable because of the overall presentation, with some color illustrations and even a map of Redtop Hill on the endpapers. My copy is slightly water damaged. I occasionally see this one at flea markets or in Used Book Stores. Marjory Schwalje has a few other books listed on Amazon but I know nothing about her. Mystery at Redtop Hill is a simple and enjoyable summer reading story with a great deal of charm. This title is primarily remembered fondly by 1960s era readers who enjoyed it like I did.

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