Monday, October 27, 2008

My First Mystery

by Julia Buckley
I was reminiscing today about my earliest books--the first ones I read alone. I think this one may have been my first mystery; I received it in the mail through a children's book club, back when snail mail was the only kind, and little children looked longingly in the box every day. Imagine my joy when there was a package there for me, every four weeks or so, with hardback books inside.

Big Max was a wonderful book involving a detective who traveled by umbrella; he was hired to solve a case for the King of Pooka Pooka, who had lost his beloved elephant. The story, looking back, seems a mixture of mystery, humor, and surrealism.

I can still remember the joy of discovering that book, but also the thrill of crime solving. I'm not sure if I figured out the ending or not, but I know the resolution was satisfying, even to my seven-year-old self. Eventually I moved on to such sophisticated fare as Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, then the Boxcar Children and Trixie Belden, and after that I read single-title suspense novels by authors like Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, Velda Johnston and Victoria Holt.

Big Max is still in print and available to a whole new generation of children (and perhaps future mystery lovers). I'm grateful to Kin Platt for my first mystery reading experience.

Which book introduced you to the world of mystery?


Bill Cameron said...

Mine is The Mystery of the Witches Bridge, which I talk about here:


Julia Buckley said...

Sounds great, Bill! I also forgot to mention Joan Aiken's THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE. The title alone is a classic.

Now I'll go read your post.

Paul Lamb said...

Undoubtedly a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories I read as a lad. I think I still have the book.

Julia Buckley said...

That's a great one, Paul! I've heard several men say that Sherlock Holmes was their favorite boyhood literature. And I know that some of those early volumes were beautiful, too. We had one in brown leather that I loved to look at; it also had beautiful full color illustrations.

Paul Lamb said...

Julia, my copy was an ex-library copy that had been rebound. I haven't opened it in decades. I should go upstairs tonight and look at it. Could be it was a digest version or something.

Julia Buckley said...

There's nothing like re-discovering an old book. It's the closest we get to time travel. :)