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The Mystery of the Ivory Charm (1936)

af Carolyn Keene

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Serier: Nancy Drew (13)

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Nancy Drew determines whether an ivory elephant charm really protects its wearer from harm when she investigates the involvement of a member of the Bengleton Wild-Animal Show in a mysterious scheme.
1930s (137)
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This is the weakest yet of the original texts. 'The Mystery of the Ivory Charm' begins with Nancy, Bess, and George waiting on a train platform to return to River Heights after a long, and uneventful, vacation. The train is delayed, but they are delighted to see a circus train pull up to the station and begin unloading. The girls witness some of the exotic animals and are most impressed when a young Indian boy guides a bull elephant without using force. They are soon appalled when an older Indian man begins berating the boy and beating him for...not beating the elephant. It shows how lazy he is or something. Nancy, naturally, puts a stop to this and in the exchange with the man Rai, who becomes obsequious to the pretty white ladies, ends up being gifted a wondrous ivory charm in the shape of an elephant. There's no good reason why she's given the charm as the man later wants it back at any cost, but how else could a mystery begin?

The charm is supposed to have supernatural powers and bestow good luck on the bearer, but Nancy isn't fooled by that flimflam. On the train home it is discovered that the young boy, Coya, has stowed away. Nancy pays for his ticket and offers him a place to stay at her home and a job. One could just hire an eight-year-old boy and put him up over your garage back in 1937. Eventually, Nancy decides it would be worth educating the boy since he's so well-mannered and clearly better-than-average stock (THAT AGAIN). I'm shocked Nancy didn't prove her hypothesis about Coya's high birth by measuring the dimensions of his skull. Before we're through, a white lady with mystical pretensions, Miss Allison, appears along with several lackeys and a strange house with underground tunnels and trapeze equipment. I would say it makes sense in context, but it doesn't. The book is all nonsense.

Nancy's character here has some strong points as she fearlessly takes charge and is eminently sensible. She then refuses to notify the police even when events take a very serious turn. Every piece of the plot is flimsy and impossibly colonial and, yeah, pretty darn racist. I'm well aware of the historical context and social norms of the time, but there's no salvaging this one. The 1974 revision does little to correct the flaws.

Skip this one.

Nancy Drew Mysteries

Next: 'The Whispering Statue'

Previous: 'The Message in the Hollow Oak' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Apr 16, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
I only think I read this once as a kid, and I know why now. Simply put, the white colonialism that seeps into the pages is very much out of place with what we know about India now. This is one you can skip. ( )
1 stem DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
I absolutely loved Nancy Drew growing up. This was a series I latched on to for dear life and never let go. Anytime my mom and I would go to antique stores, we'd peruse the Nancy Drews and add them to the collection (oftentimes my mom had to make deals with me on how many I could buy). So, while I don't remember the exact details of each and every one, the entire series was amazing and really fed my love for reading (especially novels full of suspense and mystery). Thank you, Carolyn Keene, for giving us an intelligent female character to fall in love with in Nancy Drew! ( )
  justagirlwithabook | Aug 1, 2018 |
#13 What secret life-giving power does the exquisite ivory elephant charm contain? Can the trinket really protect its wearer from all harm? Nancy Drew finds out when the owner of the Bengleton Wild-Animal Show asks her to investigate one of the performers who may be involved in some mysterious illegal scheme.The girl detective’s assignment becomes complicated when the elephant trainer’s young assistant, Rishi, seeks refuge at the Drew home from his cruel foster father, Rai.While following clues to help the boy find his real father, Nancy learns about an eerie abandoned house. She is harassed by its strange owner, Anita Allison, and the fiendish Rai. How Nancy uses the ivory charm, reunites a maharaja with his son, and brings the evildoers to justice will mystify readers from beginning to end. ( )
  LynneQuan | Sep 22, 2017 |
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Carolyn Keeneprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Tandy, Russell H.Illustratormedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Nancy Drew determines whether an ivory elephant charm really protects its wearer from harm when she investigates the involvement of a member of the Bengleton Wild-Animal Show in a mysterious scheme.

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