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The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Totem Faces Hardcover – 1958
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This story finds the Hollister family off to Alaska with Uncle Russ and their two cousins, Teddy and Jean. Russ Hollister, a commercial artist and cartoonist, has run out of ideas and is trying to think of a new location for his comic strip characters. The children, whose interest in the Far North has been aroused by an encounter with an old man and the totem pole he brought back as a souvenir of his adventurous days as a gold miner, persuade Uncle Russ to make Alaska the background for his new cartoon series. The gold miner had told the children that his totem pole is a replica of a pole that holds a secret, which was lost somewhere near Sitka, Alaska. Among them the Hollisters manage to locate the lost totem pole and find, tucked away inside it, the clue to hidden treasure. A most exciting Hollister story that combines the excitement of solving a mystery and outsmarting a sinister thief with the discovery of new places, different traditions and ways of living. A new story that will certainly please all the Hollister fans who look forward so eagerly to each new book in this popular series.
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Top Customer Reviews
I am 50 years old now and the world of children is much more graphic, violent, sexualized and jaded. I have no kids of my own, but teach hundreds a week as a part of my music program that I carry to several schools every week. I know kids of elementary school age very well and know that, unfortunately, the age of child that would enjoy these mysteries is younger than in my day, but these are too difficult to read for most of them in the communities where I teach.
However, if you homeschool these are PERFECT if your kid is inquisitive and likes solving problems. Each book is a mystery that is solved by a 1950s white-bread nuclear family with parents who are shockingly permissive and gender roles that are right out of Happy Days or Laverne & Shirley. That being said, the stories are very interesting and fun to read. They challenge kids and make them think. And no one wears bike helmets, they get hurt and get over it, and they actually show smarts and initiative. They build stuff and learn sign language to include a deaf child in their club. The are *nice kids* from a past world.
This past world was real, but may be over the top for many parents or kids today. I read these as a child and was transported to a world where Leave it to Beaver was filled with accepted norms that would not fly today, but people were also nicer back then in many ways, and the world was much more innocent and safe.
If you think your kid might like these, buy this Kindle file first and read it yourself to see if you approve. If you do, there is ample material and vocabulary to challenge your kid and keep them happy. Girls play a big part in these books but are definitely less equal than boys as things were back then, but in a very innocent way and not really insulting at all, or could be with a very quick explanation to your children, so while seemingly a boy-driven series, it is not, really, so your kids, male or female, will like these equally, I think.
Keep in mind that many of the oddities will not be covered in the Kindle dictionary, so you may have to actually look up some stuff in a real one. Spelling is representative of the 1950s, with things like "goodbye" being spelled "good-by" and the kids saying, "By!" to one another, which really looks weird today. And there are simply items that many younger parents will not be familiar with, requiring the dictionary. I found that most of these *were* in the Kindle dictionary, though, so only a few things are not, and then there are those odd spellings...
Seriously, you could really hook your kid on reading with these. The full series is like 33 books, but only a handful have been turned into Kindle files, unfortunately. You can find the actual books for sale as complete sets online, but they are spendy due to the age and popularity. You can now purchase them from the website of the family of the author in paperback form, or you can get them here on Amazon. I like the Kindle version because of the built-in dictionary, but would still prefer to own the set in the new paperback versions.
The family's website is the happy hollisters dot com (you know how to fix that, I bet) so that you can read up on this series, then you can come back here to buy them.
If you purchase any of these books and read them yourself, please comment below to tell me what you think of its appropriateness for kids today. I am genuinely curious about that. Thanks!
Another reader boldly declared the sensory pleasures of these books --- and how right he was! They had a unique scent all their own, and I still vividly recall the feel of the deckled page ends and the pebble texture of the bright red covers beneath the jacket too. (I always removed the covers while reading the books to keep them neat and clean --- a habit which surprised my Mom to no end.)
It's all so long ago --- but small fragments of the books come to me easily while thinking about them now: The hateful neighborhood bully Jerry Brill, Mr. Hollister's American-Indian employee (who's name I can't recall, sadly) at his store, 'The Trading Post,' the Hollister's wide and varied assortment of relatives who's visit invariably heralded the start of an adventure, White Nose and her kittens (who remained kittens for the entire run of the series as far as I know) --- oh, I could go on and on. Who can forget the Hollisters arriving in NYC in a helicopter during a storm and landing atop the roof of what turned out to be their hotel? Or the hapless boy who's life was in such turmoil that he took to the Shoreham river in a rickety boat, prompting a massive seach? Well, to go on is pointless --- I know anyone who reads this can add their own memories to this list.
A year or so into reading the books, I wrote a fan letter to Mr. West that couldn't have amounted to more than gibberish, but wouldn't you know --- he took the time to type out a very personal reply on special stationary emblazoned with illustrations of the Hollister kids, to thank me for writing to him and (I still find this curious but lovely) to urge me to explore other books and authors as well. A gracious author and gentleman in every sense of the word.
The world has indeed moved on since then in dangerous and unexpected directions, but if one >can< go home again --- albeit briefly, I know I'll enjoy visiting that rambling home on the shore of lake. Another time, another place --- but forever "home" in more ways than one.