Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald, by Clifford B. Hicks

Since 1960, boys and girls alike have enjoyed reading about the adventures of Alvin Fernald and his Magnificent Brain.  Whenever his brain clicks into action, a glassy stare comes into Alvin’s eyes and not even his troublesome sister, lovingly known as “The Pest”, can distract him from his work.  Whether it’s creating the Foolproof Burglar Alarm for his bedroom door or developing the Sure Shot Paper Slinger for delivering newspapers from his bike, Alvin is always in search of another marvelous invention.  In this book, the first in the series, a set of mysterious circumstances surrounding the Old Huntley Place is all the inspiration that Alvin needs for his sleuthing.

The Alvin Fernald books were already modern classics when I discovered them as a child, and although they might be slightly hard to find they are actually still in print today!  The author, Clifford B. Hicks, also served as an editor for Popular Mechanics magazine, so one neat feature of these books is that all of Alvin’s creations are actually realistic!  Based on the descriptions in the stories, a tinkering reader can easily re-create some of the inventions within.  Mr. Hicks seemed to know both the inner workings of machines, as well as young boys’ brains, which makes these books such enduring stories today.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Hardy Boys, by Franklin W. Dixon

Frank and Joe Hardy are a pair of teenage brothers and amateur detectives.  When they’re not attending high school in the city of Bayport, they often find themselves entangled in any number of local mysteries.  Whether they solve one of the confidential case files that their father (a detective) is working on, or they accidentally stumble across a villain’s concealed activities, action and adventure seem to seek out the Hardy Boys. 

One fun fact is that while the “Hardy Boys” series is supposedly authored by someone called Franklin W. Dixon, all of the books were actually created by ghostwriters.  There have been over 200 books added to the series over the past century, so it’s very easy to pick one up at random and dive in.  Each book is a self-contained novel, so you don’t have to start with any particular book like you would with “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings.”

The Hardy Boys are the type of teenagers that every boy dreams of being, so it’s no wonder that their popularity has endured for so long.  Over a million of these books are still sold each year, so I’m betting you’ll find it easy to put your hands on a copy!