Monday, October 19, 2020

Rare find of an even rarer Tom Swift Jr. Cosmotron Express

It is not very often you find the last book of a series, especially in the picture-cover era of series books. In this case, a few years ago I found the next-to-last volume of Tom Swift Jr., And His Cosmotron Express, #32 of the 33-book series. Since it is near the end of the series, and thus fewer printings were done, it is very difficult to find the book. For years, a book of this type would command high prices on eBay and other internet sites. I found this book in an Oklahoma City antique store that I bet only had 20 books altogether. I bought it for $1 and to make it even more valuable, I found inside a card from the publisher, Grosset & Dunlap, asking the person who received the book to send two copies of the review to them. I was told these reviewer copies were sent out as "press notice" books, with the idea of perhaps generating some publicity.

Sunday, June 24, 2018


This blog records my children's series book collecting over 50 years and I have been fortunate to have many unique items to feature, but in the last six months I found an item that is perhaps the ultimate find. Last February I was going through a local antique mall, one that I have visited often, when I found Bomba The Jungle Boy (vol 1) on a shelf with a few other non-series books. I don't know why I even looked at it as I do not collect the series and have no other books from it. This book is a reprint from about 1949 and the important thing about it is it contained a wrapper around it that promoted the then recently released movie of the series by Monogram Pictures. I paid about $15 for this book and could not believe the wrapper was still attached. It is difficult enough to find books with dust jackets, and even less likely that the djs will be in pristine condition, but in this case I hit the jackpot. The book appeared to have never been read and the dj and the promotional wrapper were in very good condition. I posted my find on a Facebook group that discusses series books and I found out from other collectors that no one even knew this wrapper existed. Similar wrappers have adorned Nancy Drew (1939) and Hardy Boys (mid-1950s) and there are probably countless movies that have been promoted this way, too. A few months later I sold this book on eBay to a collector who specialized in this type of collectible. I sold it for $425. I sold it because I do not have any sentiment for the series; I could use the money; and frankly I wanted someone who did appreciate it to enjoy it in their collection. If this had been a promotion for the Happy Hollisters, my favorite series, I would have kept it. I hope you enjoy these pictures of one of the most fantastic collectible finds I have ever had.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Check out my special entries on THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS through my archive section to the right or hit this link to SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS where you will see letters from Andrew (Jerry West) Svenson, Happy Hollister book club promotional material and special pictures.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


As an illustration of my series book interests, besides The Happy Hollisters, I present here a gallery of foreign editions of some of my favorite book series. I have collected these books over some time, primarily obtaining them through eBay auctions or contacts I made through the auction site. It still amazes me how many different series are represented here and surprisingly some are not products of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, such as the Brains Benton or Tom Quest series. If you enjoy this entry or any of my blog entries, please make a comment, even if it is a brief word or two. Click on any of the pictures for better views. Thanks!








Friday, November 19, 2010


It is old news now that THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS, volume one of the popular children's mystery series, has been reprinted this year and is being distributed through Amazon. I recently received the paperback and it is really neat, as one of the Happy Hollisters might say, probably Ricky! The paperback version is new and a perfect complement to the history of the series, which was also reprinted in the 1980s for four volumes.
This new entry is published by "THE SVENSON GROUP, INC, on behalf of The Hollisters Family Properties Trust" as printed on the bottom of the title page. There is also a wonderful Dedication that notes that 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Andrew Svenson, the creator and author of The Happy Hollisters book series. The reprint is also dedicated to his wife Marian and their children who inspired the author, too.
Anyone who has read this blog knows Andrew Svenson created The Happy Hollisters in the 1950s writing under the name of Jerry West. Mr. Svenson became a partner of the Stratemeyer Syndicate and through them wrote or edited many other books including some Hardy Boys.
Many years ago I corresponded with Jerry West as a fan and book club member. Through the years of maintaining blogs about series books and my fondness for The Happy Hollisters, I have  also corresponded occasionally through emails with members of his family. His six children were the models for the 5 Hollister children. One of the most significant emails I got from his family came recently from his grandson Andrew:

Hi Tim,

I wanted to drop you a quick note to get reacquainted. You sent me a kind condolence note after my father died in late 2005 and I appreciated that. For some time now I've been enjoying your BookSleuth's Series Book Collection blog and posts on Facebook, etc. I know you are a huge fan of my grandfather, Andrew Svenson, the Happy Hollisters series, and all things related to the Stratemeyer Syndicate.
So, I wanted to let you know my wife and I have been combing through my grandfather's extensive work files and have found many "buried treasures" such as a hand drawn map of Shoreham, chapter plots from circa 1950, a HH pseudonym vote tally, and hundreds of letters of correspondence/documents between the Syndicate partners and/or various publishers, executives and fans. I know you'll love these newly-found treasures and we will let you and the world know about them shortly. But, for now, we found this little nugget and wanted to share it with you now. See attached. It's a copy of a note my grandfather sent to Doubleday asking them to make good for a "dissatisfied customer." I'm positive this customer was you! Apparently your original letter of complaint was transcribed for my grandfather and, in translation, your last name became O'Werin! But I'm hoping they corrected the shipping error and you were able to remain a Happy Hollisters Book Club customer.
Tim, I hope you enjoy this blast from your past!

Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm regarding the Happy Hollisters. As you know we plan to relaunch the series in paperback in the very near future. Whatever you can do to get the word out about this will be appreciated. Any questions please contact me directly.

All the best,
Andy Svenson III

I was thrilled to see this transcription of a letter I sent to Jerry (Andrew Svenson) West some 43 years ago. Here is a reproduction of that letter from Svenson to the publisher:

July 6, 1967

Mrs. Terry Lundberg
Doubleday & Company
Garden City, Long Island
New York

Dear Mrs. Lundberg:

Enclosed is a copy of a dissatisfied Happy Hollisters Club fan, I contacted Mr. Mills and he said there was probably some mistake in shipping. I will leave it up to you to contact our friend Tim O'Werin.


Andrew E. Svenson

What is really funny is my letter to Jerry West. I have always wanted to see one of my letters to Andrew Svenson or Harriet Adams, and this reproduction from a transcribed letter of mine is the next best thing:
Dear Jerry West,
I would like to know why you sent me Peter Pan and My Friend Flicka instead of my Happy Hollisters book. I only have 22 Happy Hollister Books. Please inform me if you don't have any more Happy Hollister books. I would like to have all the Happy Hollisters books. I only have 8 more books to get and I like them. If I can't get all the Happy Hollisters Book I would like to quit. Please write me soon.

Your friend,

Tim O'Werin

Elsewhere on this blog are some samples of a few of the letters I received from Andrew Svenson over several years. One of them is related to this exchange. Dated October 10, 1967, is a letter signed by Jerry West that states:

"I am sorry that you have not been getting the Happy Hollister books you were expecting. I have called the Book Club headquarters at Doubleday and Co. and they have promised to get the matter straightened out. You will be hearing from them.
It pleases me to know that you are eager to read more about the Hollister family. I always enjoys hearing from my fans,
Your friend,
Jerry West

My next letter from Andrew Svenson was dated November 22, 1967. It is the letter reprinted elsewhere that shares information about traveling to Yucatan before writing THE MYSTERY OF THE MEXICAN IDOL.

For more information about the new reprint of THE HAPPY HOLLISTERS, go to and also check out their Facebook link in my list of Favorite Places to the right! The Facebook site is full of Happy Hollisters material never before seen including pictures of the Svenson family home and the entire family during holiday celebrations. You can also express your ideas on what titles should next be reprinted.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Back of book club promotion envelope:
I am listing the Happy Hollisters books for the first time in my blog, which is nothing extra-ordinary, but my list includes one additional piece of information. I am not sure I have ever seen a list of Happy Hollisters books with copyright dates for each volume listed. So this list will include copyright dates to illustrate how frequently these books were published in a particular year. Note in particular the fact that the first four volumes were all copyrighted in the same year, 1953. That is quite an achievement in series book history, although not unmatched by other series. I am also, by copyright dates, listing the series in order and correcting an error repeated over and over again in the series. That error is the placement of Pony Hill Farm before Merry-Go-Round Mystery on most book lists for the series since those books were first published. The problem started, I assume, when Pony Hill Farm is listed as volume #10 on its dust jacket even though that book is copyrighted in 1956 and Merry-Go-Round Mystery is listed as #11, even though its' copyright is 1955. I have recently seen a first edition of Pony Hill Farm that has that error on the dust jacket. And my copy of Merry-Go-Round Mystery, published by Garden City, lists it as #11 on the dust jacket spine, but on the dust jacket back flap and inside it is listed as #10 in order. So this list will correct the order of Happy Hollisters books.
Included in this blog entry are some additional photos of Happy Hollister book club promotions and the mailing cards from the club to myself. Note one of the mailing cards came with my gold metal book holder. More about these items are availble in other earlier blog entries

# 1 The Happy Hollisters, 1953

# 2 The Happy Hollisters on a River Trip, 1953

# 3 The Happy Hollisters at Sea Gull Beach, 1953

# 4 The Happy Hollisters and the Indian Treasure, 1953

# 5 The Happy Hollisters at Mystery Mountain, 1954

# 6 The Happy Hollisters at Snowflake Camp, 1954

# 7 The Happy Hollisters and the Trading Post Mystery, 1954

# 8 The Happy Hollisters at Circus Island, 1955

# 9 The Happy Hollisters and the Secret Fort, 1955

#10 The Happy Hollisters and the Merry-Go-Round Mystery, 1955

#11 The Happy Hollisters at Pony Hill Farm, 1956

#12 The Happy Hollisters and the Old Clipper Ship, 1956

#13 The Happy Hollisters at Lizard Cove, 1957

#14 The Happy Hollisters and the Scarecrow Mystery, 1957

#15 The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Totem Faces, 1958

#16 The Happy Hollisters and the Ice Carnival Mystery, 1958

#17 The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery in Skyscraper City, 1959

#18 The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Little Mermaid, 1960

#19 The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery at Missile Town, 1961

#20 The Happy Hollisters and the Cowboy Mystery, 1961

#21 The Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery, 1962

#22 The Happy Hollisters and the Secret of the Lucky Coins, 1962

#23 The Happy Hollisters and the Castle Rock Mystery, 1963

#24 The Happy Hollisters and the Cuckoo Clock Mystery, 1963

#25 The Happy Hollisters and the Swiss Echo Mystery, 1963

#26 The Happy Hollisters and the Sea Turtle Mystery, 1964

#27 The Happy Hollisters and the Punch and Judy Mystery, 1964

#28 The Happy Hollisters and the Whistle Pig Mystery, 1964

#29 The Happy Hollisters and the Ghost Horse Mystery, 1965

#30 The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Golden Witch, 1966

#31 The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Mexican Idol, 1967

#32 The Happy Hollisters and the Monster Mystery, 1969

#33 The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery of the Midnight Trolls, 1969

Letterhead of Happy Hollisters book club:

Monday, May 10, 2010


On a separate part of this blog is a section of special notes about The Happy Hollisters. One of the notes is about a first edition of Mystery of the Little Mermaid. In all my many years of collecting The Happy Hollisters, it was only recently that I found a 1st edition of that book that has an error on the dust jacket. That error is the fact that the scene of the Hollister children playing along a yard fence on the spine of the dust jacket is missing. Till this day, this is the only such error I had ever seen on the dust jackets of this series. And that was a serious error. The funny thing about this is that until a few years ago, I had never seen this book with that error, but since the first time I noticed this, I have seen similar first editions of that book on eBay and now in an antique mall.

I just finished a weekend trip to the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area and at the Montgomery Street Antique Mall in Fort Worth, I found several first editions of the Happy Hollisers, including Little Mermaid. I was with a friend who noticed that the previous owner, Yvonne, had marked on the dust jacket of Little Mermaid. In the list of Happy Hollisters volumes on the back flap of the dust jacket, there was a mistake that Yvonne corrected. The sixth volume of the series, at Snowflake Camp, is misspelled to read: at Snowflake Cave. I missed this on the volume I own, which didn't have the luxury of having Yvonne correct it. Here is a picture of the error from the back flap of the dust jacket of The Mystery of the Little Mermaid. Hit the link for a closer look:

NEW: I recently noticed on an eBay auction that some editions of the Happy Hollisters and the Castle Rock Mystery had a title page with no pictures of the Hollister children. This book was a dust jacketed version, but I have the same thing in a picture cover edition. I believe later printings corrected this, so I am guessing this happened in only a few early printings. I cannot recall ever seeing this before, so it is another unique mistake Doubleday & Company made.