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.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Through all the years of collecting children's mystery series books, I have seen very little promotional material about them and that is one reason I find the tri-fold "Who's Who" ad that was included in some Grosset & Dunlap books in 1964 very appealing (see prior article on the famous ad). Here are a few more items that I found on eBay that came from magazines or catalogs. Obviously, these ads go back some years, so those who enjoy antiquing for books, might take another look at those stacks of Sears or Penney's catalogs in the local antique mall that date in the 1940s-1970s. You might find some ads similar to these. (note, Google blogs allow any photos placed in this section of the blog to be enlarged when you click on them, so be sure to enjoy the up close view by doing so.)
This is from a Wards catalog.

This one is dated September 1942 from a magazine called Playthings.This is also a Wards listing and note the Mildred Wirt books on the right side, advertising Brownie Scout and Dan Carter Cub Scout books.

Finally, these are photos of a Grosset & Dunlap catalog from the early 1970s. I had this in my collection for a good 30 years and sold it a few years ago for about $50. Considering this was a free catalog, that is a pretty good investment for saving it all those years. The interesting thing about it is some of the books in the catalog are very hard to find books because they were books issued at the end of the particular series, so there are few copies out there to find and thus they have a higher value today. This is particularly true of the Rick Brant books for sale in this catalog. I wish the photos were better, but these were take by a camera and not a scanner. Still it is an interesting item. And in case you were wondering, I am the one who marked up the list to indicate what books I had at that time. I guess I didn't think much of it being a collectable then or I wouldn't have marked on it, but I was a kid then and we all know how kids like to mark in their books.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Many of our favorite children's mystery series books involve searching for a treasure, whether it is valuable stamps, gold, lockets or weathervanes, our heroes are usually involved in the search of some item that will make them rich or, more likely, help out someone in need.
Now for most of series book collectors, we never have the chance to do such searching and probably that is why we enjoy reading about Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins or the Happy Hollisters doing so. But many of us are treasure seekers, and our treasure is series books to complete our collection or enhance it.
Over my many years of searching out series books, I have had many successes and many more failures, but much of the joy is the searching and when you succeed you feel a great thrill.
Most of my searches involve old book stores, but these days I am more likely to find a series book at an antique mall. In this column I will devote some time to some of my best or most unique treasure finds.
Let me start with the most recent one, which happened about a year ago.
In my home city of Oklahoma City, we have a fair amount of book stores, less than a mere 10 years ago, but there still are a few left.
I walked into one about a year ago and upfront was a push cart containing a lot of Rover Boys books. On the side of the cart was a sign that simply said: "$2 each". Before I even began looking at these books, I asked the store clerk if this was a true price, not a mistake. It was not a mistake!
There must have been at least 70 Rover Boys, many early and many later editions, and only about 20 with dust jackets. I went through the dust jacketed books and they were all in very good condition. I didn't hesitate a second to take those books to the front desk and I went through the others, looking for the earliest editions and noting their condition.
I am no expert on the Rover Boys and I have about 15 of them right now, some with dust jackets, but in all honesty, I have never read one. I have so many more books of interest and I just never got around to enjoying one of them. So my interest in these books was not to complete a collection, but rather offer them to other collectors for resale on eBay. I estimate I spent about $100 on these books and probably have made about $300 in profit. Some of these books went for $10, a few went for $50 each, but most somewhere in the middle. Had these books at the bookstore been Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, or Don Sturdy, I would have gone through them and added them to my collection as either an upgrade in condition or to complete my collection.
I did a little study of the history of the Rover Boys and discovered that they were actually written by Edward Stratemeyer, founder of a syndicate that was responsible for the creation of Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift and many more series. Most of those series were written by hired writers who worked from storylines and characters created by Stratemeyer. But the Rover Boys were strictly the product of his imagination.  Created in the early part of the 20th Century, they were very popular and highly read by America's youth of the time.
This collection of books I bought was from the estate of a man who was very active in the field during his lifetime and who was an expert in Horatio Alger's books. I don't know how this gentleman, from Ohio, had his books transported to Oklahoma for resale.
While not a fan of the Rover Boys, I enjoyed going through the books and checking their condition. While doing so, I found a small, yellow pennant that read: "BATAVIA OLD HOME WEEK, SEPT. 19-24, 1921". I did a little research on the internet and could not determine if this was a college or high school. I also found some correspondence from the original owner. But my greatest thrill was the discovery of a inscription on the title page of  THE ROVER BOYS WINNING A FORTUNE. It read: "Harriet Stratemeyer Adams daughter of Edward Stratemeyer". Now if you know anything about my interests in series books you will know I corresponded with Harriet Adams as a child in the 1960s. Elsewhere on this blog you will see copies of my correspondence and her autographs. But to find a book inscribed by her, and using her maiden and married name, is very thrilling. This book (see photos) is apparently a first edition and one I will keep in my collection till I die.
Getting back to the subject of this column, these kind of treasures can still be found out there if you hunt long enough and hard enough. I never dreamed of this kind of find. In the future I will add to this column with a few more stores of similar finds.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Here are some photos of some interesting Nancy Drew items, some from my collection. Enjoy! Click on the images for a better view.

As you can see, this is a promotional packet for the Nancy Drew Twin Thriller Book Club sent out in the 1970s.These are photo copies of the packet, which I sold many years ago. Only a real collector would understand the thinking of another collector in saving this type of material. In the year this was mailed out I was working in the mailroom of my university dorm when this item came through. It was addressed to a non-resident and thus was junk mail. I kept the piece since I recognized the value of such an item for Nancy Drew collectors. The promotional piece below is for another book club.
This is the insert that came from the packet, and immediately below is the envelope's front and back.
Another Nancy Drew book club promotion.
Nancy Drew game from late 1950s.
I have had this Nancy Drew movie poster for about 30 years and have it displayed on my office wall next to my Nancy Drew collection. It is a very rare piece. I put this image in this section, too, because the photo items along the side of my articles will not allow for enlargement.