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Be all you can be

Donna Parker Mystery at Arawak

Donna Parker Mystery at Arawak

I admit I like to read vintage kids books. With a growing collection of Trixie Belden books, somewhat similar is the Donna Parker series, also published over the late 50s, early 60s by Whitman. Currently I’m enjoying Donna Parker – Mystery at Arawak, where our heroine has a summer job as a junior counsellor at Camp Arawak. Donna differs from Trixie, experiencing more ‘life lessons’ instead of crime solving and clue hounding. The author also uses over-the-top foreshadowing ie. “If Donna had only known how important the events at this evening’s dance were to her future…”

But I’ve come across one of the most ‘time-stamped’ passages that I just have to share. It’s a scream.
First, an earlier snicker-filled scene: Donna has made a new friend at camp. Amy is ‘sweet’ but the boys don’t like her and Donna doesn’t understand why. Donna asks Tommy why he can’t find a date for Amy so they can all go to the dance together.

“What’s the matter with her?” Donna asked hotly. “She’s very nice, even if she is a little shy. And she’s a very very smart girl, too.”
Teddy snickered. “That’s what I mean. Who wants to date a genius? Boys don’t want to go out with girls who make them feel like dopes. (…..) With Amy, you have the feeling that she knows all the answers. And it doesn’t make a boy feel very comfortable.”

Amy herself later says

“I really try awfully hard not to say anything (…..) Even at school I try not to answer questions, and to get poor marks in tests, but I can’t help myself.”

Isn’t that great? While Donna rebukes pathetically with “That sounds silly” and “Boys are dumb”, she doesn’t really question or deny it. She accepts that it is just the way things are.
But this one I just read is even better.
Donna is getting advice from camp director Miss Tessie about how to understand the behaviour of an older girl. Miss Tessie goes off on some explanation that didn’t seem connected to me, but the author must have had another lesson for us to swallow.

“(When you look into a mirror, Donna …) Do you see just a fifteen-year-old girl with brown hair and brown eyes? Or do you see the young lady you will be soon? Perhaps you see a nurse’s cap on your head, or an airline stewardess’s hat. Or maybe you see an elegant debutante in a beautiful ball gown, with a diamond necklace and earrings.”

Donna responds to this guidance by adding “ballerina” to the list – her dream job as a young girl.

Talk about girl power. Nurse, stewardess, dancer or trophy wife. That was what we could hope for. This stuff cracks me up.

3 Responses to “Be all you can be”

  1. Mom says:

    You forgot teacher and good Catholic girls could add Nun.

  2. JA says:

    I didn’t write the book,I just report on my findings.

    And how come authoress didn’t include “authoress”? I guess they don’t wear recognizable hats (that argument doesn’t work for nuns tho’)

  3. Red Ensign says:

    Well gosh JA, good to know you’re reading material with value for young girls. I’m confused though, you talk about these entries like they’re DATED or no longer relevant?!?!

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