The Case of the Hidden Hardbacks

Why does Claudia have to sneak her Nancy Drews? I bet every BSC fan has pondered this question. Her mom is head librarian at Stoneybrook Public Library and mysteriously disapproves of the girl detective series. Claudia is a terrible student and "reluctant reader." Wouldn't Mrs. Kishi be thankful for any literary interest her daughter exhibits? Perhaps she—like Ann M. Martin, #1 Fan of I Love Lucy—is stuck in the past.

But the past, as in 1914? According to Melanie Rehak's Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, that's when the head librarian of the Boy Scouts of America published a "widely circulated piece [that] deemed series books nothing short of sinister, permanently life-altering forces. 'The harm done [in reading them] is simply incalculable,' Mathiews moralized."

Then again, maybe Claudia's Japanese-American parents were just not so into the racism of the early Nancy Drew tales. In the late 1950s, the books' publisher called for their revision after parents complained about the treatment of black characters. Girl Sleuth lists the following questionable content (in the words of ghostwriter Harriet Stratemeyer Adams):

"Mention of a burly, thick-set Negro who puts his feet up on the seat of a train car;" "Mention of a young negro, badly dressed;" "More about the same Negro, Luke Jones. He is described in unfavorable terms." "More about the nefarious colored man" and "scheming by colored folks."
But really ... Nancy Drew has been around since 1930. Assuming Claudia was reading the original series (and not The Nancy Drew Files, introduced in '86 just like the Baby-Sitters Club!), there's a good chance Mrs. Kishi would have enjoyed the same books during her own childhood. You know Mimi would never have done anything as mean as banning books in her household.