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The Vanishing Houseboat

Mildred A. Wirt (Benson)

"During the ride, Laura was by turns talkative and morose. Finding the girls sympathetic listeners, she told them of her difficulties since graduating from school. Her parents had left her with more debts than money, and after the estate had been settled, nothing was left. She had worked in a ten cent store and in a cafeteria, but neither position had proven satisfactory."

The Vanishing Houseboat is the second of the seventeen-book Penny Parker Mystery Stories, written by Mildred A. Wirt and published in 1939 by Cupples & Leon Company, an early publisher of series fiction for boys and girls. Like Nancy Drew (many of whose books were written by Mildred A. Wirt under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene), Penny Parker had a natural talent for stumbling into mysteries and a fearless determination to solve them. In this adventure a sinister boarding house in a neighboring town becomes linked to a vanishing houseboat and Penny must solve the mystery while helping her Dad get a scoop for his small-town paper, The Riverview Star.

Mildred A. Wirt (Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson, 1905-2002) didn’t get to see her name on most of the scores of youth series books she wrote during her long life and career. The famous Stratemeyer Syndicate produced many of the popular youth series in the early twentieth century and insisted on pseudonyms for the authors of their books, enforced by strict legal contracts of secrecy with their faceless authors. However, Benson is now established as the author of 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew mysteries and was largely responsible for developing Nancy’s persona, one of a confident, independent, fearless girl, a personality that was also typical of her other series characters. She wrote all or some of the following series: Nancy Drew, Kay Tracey, Penny Parker, Dana Girls, Penny Nichols, Ruth Darrow, Madge Sterling, Ruth Fielding, and Dan Carter, among others, including non-series titles. Like her characters, Mildred was an adventurer, making trips to Central America, traversing the jungle in a Jeep, canoeing down rivers, visiting Mayan sites, flying airplanes and witnessing archaeological excavations.

Book publisher: New York: Cupples and Leon Company
Book copyright: 1939
Book edition: First Edition, first or early printing, 1939
Pages: 204
Size: 5-3/8″ x 7-7/8″
Dust jacket: Yes
Illustrations: frontispiece
Back matter: none
Digital edition © 2009, 2021 Curtis Philips. All Rights Reserved.

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