Sunday, June 12, 2016

Book Review: Mandie and the Angel's Secret

Title: Mandie and the Angel's Secret 

Author: Lois Gladys Leppard

Date: 1993

Publisher: Bethany

ISBN: 1-55661-370-9

Length: 160 pages

Quote: "A golden light...illuminated the room...As she watched the vision seemed to form into a beautiful young person...'Peace,' the musical voice said softly. 'You will know.'...Had an angel appeared to her during the night? Or had she dreamed it?"

Like all the well-off young people at the turn of the century, Mandie was taking an educational tour of Europe (with some friends, including her grandmother and their U.S. Senator) when word arrived that Mandie and her grandmother needed to come home quickly because Mandie's mother was ill with "the fever." By the time they got home, Mandie's mother was too sick to be visited. Mandie's dream/vision occurs while she's worrying about her mother. So, no points for guessing that what she "will know" is even less like a detective-story "mystery" than many of the "mysteries" in Mandie's previous twenty-one adventures.

The Mandie Books are fiction, based on the memories of Lois Gladys Leppard's mother. Like Mandie, the author's mother was an interesting, stereotype-defying character. Naturally blonde, one-fourth Cherokee, and proud, she'd lived in a cabin as an "orphan" before being reclaimed by wealthy relatives and given the sort of spotty education that was then considered excellent "for a girl." The rich family happened to be in the "Washington insiders" clique of their day, so Leppard's mother's adventures really did span from living with poor people in the Great Smoky Mountains to sightseeing in the capital cities with government officials...but nobody needs to try to believe that Leppard's mother was in the middle of as many bookworthy adventures as Mandie is, even if cynical adult readers also question the bookworthiness of some of Mandie's adventures.

What about this one, particularly?'s not a detective story by any stretch. It's not a "Sunday School Book," either, although Mandie and her family are Christians and Mandie does some serious praying, beyond just repeating "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee," during this adventure. It could be considered a mainstream story about how religious faith helps a family draw closer together, and Mandie meets yet another of her widely scattered relatives for the first time, during a few days of worry. It could also be considered an historical novel about how far medical science has progressed since Mandie's girlhood in the McKinley administration...Mandie's mother's unidentified illness sounds like one of those bacterial infections that are wiped out with antibiotics before the patient has time to come down with them, nowadays.

Fans of Mandie enjoyed this one, Amazon reports. Mandie is a believable teenager, no more a preachy Sunday School Book heroine than an empty-headed Teen Romance heroine. Even if this "adventure" consists mostly of dealing with her feelings about things over which she has no control, it's a rewarding chapter in the life of a character who becomes real to young readers.

Unfortunately Leppard no longer needs the $1 she'd get if this were a Fair Trade Book, and the bottom price for buying it online is $5 per copy + $5 per package. (Eight Mandie Books--there were forty altogether--should fit into a package, for $45.)

I should mention that Gena Greene and I have dressed dolls to go with the characters in most of the Mandie Books. Although the cover of this book is especially uninspiring for doll-dressing purposes, I had planned to knit a generic Edwardian-style granny-gown for a blonde doll, before the kitten Elmo decided to express his opinion of the copy I physically owned. That copy is available, if any local readers still want it, dirt cheap, and "dirt" really is an applicable don't really want to know, although you can guess, where he tried to bury it. Some young males just don't appreciate the Mandie Books. Meanwhile, a different doll got the long white granny-gown. You can, however, order a doll to go with any book of your choice; because we use different material and patterns for each one, even if the book contains only one drawing of one person in a generic outfit that's mostly covered up, you will still get a unique doll outfit for $10 (to fit dolls up to 12" tall or long) + $5 per package. Send mail or e-mail to either address at the very bottom of the screen, down below the end of the blog feed.