Sunday, June 19, 2016

Book Review: Mandie and the Fiery Rescue

Title: Mandie and the Fiery Rescue 

Author: Lois Gladys Leppard

Date: 1993

Publisher: Bethany

ISBN: 1-55661-289-3

Length: 159 pages

Quote: "Is that the Molly whose mother works in the mill, and who lives at nine Murphy Lane?...Is she in the section that is on fire?"

Through the eighteenth and into the nineteenth century, one of the leading causes of death for young women was allowing those layers of long swishy skirts and sweeping shawls to get too close to those open fires. ("I have a bad habit of standing before the fire," Louisa May Alcott had Jo March confess; T.H. White claimed that masochism caused Victorians to stand or sit as far from the fireplace as they could bear to, but in fact, any impatience to warm and dry out their clothes could become more life-threatening than a chill.)

Nevertheless, in the climactic scene of this story, Mandie and her pals Jonathan and Celia charge into the blazing mill to rescue little Molly, a younger child they've met while taking the tour of Europe that was part of every rich American teenager's education in Mandie's day. They are, Mandie points out to the local fireman who tries to stop them, smaller than grown-up fire fighters, so maybe they can crawl into the part of the building where Molly is trapped...and in they go, without even wetting themselves down first. (Wetting down was about as much protection as real fire fighters could provide themselves, back then.)

They have, however, taken the time to hold hands and repeat, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." The fireman has, as his kind still do today, preferred to err on the side of caution. And we know this book was written by the daughter of the real woman whose improbable, but real, early life inspired the forty Mandie Books. So we know our heroes will be all right, and Molly and her mother will get out, too. To preserve some suspense, I won't say what becomes of Molly and her mother at the end.

Although Mandie has more book-length adventures than a real person of her day could have squeezed into that many years, the basic story of the blonde biracial girl from the Great Smoky Mountains, who starts out as a poor orphan, gets rescued by rich and influential relatives, and travels around the world proudly owning her unfashionable Cherokee heritage and reciting her favorite Bible verse, is the true story of Lois Gladys Leppard's mother. Mandie's adventures are fictionalized, but this base in reality keeps them from deteriorating into either a Teen Romance or a Sunday School Book. Mandie is real, and little girls (and readers who were once little girls) around the world love her.

Unfortunately, Leppard no longer needs the $1 she'd get if you bought Mandie and the Fiery Rescue from me as a Fair Trade Book, so that's no longer possible...and I still have to charge $5 per book + $5 per package for online sales. (For $10, I can dress a doll up to 12" high in a unique handmade outfit inspired by any of the characters in the cover drawing and add that to the package, bringing the total to $15; bigger dolls cost more. For $45, I'll squeeze any eight of the Mandie Books that you don't already have into a package.) If you just want to complete your collection of Mandie Books, feel free to use the Amazon photo link to buy this one directly from the seller who posed the photo, who may offer a lower price.