|Mandie and the Secret Tunnel|
Title: Mandie and the Secret Tunnel
Author: Lois Gladus Leppard
Publication Date: 4/1/83
How I Found It: One of my childhood favorites
Date Completed: 1/10/16
Summary: Upon her father's death, Mandie is left with an unloving mother, sister, and a new stepfather. She runs away to find a long-lost uncle, only to be caught up in a hunt for his will and the mystery of who will inherit his fortune.
What I Thought: This series (which reaches a count of an impressive 40 books!) was one of my absolute favorites as a child. 11-year Mandie Shaw was so relatable to me at that age. She's spunky, but still a "good girl" but any judgement. Looking back now, I can see some faint parallels with the Anne of Green Gables series, if only in the optimistic personalities of the heroines.
The books are set in the early 1900s in rural North Carolina. Of course, as a girl, I never dreamed I would return to the books at a time in my life when I live only a few hours from the setting. As Mandie traversed the mountain pathways with her Cherokee friends, I found myself popping over to Google Maps to trace her journey and gauge its relation to my own home. Having the proximity now in my life only made the book feel more special to me now as an adult.
I would definitely recommend this series to young, Christian girls. Leppard weaves Christian morals and teachings throughout the books - no wonder my parents bought these books for me. At times, these elements are a little ostentatious; I think the messages could have been just as effective while remaining a bit more subtle. Then again, I am reading as an adult now and perhaps the lack of nuance is better suited for children.
The plot is better than you might expect. It's no action-packed thriller, but, for its intended audience, it does offer a few twists along the way. The characters are fun and likable. In the end, Mandie, of course, sees a happy ending with some major surprises. The book does tackle racial prejudices a little bit, though not nearly to the extent it could. I can't remember if future books in the series do a more thorough job on that issue, but I picked up the whole series from my parents' house the last time I was there, so I plan on picking one up every now and then this year. They are short, fun reads; I finished this one in a single afternoon.
If you have kids, male or female, I know I enjoyed these books as a I kid and I found this first one charming as an adult as well. Of course, these days, I have zero desire to own a kitten named Snowball, as Mandie does. Some things don't change with age and some things definitely do.
Will I Re-Read: Definitely when I have kids, if not before
A Reduced Review: A fun adventure story, perfect for feisty young girls of faith.