Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cherry Ames

When I was a child, my sister had a few different series books on her shelf. One of the series, Cherry Ames, detailed the adventures of a young girl as she practiced nursing in various locales. Patricia became a nurse, and currently works at the same school that I do providing health care to the various high school students. She remembers reading the books, and like many girls of the 1950's and 1960's, a seed was planted that would eventually lead to a career.
My sister's Cherry Ames books have mostly disappeared. Only three remain, and this week I managed to pick up a few more at a local antique store. I plan to find some more titles to add eventually to my Bonanzle booth, but in the meantime I will read a few to sample a series of which I have little knowledge.
Here is what I do know: The series consists of 27 titles published between 1943 and 1968. The early books describe her entry into nursing at nursing school, then quickly move her into the Army where she serves her country during the second World War. These early books are printed on "wartime" paper, which means first printings will be brittle and brown in nature. They were printed by Grosset and Dunlap, and the early copies up to #7 are red or maroon with gray endpapers. The complete series can be collected in the pictorial cover editions with green spines. You may also find some PC's with yellow spines, but these were changed to green to differentiate the series from the yellow spine Nancy Drews, also published in the 1960's.
The series was originally authored by Helen Wells, who wrote the first eight volumes. Julie Tatham, the maiden name of Julie Campbell who penned the Trixie Belden series wrote the next eight volumes, concluding with #16. Helen Wells came back to the series and authored the rest.
The books became more mystery centered as they continued, mostly in an attempt to draw in readers of other girl detective stories like Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls. The higher numbered volumes, like The Mystery in the Doctor's Office and Ski Nurse Mystery are very hard to find and command high prices. The first twenty volumes appear to have been reprinted, which will allow some to purchase the series at a lesser price.
I will review a couple of titles in the series sometime in the future. I'm taking a course for my Masters on Young Adult literature, so my reading list is already pretty long. When I get a chance, however, I plan to dig deeper into the Cherry Ames series.


  1. Cherry Ames is one of my favorite series! I'm not a nurse, but her love for her vocation still inspires me.
    Just to clarify, the reprints, though numbered 1-20 so far, are only the Helen Wells volumes since the rights were assigned differently. So the numbers for these do not match the traditional numbering. They are lovely, though!

  2. Thanks for the correction- I'll do a little digging, and get a list of titles reprinted here on the blog!

  3. I have some Cherry Ames, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books to sell as I sort through some of my mother's things from the 1950s. Is there a place where I can post these items?