I read various Zilpha Keatley Snyder books as a kid, but the only ones I actually owned were The Headless Cupid
and The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case
The Stanley kids consist of:
- David, viewpoint character, a sober and responsible eleven-year-old who is resignedly used to acting as semi-parental unit to various small siblings since his mother's death
- Janie, six-year-old genius, who enjoys creating drama, solving mysteries, and announcing her IQ to anyone who will listen;
- Esther, fairly ordinary four-year-old who likes toys and explicable rules and neatness;
- Blair, angelic and slightly spooky four-year-old who talks to animals and might have some kind of supernatural sixth sense, but it's a bit hard to tell what is that and what is just being four
At the beginning of The Headless Cupid
, the Stanleys are about to get a new stepmother, Molly. This is fine with them; Molly is a sweetheart! They're a little less certain about Molly's twelve-year-old daughter Amanda, a sulky preteenager with who appears to have taken Fairuza Balk's character in The Craft
as her role model. Hypothetically supernatural shenanigans rooted in complex emotional issues and reluctant sibling bonding ensue, rather like a less murderous version of Wait 'Til Helen Comes
...then in The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case
they all move to Italy for a year and the kids get SURPRISE KIDNAPPED based on a WACKY MISUNDERSTANDING! Even as a child I thought this was a hilarious genre shift, although the actual feel of the books is still pretty similar -- the focus is more on the kids and their relationships with each other than the actual plot.
However, due to a conversation with allchildren
a little while ago, I have since recently learned that there are two MORE Stanley books that I never knew existed!
It turns out that Blair's Nightmare
is basically everything I could have wanted out of a third Stanley book. Plot: Blair, now six, still angelic and spooky, is sleepwalking and talking about seeing a giant dog, which can't possibly be real ... OR CAN IT? Also, David is afraid of being targeted by the school bully, Pete, until Amanda PUNCHES PETE IN THE FACE -- after which Pete abruptly wants to become David's best friend, especially if it means that Amanda might be around also and might ... also .... want to hang out ..... *___*? Which is ... kind of adorable, honestly, but not as adorable as David crankily accusing Amanda of just helping him because she thought he was pathetic, and Amanda being like "no, doofus, I just had a sibling feeling! It was weird, but neat! :D" KIDS.
Also, I forgot to mention there are escaped convicts on the loose. Janie's Private Eyes
, the fourth book, is also cute, and World's Most Annoying Child Genius Janie is always pretty hilarious, but the plot is about Janie & the Stanleys proving that Janie's new best friend Thuy and her Vietnamese family are not the culprits behind a rash of dog thefts, aka White Kids Generously Save Local Immigrants From Racism, so, you know.