Monday, December 10, 2012

The Lost Locket (Nancy Drew Notebooks #2)

The Lost Locket (Nancy Drew Notebooks #2)
Carolyn Keene
Simon & Schuster, 1994

Genre: Mystery


It is Friday and Nancy Drew’s best friends, Bess and George, are in a fight. Bess is accusing George of losing her gold locket which has her name engraved on it and a small pearl. Bess wanted to jump rope with some other girls after school and asked George to hold the locket for her. George put it inside a pocket on her backpack and now it is gone. Bess is sure it has been stolen and the thief is mean since he or she left behind a horrible soggy peanut butter, ketchup, mustard and relish sandwich.

As Bess is explaining the situation to Nancy, George isn’t paying attention and is talking to some other girls showing them an article about her and her most recent soccer game that was in the newspaper. Angry that George isn’t taking this seriously, Bess yells at her and rips up the article. They each get mad and yell at each other saying they will never be friends again. This is bad news for Nancy who was planning on seeing a movie with them both this weekend. How can she even solve the mystery if the two won’t talk to each other?

Nancy writes down the names of all the kids on the playground after school that had an opportunity to steal the necklace. She is left with 11 possible suspects, which is a lot. As she’s getting ready to leave, she sees a fourth grader, Karen, looking in the pockets of a jean jacket. Not finding what she’s looking for, she looks in another jacket. Nancy asks her what she’s doing and she says she’s looking for gum. Nancy tells her it’s not nice to go stealing gum when Karen says her friend told her she could borrow some but she wasn’t sure which jacket was hers.

Nancy visits Bess the next day to try and start gathering clues. Luckily, Bess looks at the list of suspects and eliminates those who were jumping rope with her and those who were on the swings at the time. It takes Nancy’s list down to four kids—Karen (the prime suspect because she supposedly stole money from the school office last year), Jenny March, Mike Minelli, and Ned Nickerson. Nancy’s only real clue is the sandwich that was placed in George’s backpack. She needs to find a way to figure out who eats what for lunch. She calls Jenny’s house and says she’s working on an extra credit research project but Jenny’s dad says he doesn’t pack the kids’ lunches so he doesn’t know. She calls Karen’s house and her mother says all her kids will eat anything as long as it has peanut butter on it. Bess is ready to blame Karen but Nancy says that they need proof before they can do anything. She asks Bess if she wants to stake out Karen’s house. Maybe they’ll see the locket in her room or see her wearing it. Bess, not liking the idea of physical work, isn’t too thrilled so Nancy tells her she’ll get George to help and that makes Bess mad.

Nancy and George go over to Karen’s house. George climbs a tree and looks into Karen’s room but it is so messy she wouldn’t be able to see something as small as a locket. They meet Jimmy, Karen’s little brother who is eating peanut butter cookies. He informs the girls that Karen hates relish. Nancy is forced to concede that the thief might not be Karen. Back at home Nancy decides to try the weird lunch and discovers it is more disgusting than she thought it would be. She tries the whole “meet me at the park I’ve got news” trick to get George and Bess back together and talking but it fails. George doesn’t think a boy would steal a locket but Nancy doesn’t think a girl would eat such a disgusting lunch. As the girls are talking they see Ned riding his bike and George says Nancy should talk to him.

As they walk over to Ned they are distracted by Brenda Carlton, Nancy’s nemesis. Brenda is rich and thinks she’s better than everyone else. She says she found Bess’s locket and points to an old ceiling fan chain in the dirt. The girls don’t like her. Nancy and George talk to Ned who says he likes cheese and turkey sandwiches. He doesn’t mention peanut butter at all and Nancy thinks she seems too nice to be a thief.

On Monday, Mrs. Spenser’s class is going to the pumpkin farm. Nancy has an awkward moment when both her friends want to spend time with her and not each other. Nancy grabs Bess and tells her she’s narrowed it down to two suspects—Jenny and Mike. When everyone gets on the bus, George is forced to sit next to Nancy and Bess as there are no other seats and then all three girls are put into a group. When lunch time comes, both want Nancy to sit with them and Nancy tells them that she is sick of the fighting and she’s not going to sit with either one. When Nancy opens her lunch to find Hannah’s “surprise” is hard-boiled eggs, which Nancy hates, she is confused. Another girl in class freaks out because her lunch is tuna and she’s allergic to tuna. Nancy realizes that their lunch boxes got mixed up and they switch. While she’s eating, Nancy suddenly realizes what happened to Bess’s necklace.

She gathers both girls who have now apologized to each other and Nancy informs them that the locket is in George’s backpack. George says that isn’t possible because they looked there. They go on the bus and grab her backpack and she realizes it isn’t her bag—there is a notebook inside that says “Ned Nickerson” on it. Both George and Ned have the same backpack. On Friday, Ned must have accidentally taken George’s backpack home. When the students return to the school, Ned is waiting for the girls and they switch backpacks. He explains that the nasty sandwich was a joke of his 19-year-old uncle who is in town visiting. George looks inside the pocket and finds Bess’s necklace safe inside.

Thoughts and Nuggets of Wisdom for Research

Surprisingly, in this book, we discover for the first time (at least in the Nancy Drew books I’ve read) a relative timeline for when Nancy’s mother died. When readers are introduced to Hannah they are told “she had been living with Nancy and her father for five years, ever since Nancy’s mother had died” (p. 15). If Nancy is in third grade and is roughly eight years old then her mother died when she was three. Usually in the books there is always just a vague reference to the fact that her mother is dead—it is rare to see a time frame given.

Brenda Carlton, Nancy’s nemesis, is like the Lila Fowler of Riverside Heights. She is described as not “very nice—at least she wasn’t nice to Nancy. She always acted as if she thought she was smarter. And her clothes were prettier. And her handwriting was neater” (p. 12). When Brenda tricks the girls into thinking she knows where Bess’s locket is Nancy gets mad at her and “opened her eyes wide and pretended to be surprised” that the broken ceiling fan chain wasn’t Bess’s gold locket. She says with a mean smile, “Gee, I could have sworn it looked like something Bess would wear” (p. 45). Catty girls already in the third grade!

Bess is quick to jump to conclusions and blame anyone. She thinks that the thief must be Mike since Jenny is too nice to steal anything. Nancy also thinks Jenny is nice but she is trying to be a detective and her father said that a detective always sticks to the facts so she makes sure she doesn’t try to rush to any conclusions without proof. She feels bad for wrongfully suspecting Karen especially after Bess tells her that her mother talked to Karen’s mother and discovered that Karen didn’t steal the money from the office but because everyone thinks she did when anything goes wrong she always is the first person blamed.

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