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The Secret Circle Mysteries

· The Secret Circle,Mysteries,Juvenile Literature,Young Adult Books,Fine Book Collecting

Over the past several years, our section of juvenile literature at Raven & Gryphon Fine Books has grown from tiny to small. I think the Hardy Boys and the Nancy Drew series were pioneer juvenile series. Now there seems to be whole sections in bookstores on juvenile or young adult series. I seldom buy early series books because they typically have lost their dust jackets and many of them are reprint versions with little detail of their publishing history and condition is often an issue as well.

Not surprisingly, when I do find juveniles that are first editions, in dust jackets, and in acceptable condition, I usually find multiple books in the series. So, our small section often has two or three books in the same series.

Not too long ago, I came across two books in a series that I had never come across before – The Secret Circle Mysteries. They were attractive, had a great series logo and here is what was printed at the top of the back of the dust jacket:



Each Secret Circle story is set in a different part of Canada and is packed with enough thrills, action and enjoyment to keep even the most reluctant reader turning its pages. For boys and girls from 10 to 14.

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Wow! A Canadian juvenile series. I found a copy of their series advertisement which provides some insight into the series. “The Secret Circle Mysteries is a set of books published by Little Brown and Company in Canada. This is a publisher set rather than a series. (Whoops!) Each story is complete in itself, and each book features different characters. Even though each book has different characters, the books comprise a cohesive set due to the similarity and spirit of the stories. Each book is set in Canada, usually in the wilderness but sometimes in a city. The plots often involve old maps that lead to hidden treasure. The location of the treasure is often said to be cursed, and the children are in a race to find the treasure before the villains do. Most of the books have one or more detailed maps included in the body of the text, which helps the reader picture the setting of the book.”

Not mentioned above is the fact that the books have illustrations aside from the maps. There are 10 books in the set, published from 1962 to 1965. The authors were David Gammon (2), Lawrence Earl, Robert Collins, Arthur Hammond (2) Max Braithwaite (2), Scott Young, and Robert Thomas Allen.

Let’s have a look at the two books that we have.

The Clue of the Dead Duck, Scott Young, illustrated by Douglas Johnson, The Secret Circle Mysteries Number 6, General Editor – Arthur Hammond, Little Brown and Company, Toronto, 1962. Interesting, this book was printed and bound in England. From the blurb - “When Young Ab and his chum Morgan skipped school to go duck hunting, they refused to take their next-door neighbour, Sally, along. But when Morgan was knocked out by an unknown assailant and Young Ab and his dog disappeared, Morgan was only too glad to enlist Sally’s help to look for his friend and to clear himself from suspicion.”

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The author’s name rang a bell, sure enough, he was the same Scott Young that was the Sports columnist for the Toronto Globe & Mail. He was also the father of the somewhat more famous Neil Young.

The Valley of the Vanishing Birds, Max Braithwaite, illustrated by Wendy Hawgood, The Secret Circle Mysteries Number 8, General Editor – Arthur Hammond, Little Brown and Company, Toronto, 1963. No statement about printing, so presumably done in Canada. From the blurb – “Jeff Gardner and his sister Mattie, friend Mutt, and pet crow Oscar are exploring the wilderness of Northern Alberta on a camping trip. Suddenly they are swept over the lip of a waterfall into a deep pool thirty feet below. They have found the hidden valley of the whooping cranes and the Tsa’tcu Indians, long thought to be an extinct tribe.”

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Max Braithwaite is a very well known Canadian writer and CBC personality. This title does not appear in the listing of his works on Wikipedia. But “Whooping Crane Adventure” is listed in 1963 with a notation it was reissued by Gage in 1988. The latter must have retitled the book.

I am surprised that I have never come across this series before. But then, I am constantly surprised living in the world of books.