The Bobbsey Twins are one of the four big titles produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the others being Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Tom Swift. Unlike the protagonists of the other stories, the Bobbsey Twins are very young. There are actually two sets of fraternal twins, two of whom were roughly six years old and the other two ten in this story. I had never read one of the books before but had always been curious about them. Unlike the Stratemeyer Syndicate’s two famous detective series, the Bobbsey children aren’t wannabe investigators. They are just basically good children who stumble into trouble. The series began in 1904 and was revised in 1960. That setting is important as these are highly unsupervised kids—something that wasn’t all that unusual in the U.S. in the twentieth century.
The plot of this novel revolves around a young child whom the twins meet. He is connected to the county fair where much of the action takes place. His “guardian” is a nasty man who claims to have adopted him and is intent on using his musical skills to make money. The children, together with some kind adults, question the “guardian’s” story, but the kids really don’t investigate. They get into interesting little problems while occasionally bringing the situation to the attention of adults. As is probably true of every book produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the story has a happy ending.
I’m frankly not certain if children would enjoy this story today. At 182 pages, it’s fairly long, and while the adventure is episodic and does focus on kids, it strikes me that most modern children’s books for this age group are much shorter. This may explain why the attempt to revive the series in the eighties was ultimately unsuccessful.