New Horizons by Lois Gladys Leppard

When this first book of the new Mandie series came across my desk, I decided to read it to learn a little about this popular girls series. Having never read any of the books and having two sisters who had read some of them, I was curious about the story. I also figured that it would make good research in case I ever have daughters.

The plot (what there was of it) was confusing and poorly written. I realize that I am a tad old for the target audience (and the wrong gender), but from a literary standpoint, the book should not have been published. If I had a daughter, I would not be concerned about her learning objectionable material from this book. However, I would be concerned from a educational perspective. We should encourage our children to read quality literature. The plot meanders along without much purpose. Some great authors have written novels without a strong focus on climax and conflict (e.g. Little House on the Prairie and Little Women). New Horisons vascilates between the meandering style of the afformentioned classics and literature based on climax and conflict. After sufficient climax has been developed, the story meanders off without resolution. At points, I saw potential to draw out a great story from the plot and this book could have been several distinct stories. The mystery of the haunted boarding house could have been a great book, but alas, after the suspense was built up sufficiently, the plot changed direction without giving resolution. Later the resolution was presented through several quick comments. It came across as if the plot lost focus repeatedly. Many sub-plots arose to the surface as if they were to be the main story, and then were quickly discarded through a brief and somewhat unrealistic resolution as the story abruptly changed directions (e.g. the snobby girls abruptly changed into repentant and humble classmates).

As best as I can tell, the original series was not this poorly written.

Final tally? If your child is a fan of the Mandie books, they might enjoy this story. Otherwise, start your child on another series of books.

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