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Sweet Valley High Gets “Updated”

June 1, 2008

I stumbled across this gem, in the archives of poundy.com

It seems that Random House is updating the Sweet Valley High books.  Now, the Wakefield Twins, Jessica and Elizabeth, are “a perfect size 4, instead of the perfect size 6 they were in 1983.”

This is outrageous and weird on so many levels, as the post delineates beautifully.

“Just how many middle-grade and YA books published before 2005 are presumably now utterly confusing and unreadable to her because they’re about these so-called pretty pudgy girls who lumber around wearing culottes and listening to “Walkmans” and using pay phones?”

Exactly.  For the publishers to make this change makes a really disturbing assumption, not just about body image and “perfection,” but that somehow, girls need to be sheltered from reading confusing, dated references, and coddled in a world full of things they will understand.   I’m not the only one wondering where this leaves “Little House on the Prairie.”

I should also confess.  I didn’t read too many of the Sweet Valley High books when I was a kid.  I thought it was kind of cool that Elizabeth shared my name, and I think she was supposed to be the marginally more “studious” one.  But really, I remember reading a handful of them when my friends did, and thinking they were fake and boring.  (Also, the cliffhangers continued in the next book made me mad!  Even as an 11 year old, I resented being manipulated by that.)

And I’m making a note to myself here- to write a post about Cherry Ames books, published in the 1940’s.  I collect them.  And I read them too, as a kid, fascinated by the way things were different for nursing, and for Cherry’s everyday life.  (Similarly, if anyone can get me a copy, in good condition of Cherry Ames: Jungle Nurse, I will pledge my devotion to you eternally.)

Also, go check out poundy.com Wendy McClure is a terrific, honest, funny writer and blogger with a powerful voice about issues of health,  body image and everyday life.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. NancyDrew permalink
    June 1, 2008 9:39 pm

    Did the publisher do the same to Nancy Drew too? Change her size when they updated the books with the Nancy Drew Casefiles etc? I remember they updated them and the Hardy Boys. Might be an interesting comparison.

  2. November 5, 2008 8:45 pm

    That’s just crazy. So the message is that size six is fat? Oh the insanity!

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  1. I am too young to have my childhood books updated! « Elizabeth Willse

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