11 Book Series From Your Childhood You May Not Have Realized Are Still Releasing Books

Magic tree houses and minivans are both known to transport kids to soccer games on Sundays.
Magic tree houses and minivans are both known to transport kids to soccer games on Sundays.
Random House Kids, YouTube

You may have graduated to reading character-driven family dramas and gritty, atmospheric mysteries, but there’s a good chance today’s kids are still reaching for some of the same book series you loved during your own childhood—in recent releases, however, the characters are more likely to connect to Wi-Fi than they used to be. From literal-minded housemaid Amelia Bedelia to the perennially popular girl detective Nancy Drew, here are 11 decades-old book series that are still going strong.

1. Magic Tree House

Jack and Annie may be the most well-traveled characters in children's literature.Penguin Random House/Amazon

Mary Pope Osborne has been teaching children about history, mystery, and magic ever since the 1992 publication of Dinosaurs Before Dark, in which Annie and her older brother, Jack, first stumble upon the strange tree house that whisks them away to a different era each time they step inside. Over the course of nearly 30 years of adventures, they’ve braved about every natural disaster imaginable, crossed paths with historical heavyweights like Shakespeare and Ben Franklin, and completed captivating missions for Merlin the magician and Morgan Le Fay. In Narwhal on a Sunny Night, released earlier this year, the tree house deposits the heroes in Greenland, where they happen upon a certain hunter by the name of Leif Erikson.

2. Goosebumps

Slappy rocks a red bow tie better than most evil dummies.Scholastic/Amazon

If you grew up during the 1990s or early 2000s, hearing the name “R.L. Stine” might just be enough to send a shiver down your spine. The prolific horror writer published his first Goosebumps book in 1992, and has since added more than 130 scary stories to the series and its various spin-offs. His personal favorites are The Haunted Mask—a 1993 tale about an 11-year-old girl who dons a cursed Halloween mask that won’t let her remove it—and anything featuring Slappy, the evil dummy at the center of Stine’s latest spin-off series, Goosebumps SlappyWorld.

3. Amelia Bedelia

A young Amelia Bedelia knights her friend with what we hope is a cardboard sword.HarperCollins

In a world where cliché reigns supreme and the word literal is rarely used literally, Amelia Bedelia continues to remind us that language is cause for confusion—and, more importantly, laughter. The housemaid’s earnest attempts to complete tasks literally are always equal parts hilarious and endearing, from dusting the furniture (covering it in dust) to making a chicken dinner (serving the family a meal of cracked corn). Peggy Parish began the series in 1962, and her nephew Herman has kept it going since her death in 1988. He’s currently releasing novels in a spin-off series called Amelia Bedelia & Friends, which chronicles Amelia’s misadventures as a young girl.

4. The Boxcar Children

The Alden siblings will have to solve this mystery without Googling a thing.Albert Whitman & Co./Amazon

Without the continued prevalence of The Boxcar Children, kids these days might not even know what a boxcar actually is. Originally published in 1924, Gertrude Chandler Warner’s first novel about the four orphaned Aldens gained popularity when it was re-released in 1942, and she followed it up with another 18 stories about the children, who, thankfully, no longer lived in a boxcar. There are now more than 150 books in the series, known as The Boxcar Children Mysteries, and, although the characters have 21st-century privileges like internet access and middle school robotics teams, the books have managed to stay true to the old-timey, small-town spirit of Warner’s early editions.

5. The Berenstain Bears

Grizzly Gran reminds her crotchety crew of offspring that manners matter.Zonderkids/Amazon

Guided by the editorial prowess of none other than Theodor Geisel, Stan and Jan Berenstain published their first Berenstain Bears book, The Big Honey Hunt—originally called Freddy Bear’s Spanking—in 1962. They very nearly pivoted to penguins for their second story, but Geisel advised them to stick with bears since their first one was selling so well. The sometimes heavy-handed moral lessons make the books a little less whimsical than Geisel’s own Dr. Seuss classics, but that hasn’t seemed to diminish their popularity among youngsters. Stan and Jan died in 2005 and 2012, respectively, but the Berenstain Bears series lives on with their son Mike in the writer’s seat. In August, he’ll release The Berenstain Bears: Love Is Kind, in which Grizzly Gran teaches the family how to be polite.

6. Little Critter

Little Critter's ability to hold a pencil suggests that he has opposable thumbs.Penguin Random House

Author, illustrator, and self-identified “big kid” Mercer Mayer (he’s 76) differentiated himself from the Berenstains and other ursine writers by creating a new, unidentified creature of his own. Frizzy-furred, buck-toothed Little Critter first appeared in libraries and bookstores in 1975’s Just For You, and Mayer has steadily churned out book after book in the series ever since. The next story, due out this June, is called Little Critter Goes to School.

7. Nate the Great

Nearly 50 years later and Nate the Great remains admirably committed to his deerstalker hat.Penguin Random House

Marjorie Weinman Sharmat came up with the idea for a series about a boy detective after feeling underwhelmed by Dick and Jane and other popular books her children were finding on the shelves. She published the first novel, Nate the Great, in 1972, and continued releasing new Nate mysteries right up until her death at age 90 in March 2019. The most recent two, Nate the Great and the Missing Birthday Snake and Nate the Great and the Wandering Word, were co-written with her son, Andrew, so it’s possible he’ll take up the mantle for the next generation of Nate fans.

8. If You Give a…

Mouse is much more generous than he used to be. HarperCollins/Amazon

If you gave Laura Numeroff’s Mouse a cookie in 1985, it would’ve taken your small kindness and run with it, asking for milk, napkins, and various other items until you felt like you got played. Thirty-five years and more than a dozen books later, Mouse has gained some better intentions—in Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!, published in December 2019, he makes personalized valentines that reflect what he loves about his friends.

9. Nancy Drew

Would you listen to Nancy Drew's boyfriend's podcast?Simon & Schuster

Publisher Edward Stratemeyer originally came up with the plucky, multi-talented teenage sleuth in the 1930s as a way to make money off young female readers who weren’t buying into The Hardy Boys series. Needless to say, it worked. Ninety years later, Nancy Drew is still a household name to multiple generations, partially because she’s been featured in so many film and television adaptations, and partially because publishers continually update the character for modern audiences. In Famous Mistakes, the 17th book in Simon & Schuster’s current Nancy Drew Diaries series, for example, Nancy’s boyfriend, Ned, interviews a comedian for his podcast “NedTalks.”

10. The Hardy Boys

Frank and Joe Hardy shred gnarly waves in the name of shark rights.Simon & Schuster/Amazon

Not to be outdone by their sharp-witted little sister, so to speak, Frank and Joe Hardy have kept up with 21st-century trends, too. Action in the Hardy Boys Adventures—another Simon & Schuster enterprise—includes riding ATVs, trying to clear the name of an anonymous street artist-slash-activist, and acting as extras in a zombie film. In A Treacherous Tide, hitting stores on June 23, 2020, the brothers head to the Florida Keys to help protect the shark population.

11. Spot the Dog

Judging by the cover, it may be less of a stadium and more of a sports multiplex.Penguin Random House/Amazon

The publication of Eric Hill’s iconic lift-the-flap book Where’s Spot? in 1980 was the beginning of a beautiful, 40-year-long string of adorable books about a small, spotted yellow puppy with a smile that can turn any person into a dog lover. Hill, who often called himself “Spot’s Dad,” died in 2014, but Spot is still embarking on new adventures just about everywhere—you can find him at the stadium this spring and at a Halloween party in the fall.

Amazon's Best Cyber Monday Deals on Tablets, Wireless Headphones, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

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Cyber Monday has arrived, and with it comes some amazing deals. This sale is the one to watch if you are looking to get low prices on the latest Echo Dot, Fire Tablet, video games, Instant Pots, or 4K TVs. Even if you already took advantage of sales during Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday still has plenty to offer, especially on Amazon. We've compiled some the best deals out there on tech, computers, and kitchen appliances so you don't have to waste your time browsing.

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11 Fascinating Facts About Mark Twain

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Mark Twain is widely considered the author of the first great American novel—The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—but his rollicking tales aren’t the only legacy he left behind. His poignant quotes and witticisms have been told and retold (sometimes erroneously) over the last century and a half, and his volume of work speaks for itself. Over the course of his legendary career, Twain—real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens—wrote more than a dozen novels plus countless short stories and essays and still found time to invent new products, hang out with famous scientists, and look after a house full of cats.

1. Mark Twain is a nautical reference.

Like many of history’s literary greats, Mark Twain (né Samuel Langhorne Clemens) decided to assume an alias early on in his writing career. He tried out a few different names—Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, Sergeant Fathom, and, more plainly, Josh—before settling on Mark Twain, which means two fathoms (12 feet) deep in boating jargon. He got the idea while working as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River—a job he held for four years until the Civil War broke out in 1861, putting a halt to commerce. (However, another popular theory holds that he earned the nickname in a bar. According to reports in a couple of 19th-century newspapers, he’d walk into a pub and call out “mark twain!,” prompting the bartender to take a piece of chalk and make two marks on a wall for twain—two—drinks. Twain denied this version of events, though.)

2. In addition to being a steamboat pilot, Mark Twain also worked as a miner.

Shortly after his stint on The Big Muddy, Twain headed west with his brother to avoid having to fight in the war. He took up work as a miner in Virginia City, Nevada, but the job wasn't for him. (He described it as "hard and long and dismal.") Fortunately for Twain, he didn’t have to work there long. In 1862, he was offered his first writing job for Virginia City’s Territorial Enterprise newspaper, where he covered crime, politics, mining, and culture.

3. A story Mark Twain heard in a bar led to his “big break.”

Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress), Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1864, Twain headed to Calaveras County, California in hopes of striking gold as a prospector (he didn’t). However, it was during his time here that he heard the bartender of the Angels Hotel in Angels Camp share an incredulous story about a frog-jumping contest. Twain recounted the tale in his own words in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. It was published in 1865 in The New York Saturday Press and went on to receive national acclaim.

4. It took Mark Twain seven years to write The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Twain started writing the sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876, but he wasn’t too pleased with his progress. After writing about 400 pages, he told a friend he liked it "only tolerably well, as far as I have got, and may possibly pigeonhole or burn" the manuscript. He put the project on the back burner for several years and finally finished it in 1883 following a burst of inspiration.

5. Mark Twain invented a board game.

While Twain was putting off writing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he was busy working on a game he dubbed Memory Builder. It was originally supposed to be an outdoor game to help his children learn about England’s monarchs, but he ended up turning it into a board game to improve its chances of selling. However, after two years of work, it was still too convoluted to be marketable and required a vast knowledge of historical facts and dates. That didn’t stop him from patenting the game, though.

6. Mark Twain created "improved" scrapbooks and suspenders.

Memory Builder wasn't Twain's only invention; he also patented two other products. One was inspired by his love of scrapbooking, while the other came about from his hatred of suspenders. He designed a self-adhesive scrapbook that works like an envelope, which netted him about $50,000 in profits. His “improvement in adjustable and detachable straps for garments” also ended up being useful, but for an entirely different purpose than Twain originally intended. According to The Atlantic, “This clever invention only caught on for one snug garment: the bra. For those with little brassiere experience, not a button, nor a snap, but a clasp is all that secures that elastic band, which holds up women's breasts. So not-so-dexterous ladies and gents, you can thank Mark Twain for that."

7. Thomas Edison filmed Twain at home.

Only one video of Twain exists, and it was shot by none other than his close friend Thomas Edison. The footage was captured in 1909—one year before the author died—at Twain’s estate in Redding, Connecticut. He’s seen sporting a light-colored suit and his usual walrus mustache, and one scene shows him with his daughters, Clara and Jean. On a separate occasion that same year, Edison recorded Twain as he read stories into a phonograph, but those audio clips were destroyed in a fire. No other recording of Twain’s voice exists.

8. Mark Twain did wear white suits, but not as often as you might think.

Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

When you think of Mark Twain, you probably picture him in an all-white suit with a cigar or pipe hanging from his lips. It’s true that he was photographed in a white suit on several occasions, but he didn’t start this habit until later in life. According to The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, “In December 1906, he wore a white suit while appearing before a congressional committee regarding copyright. He did this for dramatic emphasis. Several times after that he wore white out of season for effect.” He also refused to trade his white clothes for “shapeless and degrading black ones” in the winter, no matter how cold it got. So take that, people who subscribe to the “no white after Labor Day” rule.

9. At one point, Mark Twain had 19 cats.

Twain really, really liked cats—so much so that he had 19 of them at one time. And if he was traveling, he would “rent” cats to keep him company. In fact, he had a much higher opinion of felines than humans, remarking, “If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” He also had a talent for coming up with some great cat names; Beelzebub, Blatherskite, Buffalo Bill, Sour Mash, Zoroaster, Soapy Sal, Pestilence, Bambino, and Satan were just a few of the kitties in his brood.

10. Mark Twain probably didn’t say that thing you think he said.

Twain is one of the most misquoted authors in history. According to one quote wrongfully attributed to him, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” What Twain actually said was, “[He] was endowed with a stupidity which by the least little stretch would go around the globe four times and tie.” There are many, many examples of these.

11. Mark Twain accurately predicted when he would die.

When he was born on November 30, 1835, Halley’s Comet was visible from Earth. It appears roughly every 75 years, and Twain predicted he would die the next time it graced the sky. As he put it in 1909, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ Oh, I am looking forward to that.” He ended up passing away at his Connecticut home on April 21, 1910, one day after Halley’s Comet appeared in the sky once again.

This story has been updated for 2020.