small Judy Bolton collage

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Melissa Manuscript zCoverMELISSA OF DRY BOOK HOLLOW or The Great Roulsville Flood

(published as The Vanishing Shadow, the first Judy Bolton Mystery)

"The sky had been blue for a long time, not a bright, beautiful blue, but dull and faded, as if the sun had scorched all the brightness out of it.  Farmer's crops were withering on the hillsides and Dry Brook, so called becasue it sometimes dried up during July and August, was already dry before the end of June.  A few muddy pools still remained in shady places, but the rest of the brook bed had hardened and cracked from the heat.Melissa Smeed had searched out the coolest place to be found, under a beech tree on a mossy log...."

Thus begins the manuscript which was submitted to publishers by Rachel B. Sutton along with a second manuscript, MELISSA MOVES TO TOWN or Adventures in a Haunted House (published as The Haunted Attic). Both the main character and the author were renamed, and Margaret Sutton’s Judy Bolton Mystery series went on to become the longest lasting juvenile mystery series by an individual author.

The fragile pages of these two yellowed manuscripts, including handwritten revisions, have been copied and are now being bound into one volume and offered for sale by the author’s family.  The book includes the author’s suggested illustrations.  The introduction features a letter from the young author to a potential publisher giving the titles, subtitles and brief plot outlines of the 10 proposed Melissa books.  Especially moving is the section where Mrs. Sutton expresses her hopes that the series will “help these girls to understand one another better and make allowances for those whose manners and social position are not quite up to standard.”

Series book fans will appreciate comparing the differences between Melissa the farmer’s daughter and her brother Horace, who plans to be a minister, and the more sophisticated Bolton family.  The first page even mentions some of the other series books Melissa has been reading!

The volume containing both manuscripts will be printed in March 2011 based on pre-paid orders.  To order, send $25 ($20 + $5 S&H to USA before February 28, 2011 to:

Lindsay Stroh, 311 Stafford Drive, Catonsville, MD 21228

Paypal orders may be sent to  Please include an email address or phone number for confirmation. Contact Lindsay for information about S&H discounts for multiple orders and S&H for orders outside the USA.


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