Picks and Pans Review: The New Bobbsey Twins: the Secret of Jungle Park

updated 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Laura Lee Hope

Those bright-eyed Bobbseys are back. You remember Flossie and Freddie, the bubbly 7-year-olds? And Bert and Nan, their quasi-parental 12-year-old brother and sister? Richard, their dad, still works in the lumberyard, but now mom Mary is all grown up with a part-time job as a reporter at the Lakeport News. Yes, after 83 years of relentlessly sound morals and cheery dispositions, everyone is still as wholesome as a glass of after-school milk. And just about as boring. In this, the kickoff volume of an updated series of double duo adventures, Bert and Nan have formed a rock group called the Aliens. They're competing for a set of microphones in a battle of the bands at an amusement park. Right before they go on, a smoke bomb goes off, and the stage is enveloped in a big black cloud. Time for our sibling supersleuths to investigate. Who is trying to close down Jungle Park? The question is: Who cares? Why don't the Bobbseys investigate some truly destructive social force, such as the David Letterman show? Were the Bobbseys really this stultifying back in 1904? Like the original Bobbsey Twins books, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and other classic literary cornerstones of American youth, the new series is written by a committee under a pseudonym—Laura Lee Hope in this case. In an attempt to bring their turn-of-the-century characters up to speed, they've eliminated the "colored" maid, Dinah, and given her husband a job at Mr. Bobbsey's lumberyard. Nan now wears silver eye shadow and purple lipstick and says things like "Give me a break, Flossie." Bert decorates his arm with red-dyed corn syrup for maximum punk appeal and carries a Rex Sleuther Pocket Crime-Solver—a pocketknife "with all sorts of gadgets on it." If Jungle Park is representative of the balance of the stories, however, the Bobbseys may finally be plain tuckered out. The modernizations are mechanical, the dialogue is flat, and the story line is singularly unimaginative. Only in the event of a truly disastrous recreational catastrophe—a rainy day or a missing Chutes and Ladders board—can a case be made for 7-to 9-year-olds cracking a Bobbsey cover. (Pocket Books, $2.95)

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