The Barbara Ann Series

The Barbara Ann Series
by Ruth Grosby

Barbara looked up quickly.  "Leave now, Bob Allen, when you're in just as much danger as the rest of us?  Why, I should say not!  Besides, I wouldn't miss all this excitement for the world!"

Bob looked at her with admiring eyes.  "You are a spunky little thing!" he said, and Barbara Ann knew he could pay her no higher compliment.

                                                                  —page 89, The Mystery at Mountain View

The Barbara Ann Series was published by Grosset and Dunlap in hardcover with dust jacket from 1939 through 1942.  The series was written by Ruth Grosby.  Volume 1 was illustrated by E. C. Van Swearingen, and volumes 2 through 4 were illustrated by Paul Laune, best known for his Hardy Boys illustrations.
Titles in the Barbara Ann Series:

  1. The Stolen Blueprints, 1939
  2. The Mystery at Mountain View, 1940
  3. Mystery across the Border, 1941
  4. The Clue in the Camera, 1942

In the first book, Barbara Ann Wilson is a junior at Butler High School.  By the last book, Barbara Ann is a freshman in college at Midwestern.  Her boyfriend, Bob Allen, is an athlete who is always willing to help Barbara Ann whenever he is needed.  Barbara Ann's best friend is Beverly Wentworth, and the two girls are called the "B.W.'s" by their friends.

This is a short-lived series that is rather good and is well worth reading.  It captures elements of Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, Trixie Belden, and Beverly Gray.  In volume 3, Bob Allen and their friends name their car Susabella, which is a possible reference to the Beverly Gray series.  Barbara Ann's predicaments are rather similar to some of the ones that Beverly Gray finds herself in, so this series may have been modeled in part after the Beverly Gray series.

As with other short-lived series, the books are not in great demand since most people have never heard of this series.  Books that are lacking the dust jackets should sell for around $10.00 or less.  Books that have intact dust jackets can sometimes sell for $20.00 to $40.00 depending upon the title and condition of the dust jacket.

  #1 The Stolen Blueprints                                                  1939
Barbara Ann wants more than anything to travel with her school friends on a three week tour of Colorado, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone Park, but her hopes are dashed when her mother informs her that money is too tight.  Mr. Wilson's architectural firm has lost most of its recent contracts to a new rival firm, Howard and Johnston.  Barbara Ann will not be able to go on the school trip unless her father lands the contract for the new school auditorium.

Barbara Ann learns that in all of the instances in which Mr. Wilson lost a contract, Howard and Johnston submitted nearly identical plans with only a few minor changes and with a lower estimate.  Barbara Ann smells a rat and is determined to find out how the rival company is copying Mr. Wilson's plans.  Barbara Ann's determination is fueled by her desire to go on the school trip.
The Stolen Blueprints
Barbara Ann's one clue is a pipe with a nicked edge, but at first she fails to recognize the significance of her discovery.  Barbara Ann investigates a strange light in her father's office late at night, and later, she conducts a dangerous search in the rival company's offices.  Barbara Ann's impetuousness lands her in grave danger, and she must rely on more than just luck to get her out of trouble.
  #2 The Mystery at Mountain View                                    1940
Barbara Ann and her friends depart on the long-awaited trip to Colorado.  The group first visits Yellowstone Park and the Grand Canyon, and during their stay at Yellowstone Park, a woman warns Barbara Ann about their final destination, Mountain View.  When Barbara Ann tries to obtain additional information, the woman's companion prevents her from saying more.  Barbara Ann wonders what is wrong at Mountain View.

Barbara Ann's boyfriend, Bob Allen, has a job at Mountain View, and Barbara Ann senses that he is worried about something.  Bob at first refuses to impart any information other than the fact that business is much slower than it used to be.  After Barbara Ann and her friend, Beverly, witness a few strange events, including a sinister voice that comes out of nowhere and a ghostly figure floating in the air, Bob finally confesses that someone is playing ghost.
The Mystery at Mountain View
Barbara Ann learns that a man, Mr. Gregory, has tried to buy the inn at a ridiculously low price.  After Barbara Ann learns of a mysterious cabin in the woods that is frequented by Mr. Gregory, she and Bob Allen investigate—and nearly lose their lives!
  #3 Mystery across the Border                                           1941
Barbara Ann, her best friend, Beverly, and Barbara Ann's family travel by car to Mexico.  Also traveling to Mexico are Bob Allen and his friends in Bob's car, Susabella.  During their journey, the travelers meet Jonathan Stedman, an oil magnate on his way to Mexico on business.  Mr. Stedman takes a liking to Barbara Ann and invites the travelers to visit him at his second home in Mexico.

Barbara Ann learns that Mr. Stedman is a lonely man whose daughter is dead.  Mr. Stedman was raising his granddaughter when she disappeared at the age of three.  The girl is believed to have drowned in the ocean, but since her body has not been found, Mr. Stedman clings to the hope that his beloved granddaughter, Barbara, will someday be found.

Mystery across the Border
In the meantime, Barbara Ann observes the suspicious behavior of Mr. Stedman's nephew and wonders what the man is hiding.  Barbara Ann and her friends enjoy touring the Aztec ruins but also experience their share of harrowing adventures.  Before the end of their vacation, the young people help discover the true story of what happened to Mr. Stedman's niece and return home with many great memories of their Mexican trip.
  #4 The Clue in the Camera                                               1942
Barbara Ann Wilson begins her freshman year at Midwestern.  Barbara Ann's favorite class is English, and her instructor, Mr. Webster, is very popular on campus.  Barbara Ann is shocked to learn that several valuable first editions have been stolen from the campus library, and Mr. Webster is the primary suspect.  Barbara Ann is certain that Mr. Webster is innocent.

Barbara Ann joins the photography club and decides to take a picture of the college library after dark.  She sets the exposure time for 30 minutes and retrieves her camera after the time has elapsed.  When the film is developed, Barbara Ann is dismayed to see Mr. Webster on the film.  What if Barbara Ann's beloved instructor is the thief!  Barbara Ann is faced with the dilemma of whether she should take her picture to the authorities.

The Clue in the Camera
For a time, Barbara Ann is distracted from the mystery of the stolen books when Bob Allen is kidnapped.  Later, Barbara Ann uncovers more evidence against Mr. Webster, but she still feels that he is innocent.  Can Barbara Ann possibly find a clue that will help exonerate Mr. Webster?
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