Want wholesome fun, in a world in which teenagers consider an ice cream soda a prize worth competing for, yet have the skills and parental concessions necessary to sail all day by themselves, even camping out overnight? Well, the Frank and Andy trilogy is for you.
In Frank and Andy Afloat, the boys are spending the summer with their parents in the family’s summer cottage on the shore; the main action begins with the boys racing home in their rowboats ahead of a storm when one of the boats is stove in by an injured whale. The boys go out in the Gull to search for the whale, but are caught by that storm; as they turn for shore, they spot a wrecked motorboat with a drowning boy nearby. Being not only wholesome and athletic but helpful boys, they rescue the boy in the water, who proves to be not only amnesiac but in possession of a secret for which he is being hotly pursued by an Evil Perpetrator of the sort who ties women to railroad tracks when he hasn’t anything better to do.
After being stranded on a nearby island by yet another storm, then trapped in a cave by that selfsame Evil Perpetrator just as the tide is rising, Frank and Andy capture E.P. and are rescued by their father and a friend with a motorboat large enough to ride the still choppy waves. All ends well, as Paul the amnesiac boy recovers his memory upon seeing Evil Perpetrator, recalling where he left the secret business information which would save his desperately ill father’s desperately financially-strapped company.
Frank and Andy at Boarding School picks up the following fall, with more wholesome adventures from those earnest yet jolly scamps, Frank and Andy, whom we first met in Frank and Andy Afloat. Here they’re attending boarding school, as their parents believe it will provide them a quite protected and protective environment to keep them out of trouble the likes of which they found aplenty the previous summer.
Instead, the school is a dilapidated underfunded wreck, with a headmaster so absentmindedly scholarly, that he cannot remember even whether the pair were there the year before, despite being told repeatedly. The boys discover that not only is the academic side of things woefully inadequate, there aren’t even ANY sports. It still being early fall, they organize their new chums into a crew team, though this requires first repairing the shells and sculls! They issue a challenge to the snobby nearby school, Waterside Hall, which turns them down flat, as Waterside does not compete with teams not in their class.
The football team proves equally successful in building morale and teamwork skills…but equally UN-successful in terms of garnering competition from neighboring schools. In the middle of all this athleticism, the school is about to close for lack of funding until the wealthy friend of the headmaster sees how Frank and Andy have begun to turn the school’s athletics program around with little more than boyish charm and verve. All ends well.
It’s amusing, for those of us who can stand early twentieth century cookie cutter series, though by about page thirty of Frank and Andy Afloat, I was starting to get “Rover Boys” flashbacks. Now this is peculiar, as I have, so far as I remember, never read a Rover Boys book, but the Frank and Andy books have that same wholesome ‘good chums’ air of oodles of fresh air and slightly stilted language. Sure enough. It’s another of the many Stratemeyer syndicate series set in an innocent world something akin to Enid Blyton. It’s not entirely a realistic world, compared to today, though I can’t speak for the accuracy when it was written (though I expect it isn’t!): the boys are skilled sailors at 14 and 15 years old, and their parents allow them to camp overnight on a nearby uninhabited island.
But then it’s no less unbelievable, if you stop to think about it, than, say, a girl just finished high school casually booking herself into a resort with her two chums or flying off to Hong Kong at the drop of a night flight.