In recent years, there has been a growing interest in detective literature among the youngest readers. The appeal of this type of literature is confirmed not only by a kind of “publication overproduction” observable in the segment of books for children and young adults, but also by reader rankings. The latter also show two significant trends: firstly — the declining age of the youngest readers who choose detective stories, secondly — girls are beginning to prevail among the young recipients of this literature.
The goal of the article is to seek an answer to the question why young girls increasingly often choose detective literature and what makes it attractive from the reception perspective. The example which is the focus of attention is the mystery-type trilogy written by American author Karen Karbo about the adventures of an eccentric teenager Minerva Clark. The series consists of the following volumes: Minerva Clark Gets a Clue, Minerva Clark Goes to the Dogs, and Minerva Clark Gives Up the Ghost, all of which can be categorized as classical detective stories.
The latest detective fiction for young girls, which readily utilizes gender and feminist topics, features more and more characters of brave and independent female amateur detectives. Minerva Clark has joined this colorful gallery of characters, who appeared in the twentieth-century literature thanks to Miss Marple novels authored by Agatha Christie. The literary character of Minerva Clark arouses associations with another fictional character meant for female teenage readers — Nancy Drew, the titular hero of American novels Nancy Drew Mystery Series, published in the USA since the 1930s.
Minerva Clark has become part of the contemporary discourse on femininity and the role of gender in popular culture. The popularity of the trilogy in question as well as the whole trend of detective stories for girls can be explained in several ways. Apart from the feminine topic repertoire, the literary factors are of significance: suspense-keeping stories, captivating plots, young people’s slang, and most of all — humor, highly thought of by the young audience. In Karen Karbo’s series we are dealing with verbal-intellectual and situational comedy as well as that of characters. The content-related comedy-making factors in the trilogy about Minerva Clark also include humorous narration (play on words), situational scenes, and a happy ending. Books about female teenage detectives such as Minerva evoke a substantial response among their gender also because they are written with present-day girls and their needs in mind.