- The Mysterious Schoolmaster
- The Robber Ghost
- Madcap Mystery
- Rider by Night
- The Riddle of the Ring
Published in the 1950’s (except the last book, in 1964), all five of these books are set in the same small Swedish town. The first three books are about the same group of friends, especially focused on Michael and Cecelia. Rider by Night is a few years later and only mentions Michael and Cecelia obliquely, although another member of the “gang” is an important character in the story. The final book, The Riddle of the Ring, is actually about one Cecelia’s younger brothers, now in high school, who was just a baby in the first book.
All of these books were originally written in Swedish and were translated into English, and at least a few of them were published as Scholastic Book Club books, because those are the editions that I have of The Mysterious Schoolmaster, Madcap Mystery, and Rider by Night.
There are great middle grade reads. The Mysterious Schoolmaster focuses on a new teacher that seems to be acting suspiciously. In the midst of the Cold War, Nordvick is an important naval town, and Michael’s father is the captain of a… ship or submarine or something along those lines – so he is especially aware of the danger of spies. I saw a couple of reviews ragging this book for encouraging children to be distrustful of foreigners (although that’s literally not at all why they’re suspicious of this schoolteacher), but I really don’t think most kids are going to read this and then thing anyone who doesn’t speak English well is actually a spy. I mean seriously. Anyway, it’s a fun little adventure that I quite enjoyed as a youngster (and didn’t find inspiring me to assume all teachers I didn’t like were international spies).
The Robber Ghost and Madcap Mystery are a bit more mundane but are still fun stories. These focus more on more typical middle grade/junior high problems with new students, bad grades, and potentially bad influences. While I didn’t like these quite as well, they are still good stories.
Rider by Night is about an entirely different girl, although she does meet with a boy from Michael and Cecelia’s group of friends. Jenny is completely horse crazy, and the story begins when her uncle gives her a horse of her own, which she boards at the local stables. At first all is well, but soon Jenny begins to notice that something is “off” about her horse, and suspects that someone else is riding the horse on the sly. I actually really enjoyed this book. Along with The Mysterious Schoolmaster, I’ve owned it basically forever, and it’s the reason that I ended up finding the rest of the books, because somewhere along the line I realized that the Michael and Cecelia that Jenny runs into are the same characters from Schoolmaster, which led to me discovering the other three books. Growing up, I was a bit horse crazy myself (without a horse-gifting uncle, alas) and this book was in my regular rotation of horse stories.
The final book is about a girl named Tommi and her friend, Henrick, who also happens to be Cecelia’s little brother. Through a series of mostly believable events, Tommi’s mother is gifted a valuable ring, which Tommi accidentally takes to school – where it disappears. This is a fun mystery because the solution is just so genuinely clever, and I loved it.
Overall, these were all in the 3.5-4* range. Enjoyable and engaging with likable characters, they aren’t exactly brilliant, gripping stories, but I loved them as a kid and still enjoy them now.