People have been inquiring, without much objectivity, about this burning question for some time, so I decided to jump in and see what could be found in the information provided on the Interwebs. Who provided more books to its readers: The Baby Sitter’s Club or Sweet Valley High? The consensus was that we would find Sweet Valley High in the ascendance, but then people started throwing other names around. Where did Goosebumps fall in the ratings? What about Trixie Belden? So I did a quick browse online, skipping over characters drawn from other media (So look elsewhere for, say, Scooby-Doo Meets Spider-Man in the Case of the Multiple Hyphens or Batman and Cheetah Caper.) Following the clues, this is what I learned.
Harry Potter: Forget it. Even if you count the side books and scripts, we come to only about 12. It’s what happens if you’re dependent on just one writer.
Trixie Belden comes in with just 39 books, beating, anyhow, The Happy Hollisters.
The Wizard of Oz, if you include Gregory Maguire’s Wicked Series, the graphic novels, and the more authorized sequels, comes to 84 books.
Tom Swift, appearing in novels by Victor Appleton (Tom Swift, Jr. appeared in his own adventures by Victor Appleton, Jr. but was then replaced by new adventures by Victor Appleton about a younger Tom Swift) comes to108, which is probably about the age of Victor Appleton by now.
Goosebumps produced 188 novels; I am told the later ones get scarier and scarier, but you couldn’t prove it by me. The originals were too scary for me to look through.
Kristy, Stacey, Mary Anne, and Claudia, founders of the Baby Sitter’s Club, can be proud of 333 novels, including all their spin-offs, little sisters, prequels, sequels, and the movie tie-in. Remarks have been made about the amount of actual baby-sitting done in some of the novels, but isn’t it required of a series that mysteries MUST be solved? Anyway, they didn’t go through quite so many changes as
The Hardy Boys: Frank and Joe have 506 volumes on their shelf, including graphic novels, team-ups with Tom Swift, comic books, TV series, video games, and, um, a series as the Clues Brothers which some hard-core fans would like to forget. They have by turn been lone crusaders, technological supergeniuses, and just guys who hang out and solve mysteries. But they have been at this for nearly a hundred years.
The kids at Sweet Valley High have been through nearly as many changes in their 596 volumes, which include Sweet Valley Junior High, Sweet Valley University, and so on. Eventually, the twins, Jessica and Elizabeth were followed from their time in second grade through three different series devoted to their lives in sixth grade, seventh grade, and eighth grade, to their main adventures in high school, to college and finally what was called by critics “a very bad book” about what they’re like in their late twenties. This saga, however, falls just behind (you guessed it)
Nancy Drew, who has some 613 volumes to her credit, by my count. She also suffered through a series showing her as an 8 year-old, did semi-hardboiled private eye first person narratives, had a mildly goofy series similar to the Clues Brothers, and was offstage hostess for a series of romance novels set in her home town. This count does not include the scholarly studies, the parodies (I have heard of a series where she has grown up to do tedious divorce investigation for her father’s clients), or my own short story in which she teams up (briefly) with Mr. Spock (you had to be there.)
I realize that I have included no figures on Sue Barton vs. Cherry Ames in the nurse series department, the animal series (Pony Club, Pet Motel), the ballet series, the modeling series, Gossip Girls…if I had the energy to do all that research, I’d be writing my own series. (Stay tuned for installments of the Book Sorters Club: coming soon to a middle school near you.)