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These bright yellow hardcovers are almost as iconic as Nancy Drew herself. They’re not the originals – these Nancy Drew covers were used for the shortened and revised versions of the original books commissioned by publisher Grosset & Dunlap from 1959 – but they’ve been around for so long and are so closely associated with the detective teenager. that they might as well be.
The most dated covers (hello, Red door closes) are by illustrator Bill Gaines. But most of those gorgeous Nancy Drew book covers are by Rudy Nappi. With the generous help of his wife Peggy, who read and summarized the books for him, Nappi created the memorable artwork seen on the covers of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books.
But which of these covers are the best? Since I recently went back and re-read The Original 56 Nancy Drew Adventures, I think that makes me qualified to judge. So here we go, mystery fans: Nancy Drew’s ten best book covers!
The invisible intruder
I don’t care what anybody says, that stingray is adorable. I know that’s supposed to be threatening, but just… look at him. Look at her face.
The twisted ramp
I can’t help but laugh at how ugly this one is. Why is everything painted hot pink? Why does Nancy disappear as one of Marty McFly’s relatives? Is the robot of Santa Claus conquers the Martians? Mr. Nappi, I applaud your bold and terrible choices.
Top 10 Nancy Drew Book Covers
ten. The clue in the newspaper
This is the only Gaines cover on the list. There’s so much going on: Nancy is screaming for this super suspicious looking man to stop while a house is burning behind them! It definitely captured my interest and made me curious to know what the book was about. And then the book itself killed that interest by being a bit boring.
9. The Whistling Bagpipe Clue
Never mind Nancy, this backdrop is GORGEOUS. It makes me want to grab a kilt and a sword and go behead someone to a Queen soundtrack.
8. The mystery of the hidden window
I love all blues. And the composition, with the window that stands behind Nancy, gives it a sacred air, as if we were in a church or a museum.
7. The Mystery of the Fire Dragon
I have always loved this cover. As a child, I loved bright colors. As an adult, I appreciate that the composition feels like Nancy is coming out of her hobbit hole in the face of an impending hate crime.
6. The Double Jinx Mystery
This one has such a great vibe. It’s all dark and claustrophobic, like Nancy and Ned wandering through a spooky forest at night. (Spoilers: they don’t do that in the book.) Plus, this bird is totally judging them.
5. Moss Covered Mansion Mystery
Normally I’m not a fan of Nappi’s “cluster o’ things” covers (except The twisted ramp, obviously), but this one is well-organized, ranging from Nancy’s confused face to the titular mansion. This panther will definitely eat someone.
4. The Ghost of Blackwood Hall
Ooh, what a weird cover that is! I can practically feel the cobwebs in my hair walking around this creepy mansion. The light effect on our musical ghost is also well done.
3. The mystery of the 99 steps
This one is simple yet so menacing, even with Nancy’s slightly goofy pose there. I like the dark figure at the top, but if you read the book, you realize that person is probably just Nancy’s friend, Bess. Another well done recovery!
2. The secret of the old clock
What an icon. Even people who have never read Nancy Drew in their life will recognize this one. I also like the strangeness of the situation. Why is a teenage girl playing with a clock in the middle of a field? And what makes her look over her shoulder in concern that way? Very intriguing.
1. The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Why is Nancy a ghost? Is that Tara behind her? I’m not saying, but it’s a really nice atmospheric cover – I love the full moon peeking through the clouds and, of course, the lilac bushes.