Back in March, Snow Wildsmith reviewed the first Max Finder Mystery collection of middle-grade mysteries in comics form with this praise:
Both boys and girls should enjoy the stories as each of the two detectives has their moment to shine, so even though the series is named for Max, it’s obvious that they are equal partners.Except that one gets his name in the title, and the other doesn’t. So are they really equal?
In the Encyclopedia Brown books, the hero also had a female helper, Sally Kimball—though she wasn’t in on every case. In a break with gender stereotypes, Donald J. Sobol made Sally the muscle of the outfit; she was tough enough to keep Bugs Meany from beating up brainy Leroy Brown. But she was clearly in a supporting role, and the guy got top billing.
Are there counterexamples for this pattern? For example, what about the Sammy Keyes mysteries, by Wendelin Van Draanen? Those have a young female detective front and center.
Well, not front. The current paperback packaging features the villains, not the detective, on the front covers. Sammy does appear on the hardcover jackets, but as one element in a design, sometimes hard to recognize in the background.
But everyone knows Sammy’s a girl’s name, right?