The Secret of Tate’s Beach – Vintage Kidlit Summer Week #2

by | Jun 9, 2023 | Books, Reading, Vintage Kidlit Summer | 9 comments

My friend Faith Elizabeth Hough (who blogs HERE) and I decided to create a fun reading challenge called Vintage Kidlit Summer. If you missed any of the details on how this challenge works, just go here and you can catch up! Basically, we’re doing 12 categories over 12 weeks, and each week has its own theme. All you have to do is choose a vintage/classic book that fits that week’s theme, read it, and share about it! You can write about it on your blog, or you can post your thoughts on Instagram (or Twitter) as well, by using the hashtag #vintagekidlitsummer. And if you’re in need of recommendations for each week’s theme, check out this blog post!

Our second week’s theme was Moody and Mysterious, and for this theme I chose to read The Secret of Tate’s Beach (1926) by Augusta Huiell Seaman. I’ve read several Seaman books and loved each one. Her stories are very mysterious, engaging, and often feature immersive settings, and this novel was no different.

The book’s opening will give you an idea of what the story is like:

A long, level line of surf fretting the coast as far as the eye could see. Back of the beach the dunes, shaggy, irregular, odorous of glossy bay and rank seagrass. Nestling behind one of the highest dunes, sheltered from the east winds, one low, rambling two-storied house … 

While the pleasure of last week’s selection (Thimble Summer) was all about the small realistic details, this book is all about the joys of things that probably would never happen! The story follows two girls, Merwin and Peggy, on a quest to unravel an old mystery concerning multiple shipwrecks, an unusual diary, and (could it be?) hidden treasure.

If I say any more about the plot, I might be giving spoilers. 😉

I’ve often heard the advice that if you’re writing for children, you should let the kids of the story take center stage and not allow adult characters to solve their problems for them and take over the plot. I always thought this advice was interesting because I have rarely ever seen that happen in a book. But it happens in this one! I was surprised and amused by the fact that halfway through the book, Merwin’s father essentially takes over the solving of the mystery and discovers everything before the girls do. It’s a bit disappointing when you’re used to following the child characters and then it switches, but it was still a very entertaining ending.

I realize that one of the reasons I couldn’t put this book down is because the reader’s attention is never strayed from the mystery. There are no subplots to follow between the action, and the characters never forget about the mystery in order to do something else. While this approach may not be as realistic, it’s definitely more compelling!

What did you read for the Vintage Kidlit Summer this week?


  1. Molly

    I’m reading ‘Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens’.

  2. Julie Aamoth

    Thanks for the review.

    I just finished “Alice in Wonderland,” which I had not read for many, many years. I don’t know if it has the darkness that I think of when I encounter the word “moody,” but the characters were so quixotic and unpredictable that I thought I’d stretch the definition a bit. Reading the book as a child, I truly felt as though I’d stepped totally out of the real world, much as Alice may have felt. Her problems with growing and shrinking, the characters who didn’t behave logically, and the extreme silliness were a bit mysterious, and exciting at the same time, and Alice was, in my view, quite the heroine to navigate it all. As an adult, I found myself smiling most over the absurd behavior of the characters in Wonderland, recognizing that Lewis took the every day quirks in adults and societal/institutional norms and carried them to their logical extremes. The word play and the rhymes and the lovable if kooky characters are even more fun today. I’m kicking myself for having given away my official annotated version, and am thinking of buying another…

    • Anna Rose Johnson

      Oh, that’s fun! It’s great to revisit books you haven’t read in a while. I still have never read Alice in Wonderland!

  3. Marion

    I have read A Samantha Mystery “Clue In The Castle Tower”. Vacationing in England Samantha and Nellie are with their grandparents. The Admiral meets a child hood friend who invites them to his Manor House and Lockston Castle that is next to the house. Sir Charles is guardian to his twin nephews Henry and Ian. The boys told the girls that the ghost of Sir Reginald as been seen in the castle and house. The children decide to hide in the Library where rare books have been sold and replaced with regular editions. While in the Library the”ghost” of Sir Reginald makes an appearance,. When the lights are turned on the ghost was Molly the servant. She had a white coat and crawled into the library at night to read the books. She said she did not steal the books. Lady Stallworth The late wife of Sir Charles had written a letter. The four children searched the desk and finally a secret draw was discovered. In the draw was the letter. It said that she had sold the books to pay for repairs to the Manor and the Castle. She wanted to leave money for Sir Charles to have a family life with the boys when she was gone.

    • Marion

      The Author is Sarah Masters Buckey

  4. Marilyn

    I read a Felicity Mystery “Lady Margaret’s Ghost” by Elizabeth McDavid Jones. Felicity Merriman is is taking care of the house while her mother and the younger children are away visiting an elderly aunt. Felicity will cook the meals for her father and his indentured slave,Ben. A package arrived for Mr. Merriman’s inheritance from his late cousin Sir Edward. Among the prized possessions there was a beautiful silver comb and brush, a baby’s silver rattle. Mr. Merriman explained that Margaret and Sir Edward never had a baby. Margaret died unhappy. The belief was that her ghost roamed because she was unhappy for never giving Sir Edward a child. Felicity was entering her horse Penny in the big race at the fair. Ben will ride the horse. They meet Damon who is riding a Roan horse. Later Felicity meets a girl Anne who is working for Mr. Yarrow. During the race Felicity realized something is wrong with Penny. Ben and Felicity discover there are spurs under Penny’s saddle. Damon knows what to do to ease Penney’s discomfort. He applies a salve to heal the cuts. The next day Felicity feels someone is following her home. At night she hears someone walking around the house. Later she tell her best friend Elizabeth the comb and brush set along with the baby rattle are missing. Felicity has also lost her necklace. She finds the necklace outside. Elizabeth and Felicity look for the missing things along with the house keys. It is discovered that Anne has been the one roaming the house not Lady Margaret;s ghost. Anne admitted that she stole the articles for Mr and Mrs. Yarrow. They threatened to beat her if she did not steal for them. Anne felt guilty and brought the articles back. Mr. Merriman is helping Anne to become an apprentice with Mrs. Whitehurst and to live with another couple. Felicity is happy to hear that the housekeeper]Mrs. Hewiit’ hired to help her is recovering from a stroke. Damon decides to join a ship sailing to Europe. Felicity feels Lady Margaret is at peace since the articles will be staying with the Merrimans.


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