The Mandie books are a children's historical mystery series written by Lois Gladys Leppard, intended for children aged 8 to 12. Since the publication of the first book in 1983, more than seven million copies have been printed of the Mandie series. There are forty novels in the main series and eight in the junior series, along with several special books. The setting of the series is North Carolina in the early 20th century. The story starts around the year 1900, when Mandie is 11 years old. In every book she finds a mystery to solve with her good friends Joe Woodard and Celia Hamilton.
The main character's full name is Amanda Elizabeth Shaw. Her birth date is given as June 6, 1888. She grew up in a log cabin in Swain County, North Carolina, with her beloved father Jim Shaw, her stepmother Etta, and her stepsister Irene. Mandie knew nothing about her family background until her father died. Mandie was soon sent away to live with the Brysons to take care of their new baby son named Andrew. Then her father's Cherokee best friend Ned Sweetwater came to take her away from her overbearing stepmother and the family who treated her cruelly. Mandie, Uncle Ned, and several Cherokee warriors escorted Mandie to the home of her rich uncle John Shaw, who Mandie had never heard about before.
Mandie is soon reunited with her birth mother, Elizabeth, in Macon County, North Carolina, in a town called Franklin, North Carolina, and learns the truth about her history. Mandie's paternal grandmother was Cherokee. Mandie meets many new friends among the Cherokee people. On one occasion she finds a cave with gold that belonged to a Cherokee warrior, Tsali. In 1901, Mandie goes to a girl's boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina. The school is strict, but Mandie does not care about bending the rules when there is a mystery to solve.
In the last published novel, New Horizons (2006), Mandie and her friends attend college at College of Charleston Ladies' College in Charleston, South Carolina, where Mandie majors in business administration while Celia majors in music, and both minor in English literature and visual art. New Horizons is called "Book One" of the Mandie: Her College Days series, but was the only one to be published before the author's death.
The Mandie books are Christian in theme. Mandie prays when troubled, and attempts to demonstrate Christian virtues of tolerance and compassion. Mandie is proud to be part Cherokee, and she has a diverse group of friends, including a girl with mental retardation. Some critics have noted that the Cherokee and African American characters are at times depicted sentimentally and as speaking in a stereotypical dialect (for instance, Uncle Ned's speech is filled with terms like "happy hunting grounds", "squaw", and "papoose").
Author Lois Gladys Leppard was a Federal Civil Service employee in various countries around the world. She made her home in South Carolina. Leppard died October 5, 2008. Stories of her own mother's childhood are the basis for many of the incidents incorporated in this series.
Young Mandie series
Set before the Mandie series, starting in 1898 when Mandie is 9.
- Who's Mandie? (1999)
- The New Girl (1999)
- The Mystery at Miss Abigail's (1999)
- Merry Christmas from Mandie (2000)
- The Talking Snowman (2001)
- The Secret in the Woods (2001)
- The Missing Book (2002)
- The Haunted Shop (2002)
- New Horizons (2006)
Special Mandie books
- Mandie's Cookbook (1991)
- Mandie and Joe's Christmas Surprise (1995)
- Mandie: My Datebook (1997)
- Mandie: My Diary (1997)
- Mandie and Mollie & the Angel's Visit (1998)
- Mandie and the Secret Tunnel (2009) with Lexi Johnson as Mandie Shaw
- Mandie and the Cherokee Treasure (2010) with Lexi Johnson as Mandie Shaw
- Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas (2011) with Kelly Washington as Mandie Shaw
- Amanda Elizabeth Shaw - Referred to as Mandie by her peers, Mandie enjoys solving mysteries regardless of how mysterious or dangerous they may be. She is said to have long blond hair (usually braid), blue eyes, and is said to be short by her friend Joe, and it is mentioned that she is short for her age. She is a devout Christian, and often expresses a desire to be an adult throughout the series. During the series she attends a young ladies school and she suffers the loss of her biological father, among other adventures.
- Joseph Woodard - Known as Joe by almost everyone, he is Mandie's best friend. He is said to have unruly brown hair, brown eyes and, according to Mandie, long legs (he is portrayed as being quite tall). Throughout the series Joe and Mandie solve many mysteries together. Joe's father is the local Doctor, and Joe has ambitions to become an attorney at law.
- Faith Winters - She is Mandie's best friend in The Young Mandie series.
- Celia Hamilton - Celia becomes Mandie's best friend throughout the Mandie series.
- Snowball - Mandie's White cat who she's fond of. He follows Mandie everywhere.
- Dimar Walkingstick - Mandie's Native American friend who is shown to have a crush on Mandie.
- Phineas Prattworthy - A man that Mandie, Celia, and Joe meet in The Mysterious Bells. He was hiding in the Church, and ringing the bell for help. Mandie soon finds that he knew her grandmother, and Joe's father.
- Tsa'ni Pindar Mandie's Troublesome Cherokee cousin.
- Rev. Riley O'Neal - A Man who Mandie meets in Mandie and the Midnight Journey. He shows some affection for her in later books.
- Sallie Sweetwater - Another one of Mandie's Indian friends. Sallie is Uncle Ned's granddaughter.
- Etta McHan Shaw Hughes - Mandie's over bearing step mother.
- Irene McHan - Mandie's bratty 13-year-old Scottish American stepsister.
- Zachary Hughes - Etta's new husband and Irene's new step father.
- Elizabeth Taft Shaw - Mandie's biological mother.
- James Alexander Shaw - Mandie's father. Jim dies before the beginning of the first book.
- John Shaw - Jim's older brother and Mandie's uncle and stepfather. He married Elizabeth after Jim died.
- Ned Sweetwater - Jim's best friend. Ned is a Cherokee Native American. He promised to keep Mandie safe and helps get her out of trouble. Ned is Mandie's honorary uncle.
- Windy - Mandie's Orange tabby in the "Young Mandie" series. Mandie is allowed to keep Windy after she does the right thing and returns Windy's mom to her rightful owners.
- Samuel Hezekiah Shaw - Mandie's little brother, named after Samuel Hezekiah Plumbley, a close friend of John and Jim's older sister Ruby, who died when she was 10 years old.
- Mary Elizabeth Taft - Mandie's rich grandmother, who separated her parents, and seems to have changed drastically from a fussy old lady to a kind, thoughtful grandmother from the first book to the rest of the series.
- Senator Morton - Mandie's grandmother's close friend. He is a senator from Florida.
- Tommy Patton - Mandie's friend who attends Mr. Chadwick's School for boys in Asheville. He lives in Charleston.
- Jonathan Lindall Guyer III - Mandie and Celia's friend, whom they meet when he runs away from home and stows away on the boat taking them to Europe. He ends up touring Europe with them.
- Polly Cornwallis - Mandie's next door neighbor, and the first friend she makes after arriving at her Uncle John's house. She helps Mandie solve the mystery of the secret tunnel.
- Miss Heathwood - Miss Heathwood is Mandie and Celia's teacher at the Misses Heathwood's School
- Robert Rogers - Celia's ever constant social partner when the Misses Heathwood's School and Mr. Chadwick's School get together.
- "I cannot go to the College of Charleston without you, Celia,"
- Roberta Teague Herrin and Sheila Quinn Oliver, Appalachian Children's Literature: An Annotated Bibliography, McFarland and Company, 2009, pages 158–161