100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Endangered Series #7: Cam Jansen

Popularity comes, popularity goes. As librarians we’re always balancing between what will circulate like crazy and what we need to have in the collection. And we’re not the Library of Congress – we can’t (and shouldn’t) keep everything.

An endangered series is one that appears to be waning in terms of popularity. But popularity isn’t everything. Should it stay, or should it go? Or think of it this way – if you were starting a library today, would this series make the cut? Let’s discuss.

Cam Jansen Gold Coins

Cam Jansen by David Adler, illustrated by Susanna Natti

First appearing in 1980, Cam Jansen has become a staple mystery series for young readers. Spin-off early reader series Young Cam Jansen began in 1996.

The Case for Keeping: Sturdy and straightforward mystery tales, these are reliable reads for those just getting into the genre.

The Case for Not: There are plenty of mystery series out there.

Refresh?: As the series has gone on, updates to covers and a new illustrator have helped keep the series fresh.

Cam 1 New Cam 1 Old

My Verdict: Hanging on, but not for long.

How are you handing this series in your library?


Endangered Series #1: The Boxcar Children

Endangered Series #2: The Hardy Boys

Endangered Series #3: American Girl

Endangered Series #4: The Baby Sitter’s Club

Endangered Series #5: The Bailey School Kids

Endangered Series #6: Cam Jansen

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Oh Cam was one of my favorites as a child! I am always trying to handsell it to no avail. We still have her at my library, but I think her days are coming to an end.

  2. I just gave up on Cam this year.

  3. Young Cam Jansen does better here, and Adler’s Bones books do REALLY well. I have a few Cam Jansen’s on the shelf, but mostly because they’re in an easy readers section that isn’t gigantic, so they’re pretty easy to find.

  4. I think it’s an interesting case studies about how certain genres go in and out of favor. There used to be so many popular mystery series (Nancy Drew, Boxcar children, Cam Jensen, Encyclopedia Brown) I have a hard time book talking mysteries to my students, they just aren’t that interested.