297S: Star-Shaped Key (Solved)

I am looking for a book targeted at, I think, 10-to-12-year-olds, which I suspect was published between 1965 and 1980.  I think the protagonists were a brother and sister who for some reason were spending some months (summer vacation?) in a remote location, which I believe was mountainous.  The permanent inhabitants were faced with a problem that I do not remember but which I believe involved water.  A recurring plot point was that the young boy was taught to play draughts and was challenged to improve–this name for the game may mean that, though I read the book in a U.S. library, it was a British book.  The problem was solved through the use of a key with a star-shaped end which was inserted into a rock face and turned.

As a final detail, I believe the cover of the book was mostly a picture, drawn in blue and white.

297J: A boy in a fully automated house (Solved)

Hello! I have been trying to find a children’s picture book from probably the 1970s or possibly 1960s. It was about a boy who lived in a house that was fully automated. (No parents are in the story, I don’t think. ) A machine would wake him up in the morning, put him in the shower, dry him off, put his clothes on, make him breakfast, sit him down to eat, and send him off to school. It was not a robot, more like he was moved through a conveyor belt of morning routine activities. They boy seemed to sleep through everything. One night, the machine goes on the fritz, and he is sent through the morning activities in the wrong order. The machine is all messed up – he gets his hair washed with breakfast, clothes put on upside-down, etc. Hope you can help!

296W: Sci-Fi Retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey

I read this in the late 1970s. A 12ish year old boy living in a rural area of the US notices small lakes are disappearing in his area. He deduces that aliens are stealing the water to use for fuel and starts watching for their ship, which he boards when he sees it. The ship takes off while he is aboard and the rest of the book is his adventures in trying to return home. There are other abductees from other planets already on board who become his crew. It is a loose re-telling of Homer’s The Odyssey in that the boy travels from planet to planet aboard the ship and encounters people who are recognizably the Lotus-Eaters, the Cyclops, Circe, etc. Because it’s a children’s book, many of the details are toned down. For example, the Cyclops had poor vision and thus needed to wear a thick lens to see, which the adventurers broke to “blind” him. I remember very well there was a full-page painting of the boy in the Cyclops cave, which might have been the cover of the book.

 

296U: Teenage model (Solved)

I read this book, from my high school library, around 1972. It was contemporary at that time. The main character was a pretty, poised girl who gets a job as a fashion model. This scene might have occurred during the hiring process, which took place at a restaurant. She gets the impression that one of the men is flirting with her, so she asks if he has children. When he says yes, she asks to see pictures of them, which distracts him from the flirting so she feels as though she has rejected him without offending him. The girl has a nerdy younger brother and this scene only stays in my mind because a friend who also read it asked me “what are the runs” when she gets to this part. The main character stays home with her younger brother when he has the runs. Although they typically quarrel like siblings do, she feels bad for him this day and is kind.

296T: Foreign college students

I found this in a public library around 1971 and it was a contemporary book. I think it was set in a small New England or Eastern college town. The main character is a student there and becomes friends with students from the Middle East. In one scene she accompanies her friends as they look for apartments to rent and sees the discrimination they face. She falls in love with one of the students, who gives her a gold ring with a sapphire stone. She wears the ring on a gold chain around her neck. The book ends as he breaks her heart by telling her he plans to marry a girl in a marriage arranged by his and the girl’s family. She doesn’t understand why he would marry someone he doesn’t love and he can’t explain to her why he feels he must.

296S: Buttermilk skies

This book was most likely written in the early to mid 1960s. I found it in my junior high school library around 1970.

It might have been written first person.The main character was girl about 15 and I recall three distinct scenes.In one she stands looking out her back door at dusk or night and sees what she describes as “buttermilk skies.” She might say it came from the Hoagy Carmichael song. In another scene she stares at herself in the mirror before going out and thinks “When last seen she was wearing ….” like newscasters do in describing a missing person. The last I recall is that she crossed herself, even though she was not Catholic.

296N: Cristobel and a tinkling Christmas Tree Fairy

Hi. I am trying to remember and locate a book that I loved as a child – possibly published between 1956 and 1961, in which the centrepiece was a Christmas Tree with a fairy that every now and then tinkled. In any memory the tree stood on the landing at the top of the stairs in the house.  It may have involved a girl called Cristobel /Christobel/Christobal.

Was it the same or another book in which there was a character, a girl, called Aurora. In this book there seemed to be a grove or woods.

Both were well-written and may have been Australian prize-winners from the Children’s Book Council or similar. However they do not seem to me to have been particularly Australian in flavour. Possibly English.

296M: A machine called a “Spindizzy”

1960’s/70s cheap science fiction. It involved a colony that had female creatures who had evolved pink skin, and tails. Several of these creatures were featured in what appeared to be a painting on the cover of the mass market paperback I had. The main male character was sent by his company to check up on/audit the colony in some way. The female creatures were a second class of citizens who had small tattoos who indicated the type of work they did at the colony. The main male character falls in love with one of the female creatures and they attempt to escape the colony. Their attempt to escape involved a machine called a “spindizzy”.