Category Archives: Solved

369D: The Secret Passage, Straight to the Bakery (Solved!)

I’m not even sure why this particular picture book continues to stick with me. Was it the thrill of exploring a secret passage that sparked my love of exploration? Was it my first surprise ending? Was it my love of bakeries? I’m really not sure, but I’d love to find a copy. I borrowed this book from the children’s section of the Elmhurst branch of the Queens (NY) Public Library many times from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s. There were either one or two children–boys I think–who were exploring a secret passageway they had found in an old mansion or castle. I think he or they had just moved there but my memory is unclear. One of the illustrations I remember best showed an interior view slice of the whole house, including the secret passageway winding its way through the multi-leveled dwelling, with the two boys visible with their flashlight somewhere on a lower level. The boys follow the passageway a long way underground to a door. The door opens out into a bakery in the town or village.  There’s another illustration of a surprised baker at his oven as the small door opens out from mid-wall and the equally surprised boys tumble into his bakery. For some reason I think the baker is French, but again details remain elusive. At the end the baker serves them cream puffs or eclairs. Another post I saw (on another book search site) seemed to be a  query about this same book and mentions the boys perhaps finding some old casks of wine (?) that had been missing for some time. I also think the town was celebrating some kind of anniversary and the townspeople hoped to celebrate with the casks of wine. It’s also possible I am confusing two books. If anyone can help, I’d really appreciate it! 

368Y: Mouse in Old Lady’s House (Solved!)

Looking for a children’s book I read in the early 2000s. Hardcover story book with illustrations, possibly in watercolor. The book was tan with a dark brown spine, the lettering was gold. The story is about an old lady living her peaceful life, drinking her coffee/tea, eating a slice of spice?/chocolate? cake, and reading her book every night. One night she finds a mouse in her house, who I think ate her cake and chewed her book, which sends her to bed stressed. The next day, she buys a cat to get rid of the mouse, but the cat ends up being too lazy and sleeps all day. Then she gets a dog, but the dog just runs around and makes a mess. Then she gets an owl to hunt the mouse, but it keeps her up all night flying around. Then a snake, and so on. She keeps buying animals to solve the mouse problem until her house is in chaos, but the mouse is still there. The story ends with her getting rid of all the animals and eventually making friends with the mouse and serving it it’s own tiny cup of tea and it’s own tiny slice of cake every night with her and they live happily ever after. I have Googled things like “children’s book old lady mouse in house” and variation of that for hours with no luck. Send help!

268V: Early 70s B&W Photos Perforated Pages (Solved!)

I have searched for years for a book I once owned; I cannot remember the title, but the physicality of the book remains vivid.  It was paper-bound, roughly 8″ square, and I think there was a good deal of yellow in the cover design.  Most of the book consisted of perforated pages, with four 4″-square black-and-white photos per page, meant to be torn out and used as focal objects for meditation (or perhaps divination, in the manner of tarot cards).  The photo pages were printed on heavy card stock and had photos on each side.  The images were varied: people, landscapes, buildings, etc., all inviting contemplative regard.  There were also pages of text in the front of the book describing ways of using the photo cards.  My other lasting memory is that the book was the same size as Ram Dass’s Be Here Now (published 1971), so that, once all the photos had been torn out, the Ram Dass book could more or less fit into the space left behind.  Since this book does not neatly fit any standard category, I’ve never been able to track it down.  Many thanks to anyone who might share this memory with me and know the title.

368C: Service Boys dirt track car racing series (Solved!)

– Fiction – Vintage series – 1970s or earlier – about dirt track racing written for kids. It was checked located in the children’s section of the library. Trying to find these books as a gift for a friend who remembers them very fondly, but doesn’t remember details, just that it was a series and of course, that it was about dirt track car racing.

368B: Birthday Party Disappearing Children Cutlery (Solved!)

A little girl goes to stay with her eccentric aunt who spends most of her time gardening. The aunt is constantly digging up dishes, plates, and other items from her yard, and always holds on to those items. One day the little girl is in the library of her aunt’s house and discovers a book about a little girl who was at a birthday party that was cursed by a (fairy?) so that all of the children disappeared and the cutlery was buried in the yard. To undo the curse, the story girl would have to place all of the cutlery back just as it was when the curse was placed. The story girl would also be unable to communicate what happened to anyone else until the curse was listed. Thinking that her aunt might be the girl from the story, the little girl helps her aunt to dig up the last of the cutlery/dishware. Together they place the dishes/cutlery on the table as directed by the aunt. However, nothing happens after they do this, and the book ends.

367H: Dragon of the Mountain (Solved!)

I came across a website called “what to do when you can’t remember the title of a long lost children’s book” and I used their guide to scrape the inside of my skull for details to give your group-mind.

Now, I’m only assuming the title of the book is “Dragon of the Mountain,” but I could be mistaken. That’s just… what the book was about, and since nothing comes up on Google or Amazon, I’m probably mistaken. Maybe it was Tears of the Dragon, or who knows, uh, Dragon Mountain and How the River Came To Be or…. take a guess and yours is as good as mine, honestly. So, here are my scrapings:

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STORY–Write down what you do know about the story.
It’s about an Asian (Chinese? Japanese? I don’t know where, just somewhere in Asia…) folk tale of a village that lives in fear of the Dragon of the Mountain, except for one little boy who goes up to visit the dragon, because he thinks the dragon must be very lonely, and then the dragon starts to weep with joy, and floods the land, and the boy is going to drown, but the dragon takes him on his back and they float down the river of tears together, and the dragon turns into a boat, and sacrifices himself to save the boy.

Do you remember character names or where the story took place?
The title character is the dragon, and it takes place somewhere in pre-industrial Asia. Can’t be more specific than that.

Were there anthropomorphized animals in the story?
Only the dragon, insomuch as he was able to speak and reason. He was still fully a dragon, of course.

Do you think the person reading the story to you may have “improvised” a bit?
No one read the story to me, but given that it is a folk-tale, I would assume the author probably did.

ILLUSTRATIONS–What do you remember about the illustrations?
Were they colorful or monotone?
Very colorful illustrations!

Very detailed or line drawings?
I have the impression in my mind that they were watercolors, but that might just be because of the subject matter, with all the tears and the flooding and the boat and it being an Asian story.

Did they fill the page or just accompany the text?
Just like a Dr. Seuss book.

Do they remind you of any specific illustrator or artist’s style?
Uh, watercolors. They were beautiful watercolors, at least in my mind’s eye they are.

BOOK FEATURES–Physical features are important, too: was the book you read hardback or paperback?
It was hardback.

Was it a picture book or chapter book?
It was a picture book.

What color were the covers?
My memory is extremely vague on this, but I remember a predominantly maroon-ish feeling. I honestly never paid much attention to the cover, I was interested in the inside, not the outside.

Was there a dust jacket?
I don’t remember one, but I don’t have dust jackets from any of my books from back then.

How big was the book?
Similar to a standard Little Golden Book or Dr. Seuss Book.

Were the pages glossy or matte?
I believe they were glossy.
   

MEMORIES–Personal information is also helpful. How old were you when you remember reading the book and what year was it?
I’m pretty sure I had it at least by the age of eight, which would be 1979.

Were you able to read it yourself or did you need someone to read it to you?
I read it entirely on my own.

Do you think it was a book bought for you at the time or was it a hand-me-down from an older sibling or a parent?
I believe it was bought for me, though I could be mistaken.

Was it borrowed from a public library for you to read?
No, I owned it.

Did you read it in school or at home?
It was my own book, I read it at home.
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I just would love, as all your customers would, to be reunited with my old friend.