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.


296V: Family moves to country home

This book was from my elementary school library, read around 1967. The book was older, 1950s or 1940s. A family that was either down on their luck, or through an inheritance, move to a house in the country that came with African-American servants. This might have been in the South and it seems as though there was an adjustment. I recall food scenes, such as how much the family enjoyed the fresh baked biscuits. This might have been their first encounter with them. In another scene, the mother twists her ankle while walking through the garden and sits alone until she was found because she was in too much pain to walk. What struck me was that this was the first book I read that was told from both an adult and a child’s viewpoint. There was a mystery involved too but I don’t recall whether the house was haunted.

296Q: Tiny Boys Cross the Lawn

In the early sixties I read a green cloth hardback of two boys who drink something in their dad’s basement lab. As they head out to play they suddenly become tiny.  Trying to cross the yard they train a dragonfly with blinders to carry them. Written for maybe fourth grade.

(Surely inspired ‘shrunk the kids’, tho can’t confirm.)

296G: Gypsy lady animal healer cottage forest


Children’s Book: for ages 6-12

Beautifully illustrated with heaps of flowers and animals Cloth cover, possibly purple or brown in colour.

1cm thick

Roughly 25cm by 18cm

Written Before 1994

Story is about an old lady who lives in the middle of a forest in a cottage, she is like a gypsy who heals the animals with different herbs and concoctions.

2 children visit her to find out she is not as crazy as the village people say she is.

The pictures show her in front of her cottage.

In front of a fire healing the animals.

Putting a herbal Pulse on an animal

296E: Littlest Joe

About a mutt dog, a many-paged book and the longest I’d read at age 11 in 1957, who goes through many awful experiences through his lifetime and dies at the end. I think the dog was part pit bull and maybe bulldog, definitely a short, squatty and solid guy. I had checked it out as many times as possible, then finished it all through the night so I could drop it off at the library the next day. Intending to reread it, I found that it had been withdrawn for repairs and never returned to the shelves.

296C: An English village and an American cousin

Sometime around 1956 when I was in the Millville School District 2nd or 3rd grade, maybe the 4th we had a hard-bound reading book with a dark blue cover that was page by page beautifully, color illustrated with 1930s era style artwork not unlike the covers of Jacqueline Winspear books.

The story lines, at least one, involved an English boy about 3rd or 4th grade age living in an English village and his having an American cousin, similar aged, visiting and he showing him around his village.

I do not recollect a title nor publisher, but have been searching for such a book for the last three or so decades. That book and old geography books still in use in our school, circa 1926, contributed to my Anglophilia.

296B: A secret note or message or clue

I have no idea what the title is but the book would appeal to a 8-10 year old girl. It was in my grade school library. I remember that the girl was orphaned or sent to live with a relative, possibly a grandmother or aunt. I’m leaning toward aunt. The place is mysterious and there is a mystery of sorts. The key part I remember is the young girl protagonist finds a secret note or message or clue on paper under a loose brick, I believe around the pool or on the patio, but I’m 99% sure it was around the pool. This would have been around 1978-80, although the book may have been slightly older.

295Y: Young Reader Adventure with Plane Crashes, Loch Ness, and Balloon Races (Solved)

This book was read in middle school. It featured four stories with the same gang of young boys. One story was of them faking a Loch Ness Monster using radio-controlled boat in their lake. Another was their search for a crashed airplane using radio direction finding. A third was their competing in a hot-air balloon race. The fourth I do not remember. This was probably published in the 80’s or late 70’s.

295X: ‘Through the chamber door’ or something about a conch (Solved)

I am looking for a children’s chapter book that I read in the mid to late 80s about a brother and sister who become trapped in the center of a conch shell and have to solve riddles in order to open up each chamber of the conch to work their way back out to freedom. I can’t remember the author or title. The title might have included words like ‘through the chamber door’ or something about a conch, not sure.

295S: The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

I’m looking for a children’s or YA novel about St. Cuthbert, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, some children, and possibly a selkie (mythological creature). The story, as I remember, was somewhat mystical and had to do with St. Cuthbert. I would have read it in the late1960s— it’s not The Wind Eye by Robert Westell (1977), which was published too late to have been the book I read. I remember the cover being illustrated in shades of gray and white. It may have shown some birds flying around the island, which has a distinctively shaped profile.