Category Archives: MG (grades 2-6)

375C: Girls hide and take care of abused horse

It was a children’s fiction novel I read in the early to mid 1990s. The story was about a horse that had escaped from its owners, who I think were neglecting it. The escaped horse was found by two young girls who were friends, both of whom want to help the horse when they realise he’s hungry and in poor condition. Knowing that if they return the horse to the rightful owners that he’ll probably just continue to be neglected, the girls decide to care for him in secret rather than return him to the abusive owners. There’s an abandoned, overgrown stable at the back of a nearby property that is owned by a mysterious recluse who lives in the property’s main house, so the girls have to be very careful to not get caught trespassing by the landowner. The girls have to clear a tall enough path through the undergrowth and remove the poison ivy so they can move the horse into the old stable, which they do their best to clean and repair. They share the responsibility of caring for the horse, taking odd jobs around their neighbourhood to earn extra cash and they pool their pocket money to purchase the feed and supplies they need from the hardware store. Much of the story revolves around the girls working to feed the horse up to improve his physical condition and health, but it is also stressful and difficult for the young girls to constantly manage the demanding routine by themselves and still keep it secret from everyone, which creates some tension in their friendship. Eventually they get found out by the landowner, and the girls are terrified he will call the police and that they’ll be in big trouble for stabling the horse on his property without his permission. But when they finally speak to the man who owns the old stable they are surprised to find that he is actually a kind man and not scary like the schoolyard rumours said. He explains to them that he let the stable go to seed after his horse-loving daughter died, as it was just too painful for him to look at it and constantly be reminded of her. The young girls explain their side of the story to him and the man is touched by their passion and empathy for the neglected horse. To his surprise they remind him of his daughter, but not in the painful way he used to experience in years gone past. Instead he feels quite touched by their efforts to care for the horse and he realises that he also wants to see the horse properly looked after because his daughter would have wanted the same thing. He gives the girls permission to keep stabling the horse on his property, and I think he even promises to help repair stable and maybe even assist with some of expenses associated with keeping the horse. But the condition he gives them is that they have to come clean to their parents about what they’ve been doing. By the end of the book the girls are very happy to be caring for the horse openly with the permission of the owner and their parents, but they kind of miss the excitement of keeping such a huge and exciting secret from everyone.

375B: Impoverished Girl Knits Sweater

In fourth grade, in 1970, our teacher read us a chapter book about a girl in a concentration or refugee camp or impoverished village.   I remember descriptions of the harsh conditions and an episode where she knit a sweater for a woman in exchange for a cow. The sweater didn’t fit because the woman gained weight from drinking the milk and the girl had to redo the sweater.
Would love to know this book!

354S: Tripping Across the Desert (Solved!)

I don’t have much to go on. It was a book I got from the library in the mid-1990s. It was a children’s book. It was fantasy. My mom didn’t care for it because it was too “weird.” It had a girl who I think was crossing a desert for some reason. I know she came to the edge of the desert and it was a cliff or drop-off, and I think she floated down (or up?) somehow. She might have been on a cloud or holding an umbrella? Honestly, it so frustrating because I remember loving it but can’t remember hardly any of the plot. I just know it was very trippy, like Alice in Wonderland level odd things. Like the person who wrote it was hallucinating. Lol. Thanks for any help you can give! 

374F: 2 in 1 Tween murder mysteries

The most prominent feature was this was a series of very short kids books where you had to flip the book upside down and backwards to read the answer to the mystery. Only like 5 pages per mystery I think. I think it was also two mysteries per book. One of the stories involved an investigator that had to investigate a death and the butler let him in to the study. The guy was dead at his desk with a bottle of cyanide firmly clasped in his hand. It was determined to be a murder because cyanide causes muscles to relax and the bottle could not be clutched tightly in his hand. It was staged to look like a suicide.

374E: Puritan Fog Friend

I read in grade school (early 70s), but I can’t remember the name of it.
Little girl had just moved to house on outskirts of small town New England coast of US. She likes to play in fog. One day meets another little girl. She speaks oddly, old-fashioned. Is dressed old too. But they have good time berry picking. Go to strange girl’s house. Also very old fashioned, more like a cabin. But girl thinks kinda cool. 
The odd girl’s mom fixes a couple of berry pies. Wraps one up for her to take to her mom. When she gets home, fog is lifting and pie is gone. The two girls meet often, always in fog. They become fast friends. 
Finally mom wants to meet this family. Daughter takes her to spot she KNOWS the village is standing. Nothing there. Just bright sunshine on the empty field. Few blocks away is a replica of a Puritan village but isn’t the same. She keeps saying things were in the wrong place. Never saw little girl again, foggy or not. 

Wish I could remember the name but was in like 4th maybe 5th grade at the most.”

373T: Zen Koans for Young Adults

This was a book I purchased for my elementary school library in the mid 90’s through early 2000’s.  I think it was published in 94 or 95.  It was a slender black hardcover book with white lettering (I think) about 21.6 cm x 16.5 cm.  I don’t remember a cover image but if there was one it was a simple line drawing.

I think one or more of the keywords Japan, Japanese, stories, koans, or zen were in the title or prologue.  It had brief stories (one page or less).

Here are two I remember:
*The master pours tea in a student’s cup, but the cup is full so what the master poured spills over the sides.
*The master and student are walking down a muddy road.  They encounter a woman standing before a muddy muddle.  The master carries the woman to the other side of the puddle, puts her down, and he and the student trudged on.  After many minutes the student blurts (something like) “Master why did you carry that woman?  You know (avoiding women?) is part of our practice. The master replied that he carried the woman but a few steps but the student was still carrying her.
I’ve scrolled through what seems like millions of hits for Zen and koans with no luck. It was written for young people (5th-adult?) according to my search tools.  It was not in a picture book format like the Muth books. And it pre-dates them by many years.

373K: Supernatural spinning top

I am trying to locate a favorite childhood book, probably published sometime in the mid sixties. I do not recall the title of the book, but it is in the “supernatural” category, geared for pre-teen or early teenage years. The main character is called Dorcas and she has a spinning top that allows her to access her supernatural power. I believe she is an orphan. There is also a young man that is her advocate. She acquires damaging information through her “gift” that implicates stalwart pillars of the community; they come after her as the book comes to a climax, with her being trapped in a cave by one of these perpetrators. She is rescued at the end of the book by her young protagonist who, at one point, had given her a red scarf. I always thought this book was called “The Spinning Top”, but any and all efforts to locate it by that title have been completely futile! I have been searching for this book for nearly 50 years and hope that, with your help, it can be found.

373F: Horse and Sugar Bowl

I am so thrilled to hear of your service!!   For the last day of school of my second grade, the teacher let us read books from the small classroom library. This was in 1962.  (Yes, I’ve been hunting for this book for over sixty years.). After lunch she made us pass up the books. She would not let me finish it. I watched as she packed all the books in cardboard boxes. The box with my book was likely shipped to the school district warehouse since it was so old.  And it wasn’t on the shelves when I snuck into the second grade classroom the beginning of my third grade.
What I remember, which is hardly anything, is that it was a larger format cloth cover.  The corners were worn and soft. (Maybe ten x fifteen? It was a thin book, perhaps green.) It looked “old fashioned” and I would guess it was published in the 1940’s.  The images were a type of collage with cut outs of real objects (like the sugar bowl) and a drawing of a horse cut and posed.  Then the scene was photographed in color.  That’s it :   a horse romping on a kitchen table and a sugar bowl.
It vaguely had the feel of a “Gumby” cartoon.   Hmmm….I never thought to hunt down the creater of Gumby.
I realize this is a long shot, but it would enable me to strike off one of the few items on my bucket list.

372P: Petey and Friends

As a child I would periodically visit my grandparents, in the mid 1960’s. They had a children’s book at their house that I still remember (as does my cousin). If I could find the name, I’d love to get us each a copy for the holidays. 

Children’s chapter book, green cover, we think, but aren’t 100% on that.

Published definitely prior to 1970, more likely in the 1950’s.   The story line was pretty didactic, and that would fit the era. Also, while folks had cars, the vegetable man had a cart.

Generally simple plot: family with several kids move to a new location. The youngest child is named Petey, and he is the main character.  Each chapter basically follows one event in Petey’s life. Chapters I can remember:

** Petey makes friends with the vegetable man who comes into town to sell his veggies. Petey and family are invited to go out into the country to visit the veggie man’s family.  There was some cross-cultural awareness, but I can’t remember what. 

**Christmas is approaching and all the townspeople ask Petey what he wants for Christmas. “Oh, just one of those little cars” (referring to Matchbox cars). Everyone is astounded he wants so little. In the end, everyone in town gets him a little car.

** Bad snowstorm keeps Petey and his siblings indoors. After complaint about nothing to do they all sit and start to create a quilt from leftover fabric. They work all day and succeed in creating quilt.

It wasn’t great literature, but it has sentimental value for us. ☺️

Thank you for any help you can provide! I have been searching for this book for over a decade!