297N: Billy and the Spinach Fairy

I’m looking for a very old book called Billy and the Spinach Fairy. It is a story that appears in a few places, but I’m specifically looking for the illustrated stand-alone book.

Billy and the Spinach Fairy is a book from the early 1930s or earlier. The latest it would be published would be 1936, but I suspect it is older than that.

I found one unillustrated copy of the story in “A Story for Every Day: 365 Bedtime Stories,” Whitman Publishing Co., Racine, Wisconsin, c 1931: Feb. 4 story, pp. 34-36. (No individual author listed).

A reprint of the story, with slightly different text, appeared on page 67 in the October 31, 1943 edition of the Oakland Tribune. It was on a page of story submissions from children. It was supposed to have original stories, but a child plagiarized the story and submitted it as her own. I have attached a digital copy of the page, a digital close up of the story, and my own retyping of that close-up, which is difficult to read in the digital newspaper copy. I corrected two spelling errors in my retyping, but otherwise it is identical to what appears in the newspaper.

If I could find this book, I would make my 85 year old mother very, very happy. She is an avid reader, and this book is the first book she learned to read when she was a little girl. She and her older sister remember it vividly and have described it to me in great detail, so I know it exists. They both speak of a detailed picture of a fairy living in a quilt on a little boy’s bed. The fairy has a hat with a feather.

I have done an extensive search, including: AbeBooks (my query from 2010 is still posted on their website); I have contacted a rare children’s book dealer in NY; I’ve gone to the reading room of the Jewish Heritage Center in NYC, that has a book called The Story of a Boy Who Did Not Like Spinach┬áby Abraham Hyman Friedland.┬áThat was a Hebrew book and was a different story entirely. I’ve gone to the Princeton University rare children’s book center and looked at Lois Lenski’s book, Spinach Boy, and that’s not it either.

Billy and the Spinach Fairy is out there. Somewhere. In someone’s attic; on a shelf; or in a box. Please help me find this book for my mom before it’s too late.

3 thoughts on “297N: Billy and the Spinach Fairy

  1. Well, here’s a book that has a very similar title to the one you found it in, and an author’s name is given: Kathryn Jackson.

    https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Scarrys-Story-Stories-Rhymes/dp/0307155579/ref=pd_sim_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0307155579&pd_rd_r=KK3P8H35AZ6V9XCKM34J&pd_rd_w=sTRP4&pd_rd_wg=S7P4S&psc=1&refRID=KK3P8H35AZ6V9XCKM34J

    And here’s the same book with a different title that doesn’t give the illustrator top billing, so we know the title has varied.

    https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Book-365-Stories-Story/dp/B0072PJ4HQ/ref=la_B001ILKIIE_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497417477&sr=1-6

    According to Penguin’s website, Kathryn Jackson wrote “hundreds” of stories for Little Golden Books, many coauthored with her husband Byron Jackson. Searching a list of that whole series’s titles, I find nothing about Billy or Spinach.

    But maybe the author is Kathryn Jackson. Best I can do for now — good luck.

    • Thank you for trying! I have that book, but the Billy story is in a much older 365 Bedtime Stories, from 1930 (I have the book). My mom and her sister remember, though, that it also appeared as a stand-alone illustrated book. I’m thinking it was probably a little printed grocery store version, and doesn’t exist any more.

      • Because this seems very important to you, I wonder if you have spent any time browsing local thrift shops? Sure, you’d need a lot of luck, but I used to spend almost every weekend browsing thrift shops for old books. I was never looking for any as rare as you are, but I certainly found many interesting books that don’t seem to exist online. Sometimes I hope I will come across somebody looking for one of these strange, rare books I have, because it would feel so good to get to fulfill something like this!

        So it’s a long shot, but if there’s a good source for used books, you might as well give it a try. I’ll keep an eye out as well!

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