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!
GUNPOWDER TOWER by Hans P. Schaad ; translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford .
Many, many thanks, MamaSquirrel!! I have been trying to locate this book for years but could not remember the title. To be honest, neither the title nor the cover nor anything about a gunpowder tower rings a bell at all. But the story description seems spot-on! I even thought I recalled it being the town’s 1,000th anniversary, but that just didn’t seem likely to me so I figured I was misremembering that part. I’ve gone ahead and ordered the least expensive copy I could find and greatly look forward to reading it again!