357F: Wizard vs. Seriously Overgrown Plant

I’m looking for a short story that was published in a compilation of sci-fi stories, probably somewhere between 1995-2005. Sci-fi short story was about wizard and a plant that was taking over the earth. The wizard was trying to kill the plant to save the world, but no matter what he tried, he couldn’t do anything about the plant and it ended up taking over the world. Wizard also had a globe or orb that was an exact replica of the earth. The orb displayed live and the wizard could zoom in and see anything and anyone and what they were doing. The only thing that didn’t show up on the globe was the globe.

355R: Sloth Smuggled Into Apartment Given Bath (Solved!)

The book I’m looking for was one I read when I was about 10-12, in the late 1970s. It was about a girl who somehow ended up smuggling a sloth into her home (apartment in a city, I think?). The only scene I specifically remember is her giving it a bath and how filthy the tub was at the end of the process. It wasn’t a children’s picture book, that much I do know. And it’s possible it was a short story but I swear I remember it being a chapter book.
I hope you can help, as this has been driving me nuts for years!

347I: A book named Toby? (Solved!)

I remember the cover was white with a monochromatic pencil-style drawing of a rundown old house with a bit of grass/ground in the foreground.
A lonely, rejected boy named Toby is forced into this spooky house by bullies, I believe near Halloween. The boy is 12? Possibly younger? I’m sure his name is Toby, and that is likely the name of the book, but I can’t find it by that title anywhere.
He has to spend the night in this old house because the bullies block/locked the doors. I believe he was locked in the attic? Or stayed there overnight. He learned that his fears are in his head and he needn’t fear his imagination.
I read it before 1980, so it would be at least that old, but not much older.
It isn’t long, or large. It might even be a short story, but I’ve not been able to find one by that title that fits the story either.
The cover reminded me of Where the Sidewalk Ends in style of drawing.

340U: Talk Show Goes To The Dogs

This book is fiction, and could be a novel, short story, or novella, but set in the current time and real world when the book was published (sometime between 1960-1985). A famous night-time talk show (along the lines of The Tonight Show during the Carson age) hosts a segment featuring a guest who is a man with a very smart dog; the guest claims the dog can understand spoken conversation, beyond just verbal commands. There are a number of conflicts that arise; the main conflict is the sponsor of the show (a dog food company, I think) wanting to use the dog in advertising, but the dog’s owner refusing. I think it is set in Manhattan, and the book culminates in a dog fight on the ice of a pond in Central Park (between the smart dog, I think a golden retriever, and a doberman pinscher).

340T: Philosophical Conversation All The Rage On Worldwide Network

Looking for a science fiction novel which starts with an older man on a park bench having a conversation with two or three youths (I think young men, teens). It is a philosophical conversation, mostly about economics and society. The interaction is recorded via a smart device, and uploaded to the worldwide network; it becomes enormously popular, the old man becomes quite wealthy and the teens are viewed as somewhat famous (infamous?) for their part in the conversation as foils, even decades later. This may have been a novella or short story, as well, and may have been by Vernor Vinge or David Brin; it would have come out after 1990 or thereabouts.

339W: Woman Discovers Husband’s Ship’s Mast In The Eye Of A Hurricane

I’m hoping that you can help me find a short story…I’ve been googling keywords but to no avail.
Clues:
This was a short story that I read during middle school. It was in the same textbook or collection of short stories as The Deadliest Game by Richard Connell.
As I recall it, the plot involved an old woman who lived near the beach in New England. There was a hurricane and she went for a walk on the beach during the eye of the storm. During her walk she observed a ship mast (or maybe it was a ship Figurehead) washed up by the storm.
I think her long lost husband or lover, was last seen on that ship and she found some sort of closure by finding this piece of it.
Keywords: Hurricane, eye of the storm, ship, mast, figurehead, New England, beach, old woman
Thanks in advance

335Q: The Return Trip (Short Story)

I’m looking for a short story from about 10-15 years ago, title was something like “The Return Trip”.  The flight of a famous M.D. is grounded in Boston for weather.  In the airport, he receives a call from a young woman, the daughter of an old girlfriend who is dying of cancer.  Story ends with his burning the unopened DNA lab results of the (his?) daughter, ordered years ago by the mom.  Published in the July issue of an airline magazine (USAir?) about 10-15 years ago.

I realize it’s not a book, just a short story.  I recall Googling the author when I knew his name, he had several collections of short stories, but none included this particular story.  Not sure if it was ever published anywhere other than the airline magazine.  I don’t recall the airline, but United and USAir were the most likely.  I do know that it was a July edition of the magazine.

327D: Bejeweled Bird Comes To A Tragic End

This is the story I am looking for. I was in elementary school when my father read it to me. I’m afraid that it might have morphed some in my memory. It has stuck with me a long time. I’m 65. So he would’ve read it to me in the mid 60’s. This story sounds vaguely similar to the Nightingale but I do not remember a mechanical bird in my story. It is tragic like the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen stories. I do not have a title or an author.

This story involves a bird that a man, maybe a king, is enamored of, either because of its beauty or its song. I don’t remember which. The bird pleases the king so much that the king decorates it with jewels. It seemed like he thought he was was rewarding the bird. Giving it value. The bird can’t fly, can’t do bird things, is ostracized by its friends, becomes tragically lonely and dies of a broken heart. That’s what I remember.

326D: Air Force Pilot Takes On Dragon In Storm Cloud

Short fantasy/sci-fi story in an anthology aimed at young readers in the late 70s/early 80s - I seem to remember reading it in late elementary school, though it could have been middle school. Story was about an Air Force pilot who lost a friend to a dragon in a storm cloud, but no one believed him, so he stole a plane and went back up to kill the dragon. He was catatonic and white-haired when the plane landed, and everyone thought he was just crazy, until they watched his gun-camera footage of his attack runs on the dragon.