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Lost Childhood Books

Every couple of months or so we convene our panel of librarian sleuths. If you've never heard the segment before, here's how it works in a nutshell. You send us emails describing a book from your childhood that you would like to be able to find again. And our librarian sleuths try to track it down. Perhaps you remember the author but not the title. Or maybe the illustrations are a standout for you. Send us as much info as you can remember and our team of volunteer children's librarians will do there best to track them down. (nxnw@cbc.ca) This time Sheryl was joined by Alison Campbell and Fran Ashdown.
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Name: Monica Davis from Sechelt

Email:  I grew up in Ontario in the 50's.  We used to go to the big Toronto Library for our books and a favourite of mine was a book called "Horace, The Bear" rather ghoulish, but totally fascinating to me - I have not been able to find if it is still in libraries.  Good Luck Monica Davis



Author:  Alice M. Coats

Title:  The Story of Horace

Publisher:   Faber & Faber, 1937


Fran:  I owned an old discarded copy back in the late '70's and read it to my children who absolutely loved it. Horace the bear lived in a large household and every time father went out hunting Horace ate another family member. Father chastised Horace each time he came home to a smaller family but Horace " took on so" that he didn't have the heart to kill him. This is not the most  politically correct title out there for the picture book crowd! I tried to find out more about the author but she is pretty obscure. She wrote some o ther books but nothing similar to this one. The illustrations were simple l ine drawings and not very exciting.

There is a copy available at the New Westminster Public Library


Name: Adrian Unger

Email: Was just listening to your show and thought of 2 children's illustrated books I had:

1) A grey book, probably nearly 8x10 in shape, hardcover. The cover was an illustrated goofy, green bird. The story is about how this bird can't fly.


2) Thin, softcover, probably 11x7 in shape. A book about what happens to kids who do bad things. Each forbidden activity is isolated from the others. The cover is an illustration of a kid writing graffiti on a wall.

Would love to find these, besides The Giving Tree, these are the most prominent books I remember from my childhood.



Author: Heinrich Hoffmann

Title:  Stuwwelpeter

Publisher: originally published in Germany is 1845


Fran:  English edition was published  in 1848. This is a compilation of cautionary poems which describe the dangers of sucking thumbs,  teasing people, starving yourself, bullying , etc. In most cases the children who disobey come to a bad end! I owned this book as a child and I remember that I instantly stopped sucking my thumb after having the book read to me. Hoffma wrote and illustrated this book as a Christmas present for his three-year-old son. The book has been very popular over the years and has been translated into several languages. Hoffman wrote under some rather strange pseudonyms, such as Polykarpus Gastfenger and Zwiebel which translates into English as "onion"!


Name: Michele Dougherty from Wading River NY

Email: I remember reading a book which was a collection of stories about animals with human characteristics. I think it was called "The call of teh Wind". One character I remember was Benjamin Bunny.


Author:  Thornton W. Burgess

Title: Old Mother West Wind

Publisher :  Little Brown, 1910


Alison: I think this is what the listener is referring to, although despite the many titles by Burgess (172 by one account!), the name Benjamin Bunny does not turn up (it may be that he doesn't have a title role).  Perhaps Michele is blending Beatrix Potter characters with Burgess' characters, as they both wrote about Peter Rabbit. The Burgess books are chapter books with line drawings, and Potter's books are typically very small and feature water colours.  Many libraries still have copies of his books, and they are widely available online. From Wikipedia:

"His outdoor observations in nature were used as plots for his stories. In his first book, Old Mother West Wind, published in 1910, the reader meets many of the characters found in later books and stories. The characters in the Old Mother West Wind series include Peter Rabbit (briefly known as Peter Cottontail), Jimmy Skunk, Sammy Jay, Bobby Raccoon, Little Joe Otter, Grandfather Frog, Billy Mink, Jerry Muskrat, Spotty the Turtle, Old Mother West Wind and her Merry Little Breezes.

For the next 50 years, Burgess steadily wrote books that were published around the world in many languages, including Swedish, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Gaelic. Collaborating with him was his illustrator and friend Harrison Cady of New York and Rockport, Massachusetts. Peter Rabbit was created by British author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, prompting Burgess to note, "I like to think that Miss Potter gave Peter a name known the world over, while I with Mr. Cady's help perhaps made him a character."[4]

From 1912 to 1960, without interruption, Burgess wrote his syndicated daily newspaper column, "Bedtime Stories", and he also was heard often on radio. His Radio Nature League radio series began at WBZ, then located in Springfield, in early January 1925. Burgess broadcast the program from the studio at the Hotel Kimball on Wednesday evening at 7:30pm ("WBZ Starts Radio Nature Association," Christian Science Monitor, 18 February 1925, p. 9). Praised by educators and parents, the program had listeners and members in more than 30 states at its peak. Burgess' Radio Nature League disbanded in August 1930, but he continued to give radio talks for WBZ on conservation and the humane treatment of animals. ("Complete Abolition of Steel Trap

Name: Samuel Stevenson from Winlaw

Email:  I often think of a book I read as a child set in a fast-order diner run by animals (a hippo and an elephant, maybe?). The crux of the story was the bizarre shorthand that the server and cook used to refer to the dishes (ie. flat piggy, extra grease for ham sandwich with extra mayo). Sound familiar?



Author: Alexandra Day

Title: Frank and Ernest

Publisher:  Green Tiger Press, 2010 (originally Scholastic, 1988)


Alison:  This is the description from Amazon: " Frank, a bear, and Ernest, an elephant, specialize in taking care of small businesses while the owner is away. When Mrs. Miller hires them to run her diner for three days, they assure her that they will take good care of it. Then Frank decides they must learn diner lingo before they begin. For an order of a hot dog with ketchup and a dish of Jell-O, Ernest yells, "Paint a bow-wow red, and I need a nervous pudding." And for a vanilla milk shake with an egg in it, to go, Frank calls out for a "white cowmake it cackle and let it walk." As Frank and Ernest take care of the customers, readers will enjoy the funny way in which an order is translated into diner-ese; it's just the kind of wordplay that kids like, and love to imitate. Frank and Ernest, in stodgy colors of brown and gray, form a contrast to the airy lines of the gleaming diner, but look perfectly comfortable in the art of slinging hash."


Because it has recently been reprinted, this should be fairly easy to get hold of.  Beaver Valley Public Library has a copy, if that's close to you.  It's a fun book, and good for older children--younger ones won't get the references. Ham is referred to as "Noah's boy" and a potato is "Murphy", so it may take some explaining. I used it this summer for our Summer Reading Club program, and the kids liked the idea of it, but I'm not sure they "got" it all.


Name: Brian Mason from Victoria

Email:  My wife is trying to find out where to obtain a copy of a book she read to her children about 30 or more years ago in Toronto.  It was a federal government publication, a big book, about 12" by 12", but not thick.  Each chapter featured a vegetable coming to life to teach kids about values.  The title is "A Hole in the Fence". Perhaps your sleuths can help us find a copy?


Answer: This is all the information I could find--it comes from Wikipedia, but apparently A Hole in the Fence also has a Facebook page, so I guess other people remember it too!  As it was published in the mid-70s I think it would be quite hard to come by. You could try eBay or online booksellers such as ABEBooks, or maybe the Facebook page has other suggestions.

The Hole in the Fence (ISBN 9780660105185, 1976) is an anthology-like storybook, starring a series of vegetable characters. Published in Canada by authority of the Canadian Minister of National Health and Welfare, it was a project of the Health Promotion Directorate, Health Services and Promotions Branch.

The stories starred (in order of appearance) Carrot, Radish, Potato, Tomato, Onion, Beet, Bully Cucumber, Brussels Sprouts, best friends Pea and Bean, Pumpkin, Mushroom, Mr. Cauliflower, Corn, Broccoli, Mr. Cabbage, Asparagus, Eggplant, a doctor (Uncle Corn), Chinese Cabbage, and Little Green Tomato.

It's meant to keep kids away from drugs. in the book, the vegetables have many mini stories. one including when the vegetables to go to the hole in the fence to see a mushroom on the other side. when they meet the mushroom, he shows them "magic" mushroom ends up being unkind and mean creating the other vegetables to leave. this is a subliminal message telling kids not to use magic mushrooms

Name: Yvonne Davidson from Kelowna

Email: I had a little book as a child called "Poppy the Four Inch Fairy". It was about a little fairy that came to live with a family and the only way they could keep her out of trouble was to put her under a colander with some clay to play with. Unfortunately she plugged all the holes she could reach with the clay and then cried because she couldn't see out etc,



Author: Anna Perez-Guerra

Title: Poppy, or The adventures of a fairy

Publisher: Rand, McNally & Co., 1931


This is available online second-hand through Amazon or ABE Books. The cover features what looks like a little girl in a red dress standing in a candle holder, and the candle is as big as she is.  Other people are looking for this, too. Someone even wrote a poem:


Childhood Books 


Most of us had childhood books

The meant so much to us long ago

We can remember the story if not the words

It seems we cannot let it go


That's the way I feel about my favorite

Called Poppy the Four Inch Fairy

I've looked and looked on the internet

I've sent out so many queries


But nothing, my friend, have I gotten

For feedback of my favorite book

Little Poppy is lost forever

She is nowhere that I look


So I guess she will live only in my memory

I can picture her with her light brown curls

Investigating a dollhouse because

Into the world of giants she was hurled


I'll bet you have special memories too

Of childhood books from long ago

That will stay in your mind forever

And you too cannot let them go!

By Marilyn Lott


Name: Leila Nair from Burnaby

Email: The book was titled "London Pride" (not the Phyllis Bottom one) - about a pair of outrageous orphans living with Aunt..., who holds their legacy of 1000 pounds from their parents in Trust.  Every time the little dears are guilty of having caused a loss, they suggest that it is taken out of their "1000 pounds".  I chanced on the book in my early teens in small town India (Kerala) in 1943 and enjoyed it even more than I might have at the appropriate age.  Have never been able to locate it since.

Telephone: 6044209752

Email: leilanair@hotmail.com

Province: BC

City: Burnaby



Author:  Joanna Cannan

Title:  London Pride

Publisher:  Fidra, 2007


London Pride is the sequel to We Met Our Cousins, which was first published in 1937, and has recently been reprinted.  These are stories about John and Amanda, who come to live with their aunt and uncle and cousins while their parents are in India. London Pride is the name they give to a pony they secretly buy and try to hide from the adults.


Cannan wrote for adults and children, and according to the biography by her publisher, was the creator of the "post-war pony book genre", and was succeeded by her three daughters.


Burnaby Public Library does not have a copy, but the reprint is available on amazon.ca .


Found by Jim Looney


Name: Anne Watson from Vancouver

Email: Here's a stumper for you (even Sheila Egoff couldn't get this one) I read this book sometime around 1961-62, when I was around 11 or 12 years old, and was living in West Vancouver at the time.  The main character of the book is a young girl (maybe 9 - 12 years old?), whose grandfather dies. I don't remember too many details, but she's facing some difficulty in life, and her grandfather returns to her, reincarnated as a pencil (yes, you read that right). The girl discovers this by accident, and communicates by writing to her grandfather. The grandfather writes back to her via the magic pencil (which writes on its own), and gradually the pencil is worn down. By the time it's almost worn away, the girl has moved through her difficulties and doesn't need help any more. For some reason, this book has stuck with me for almost 50 years. It sounds silly, but was very moving.



Author:  Patricia Ward

Title: The Silver  Pencil (published in US as The Secret Pencil)

Publisher:  Collins, 1959


This probably isn't it, but it's got a self-writing pencil, a girl, and a dead ancestor!


THE SILVER PENCIL (Collins; 10s. 6d.), by Patricia Ward, is one of those semi-mystical books which may or may not be held to have "come off," according to the reader's subjective reactions. Anna on holiday at the Welsh coast finds an old silver pencil, which turns out to have belonged to her great-grandfather. It has "planchette" conversations with her, and finally disappears. There is much good incident in the book, but a fairly thick icing of morality -" kindness," and "courage," and other such unimpeachable virtues-which are much better actively illustrated than talked about.


Found by Jim Looney


Name: Gwen Walwyn from Garden Bay

Email: My sister Jane and I had favourite bed time poems we insisted on hearing every night when we were younger. Must have driven our parents crazy! Mine was "Windy Nights," from A Child's Garden of Verse, my sisters was about a tomato.

"Down down down down

Down the red lane

You won't see old Tom Tomatoe again ... "

We grew up in Britain and were listening to these poems in the late 60's, early 70's. 

We can't remember the title of the anthology with "Tom Tomatoe" but the illustration accompanying the poem included some one sitting atop a garden wall.  

Hope you are able to help,



Found this on the web but without the source, unfortunately.  There is also a variation of it that is a rhyme for babies in which the baby eats the tomato.


Old Tom tomato like a red ball

Basked in the sunshine, by the garden wall.

Along came David, his mouth open wide

and Old Tom tomato walked inside....

Down down down, down the red lane,

We won't see Old Tom tomato again.

David chuckled...

Ha ha ha, I like red tomatos, please give me some more


There are a lot of questions about this poem on the web and it seems that the poem is from a Ladybird series, called Bedtime Rhymes:


 Here's the description from the Ladybird site:  http://www.ladybirdflyawayhome.com/pages/diff_versions.htm


Found by Jim Looney


From: Melanie Palmer [mailto:sing.melanie@gmail.com]

Sent: July-11-11 8:39 PM

To: nxnw@cbc.ca

Subject: librarian sleuths




Some of my earliest memories are of when I was a toddler and my Mom would read me stories before bed. I am looking for two books I recall - I had this amazing nursery rhyme book, which had the greatest illustrations in it, along with classics like Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Three Men in a Tub, and my personal favorite: There Was a Little Girl, Who Had A Little Curl Right in the Middle of her Forehead, When She was good she was very very good but when she was bad she was horrid! This would have been published in the late seventies or early eighties but recalling the classic look of the photographs could have been a reprint from much earlier.

The other book was the teeny tiny woman, who found a bone to make some soup but then was subsequently haunted by the ghost of the bone owner! I have googled "give me my bone!" but have not found the version I was read so many years ago in which the illustrations consisted of photographed clay or some such material figurines and landscapes. It truly captured my imagination.

I would love to locate copies of these and read them to my daughter who is two. She loves books and we love telling her stories and hope to pass down the same passion for reading that we have.


Thank you!




Nathalie thinks she knows the first one:  I'm wondering if the nursery rhyme book could be Lavender's Blue compiled by Kathleen Lines. I had this in my childhood and loved it. The illustrations, by Harold Jones, are beautiful.

It's been reprinted several times and is readily available.



The second one sounds like the folktale The Teeny Tiny Woman. The best known version, and probably easiest to get, is by Paul Galdone, but the description of the illustrations doesn't fit. Barbara Reid and Eugenie Fernandes are both Canadian illustrators known for their work in plasticine, but neither list The Teeny Tiny Woman as one of the books they've done.










(I can't remember if we've already done this or not- AC)


Name: Don Crossley

Comments: Hi Sheryl,

I am trying to find a book that I read in my early childhood, the early 1960s.  It was one of many in the library of my elementary school, Sir William Van Horne (which just celebrated it's 100-year anniversary).

All that I can recall with certainty is that it was set in the cave-man era, and that two of the main characters where (brothers?) named Lame-Boy and Fleet Foot.

If the team has any idea about the title and author of the book I would love to hear it.

Love the show,

Thanks.  DC

Telephone: 604 980 0727

Email: don.crossley@telus.net

Province: BC

City: North Vancouver



Author:  Muriel H. Fellows

Title:  Little Magic Painter: a story of the Stone Age

Publisher:  The John C. Winston Company, 1938


This isn't available in any BC libraries, but you can check ABE Books for possibilities. 

A description from the dust jacket:

Fleetfoot, Lame Boy, and Oak Leaf were three little children who lived with their mother, father, and grandfather in a cave, thousands of years ago. It is wonderfully exciting to read about how boys and girls lived ten thousand years ago.


Long before men learned to build houses of their own, caves were used as homes. Often times wild beasts crept into these caves to protect themselves from wintry storms.


Scientists have found interesting things by digging in the floor of the caves. They have found spear and harpoon heads, stone knives and axes, beads and ornaments of shell and bone. These things tell us what the cave men ate and wore and the things they did. Sometimes the cave men painted beautiful pictures of animals on the walls of their cave homes. These, too, scientists found thousands of years after they were painted.


Miss Fellows tells of the caveman's everyday activities; sewing, painting, food-gathering, carving tools and weapons. An adventure with wolves, a strange tribal dance, grandfather's thrilling story of a mammoth hunt -- these are but a few of the adventures described by the author-artist in interesting text and charming illustrations.


And best of all there are many surprises and a secret, all hidden between the covers of LITTLE MAGIC PAINTER.


Found by Jim Looney


>>> <lyearwood@dccnet.com> 6/7/2011 8:38 PM >>>
Name: Linda Yearwood
Comments: Know What? No What!  A book my mom bought from a book club in the early 1960's and I cannot find the author.  The last page says "know what? No what!  I am having fun are you?
Telephone: 604 948-4944
Email: lyearwood@dccnet.com
Province: BC
City: Delta


Author:  Arline Baum

Title: Know What? No, What?

Publisher: Parent's Magazine Press, 1964


Other: very little other information, other than that it's available from online stores such as alibris and ABE Books. UBC has a copy in the Education Library.















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