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Welcome to the Stump the Bookseller blog!  Stump the Bookseller is a service offered by Loganberry Books to reconnect people to the books they love but can’t quite remember. In brief (for more detailed information see our About page), people can post their memories here, and the hivemind goes to work. After all, the collective mind of bibliophiles, readers, parents and librarians around the world is much better than just a few of us thinking. Together with these wonderful Stumper Magicians, we have a nearly 50% success rate in finding these long lost but treasured books. The more concrete the book description, the better the success rate, of course.  It is a labor of love to keep it going, and there is a modest fee.  Please see the How To page to find price information and details on how to submit your Book Stumper and payment.

Thanks to everyone involved to keep this forum going: our blogging team, the well-read Stumper Magicians, the many referrals, and of course to everyone who fondly remembers the wonder of books from their childhood and wants to share or revisit that wonder.  Isn’t it amazing, the magic of a book?

266F: Collection of Fairy Tale Stories From Childhood

My mom bought me a hardback collection of fairy tale stories in December of 1996, 1997, or 1998. She remembers purchasing it from Barnes and Noble, and recall it was a special holiday edition. I do not know the title, though I think I vaguely remember the worlds “Once Upon a Time” on the cover. I remember that the cover was a royal blue, and I think there was a picture of a castle/kingdom centered on the front. I think the book was almost square in shape. The pages were gold, that was one of my favorite things. I remember a couple stories from it, the Princess and the Pea I remember distinctively, and I know there was one about a man stealing herbs from a witch’s garden because they would heal his wife’s illness, but they made a deal to give the witch their first born child, so maybe this is a Brother’s Grimm book? I know there are a lot of stories I think may be in there, but those are the two I remember very well, so I don’t want to accidentally give a story that is not there.

It was such a beautiful book, and all I want is to find it and have it for my children to enjoy as well.

266D: Scary picture book about a monster that constructs itself from other animals/plants

I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me find a picture book from my childhood that I have been searching for for years. My mum borrowed it from our local library (in Victoria, Australia) sometime in the 90s, perhaps any time from 1997 onwards. It was a dark (both in theme and illustration style) picture book with detailed illustrations similar to those of Gary Crew’s The Watertower. I think it was designed for older readers (8-12 years). I used to think the title was Is Any Body There?, but I’ve searched so many libraries, bookstores and databases for it that I must have got the title wrong. 

In the book, the protagonist is walking through different landscapes that have recently been destroyed by something or someone. The protagonist walks into the woods and says “Is any body there?” (or something along those lines). The wood’s inhabitants reply something like “Yes, somebody was here”, and the trees say something like “It took our branches”.  I think other animals in the woodland also said that they had parts stolen from them, but I can only remember the trees. 


The protagonist continues journeying and reaches a lake, where they also say, “Is any body there?”. The inhabitants of the lake also respond “Yes, somebody was here”, and say that something stole their body parts too. I can only remember the fish saying “It stole our eyes”. The illustrations very vividly depicted the fish under the water, with empty eye sockets.


The protagonist follows the trail of destruction through several other landscapes (sorry, I can’t remember them) and arrives at a house in a forest (I think). The protagonist makes their way to the basement, where they say for the final time, “Is any body there?”. A response comes from the darkness: “Yes, some body is here”. On the final page, there is a detailed illustration of a monster that is clearly constructed from all of the parts stolen from the animals, trees and environments. 

The illustrations were in dark, earthy shades and I think it’s possible that the narration was either first- or second-person to heighten the immersion, but I can’t remember much more about the book than that. I’ve spoken to several librarians (including one who worked at the library we borrowed the book from originally) and booksellers, and no one knows of this book. Only my sister remembers it, otherwise I would have thought I’d fabricated it entirely. 

Any help in solving this would be very, very much appreciated – this mystery has been annoying me for too long! 

 

Many thanks,

265E: A girl wants to be an investigative reporter

I’m looking for a book that I would have read no later than 1992. It was almost certainly published in the mid/late 80s or very early 90’s. A light, funny YA (possibly upper-middle grade or tween) book in the vein of Ellen Conford or Paula Danziger, although I don’t believe it was actually by either of them. The version I read was a hardcover, with an illustrated cover that was more cartoonish than realistic. I believe the cover features a girl in a dumpster or garbage can, although it’s possible that was just an episode in the book that I’m conflating with the cover in my memory.

It’s about a girl who wants to be an investigative reporter. She’s working for the school newspaper and begins to uncover some kind of light mystery. (Not a murder or anything like that.) The most specific thing that sticks out in my mind is that the girl and her friend use a lot of lingo and abbreviations in casual conversation, including the shorthand “L.L.A.” to mean “lifelong ambition.”

I believe the title has the girl’s name in it. I feel like the title might have a similar construction to Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great, although it’s obviously not that book. The book is also not Buffalo Brenda by Jill Pinkwater. Anyway, it’s driving me crazy. (I still think about my L.L.A.’s all the time.) Please help me put this to rest!