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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?

245E: A girl, a witch and a cat

I read this book in the 70s or 80s. It was titled something like “The girl, the witch, and the cat” or something. I really only remember that the title had a list of 2 or 3 things and said witch. It is not the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. I believe there were 3 books in the series. It was about a girl around 12? who befriends a kooky old lady who turns out to be a good witch. The 2 become very close, like family. I believe the girl is an only child. There may also be an old warlock who is friends with the old lady. One part i remember is there is an old friend of the lady who tries to kill or put a spell on her. This results in the girl having to drive the old lady’s car to help save her. When she looks in the rear-view mirror she sees glowing eyes in the backseat; knows this is the bad lady. Somehow it all turns out good. It seems there may also be magical items such as a bowl, a phoenix, the cat, etc. Though I may be mixing those up with another beloved lost story.

245D: Two sisters come-of-age

The novel was either YA or teen, something I read in the 1980s. It was mass market at the time. It focused on a family, more specifically a teenage girl. One of the first scenes involved her riding on the subway with her older sister. The two see a group of young men attempting to rob an elderly woman. The older sister steps in and is eventually kicked in the stomach by one of the men. This incident reveals that the older sister is pregnant, something that causes some conflict for the family. It is around Christmas. The younger sister spends time with a teacher, in one scene driving around at night looking at the Christmas lights. She also spends a night with a girlfriend of hers, someone who is depicted as a free spirit. I seem to recall that the younger sister was torn by her feelings for her sister – resentment at the attention she was receiving, but also love.

Thank you for your time.

245C: Purple Fabric Hardback Fairy Tale Collection Book With Many Illustrations

I had this book for 11 years before losing it a couple years ago during some moves. I bought the book from my elementary school library in 1999-2000, in one of those sales where they get rid of old or damaged books. The book was hardback, felt like it had fabric over the hardback material but I don’t know that it ever had a dust jacket or anything. The cover was illustrated, with I think either a tower or the “man in the moon”, or both. The book was a purple-maroon color, possibly a faded dark blue the way dark blues and blacks might fade with bleach, but I’m pretty sure it was the purple-maroon color originally.

Some stories I remember, but can’t find exactly on any searches:
1. A poor man lets some elves/fairies eat the last of his food (bread and cheese), and they repay him by placing a coin on his oven that always is replaced when you remove it. I think it flies in from the window or something. He becomes rich, and marries a woman who is different from the other villagers, I think from another town/city. She is vain, and washes her face in milk to keep it pale, while other villagers wash their face in cold water to keep their cheeks rosy. The wife doesn’t like that no one has ever seen the elves/fairies, so she sneaks up on them one night and they disappear and take the money, leaving the man and wife poor.
2. A man sees these fairies dancing at night (either 8 or 12), and thinks one is incredibly beautiful, and describes her features to be like the moon and so forth. I believe her hair was black, not sure. He ends up kidnapping her to be his wife. She becomes very sad and either stops talking to him or tricks him into letting her go.
3. A girl is given 3 presents, which she opens when she needs help from I think her step mother, who makes her do ridiculous things. I think she helped an old lady, who gave her the presents. They might have just been called colorful boxes. One present was opened when she was told to make a cake, and the box contained a giant cake. The last box had a man/prince in it to take the girl away.
4. There was one about the man in the moon, a man built a Tower to reach the moon and I guess he ended up stuck there. Somewhere in the book is an illustration of the tower and of him in the moon, which was a full moon and a smiling face with crinkled eyes. It’s also possible I’m combining 2 stories, but I’m not sure.
5. A boy finds a leprechaun and gets it to reveal his pot of gold. The boy knows he can’t take his eyes off the leprechaun or it will vanish, but the leprechaun eventually tricks the boy into putting him in his pocket. As soon as the boy does this, he realizes what he has done and the leprechaun has disappeared.
6. There was a version of Rapunzel, not sure if that was the title of the story but I’m assuming so. A pregnant woman gets her husband to steal greens out of the witch’s garden, and the witch makes them give up the baby. The witch locks her in a tower, and eventually a prince rides by and climbs her hair, and they fall in love. The witch finds out and causes the prince to fall into brambles, blinding him, and eventually rapunzel finds him again, and cures him of his blindness with her tears.
7. There is also a version of Rumpelstiltskin, where he helps her spin golden thread for three days in exchange for her firstborn child. Then he gives her a chance to keep her child, if she can guess his name in 3 days. She eventually hears him singing his name, and gets to keep her baby.
I want to say there is a number in the title, like 100 or 50, and a list of all the stories in a table of contents. But I feel like that’s too many, so I could be wrong.

245B: Picture books – haunted house & ship that grows legs (Solved)

“I’m looking for a series of picture books, at least I think it was a series, I know there were at least two. I read them both in the mid-late 90s. The first one was about a haunted house or hotel and each double page spread showed a cross-section of the building with the inhabitants of each room visible. As you moved through the book the story within each room progressed and the characters moved from room to room and the stories spilled into each other. By the very last double page spread I remember all hell had broken loose and the building was (I think) starting to collapse.
The second book was a similar concept except it was set on a steamboat carrying passengers on the sea. Again, you could see all the ship’s passengers. I remember that at some point a magic potion was accidentally spilled into the ship’s boiler and the ship grew legs and started to walk on land.
I think the books were wordless.
Any help is much appreciated.

245A: What’s a Waney

I’m looking for a children’s picture book that we read around the late 80s or early 90s, although it may have been published earlier. A child looks for his/her lost sibling (Wayne or Wanie, or Waney?) on a farm and maybe in other locations. I specifically remember one part where he goes into a chicken house asking if they’ve seen Wayne, and the chickens ask “What’s a waney??” I’ve googled every variation on those words/spellings but can’t find anything! I think I remember full color illustrations, but my mom thinks they may have been line drawings.

244F: Sisters, friendship, and paper dolls

Two sisters, one late teens/early 20’s and one around 9 or 10. They are poor. I think the way it goes is that the younger sister makes a friend somehow and goes to her house to play or something. The friend is much more well off than the two sisters. The older sister comes to the house of the little sister’s friend also at some point. At the end the older sister and the little sister’s friend’s brother become boyfriend and girlfriend.

The one thing that really impressed me when I read it was that the two little girls cut out pictures of the models in catalogues and made paper doll families out of them and after reading that book my friends and I started doing that as well.
Thanks for the opportunity to say more about the story.  I hope someone else will recognize it.

244E: A family journeys home

I’m looking for a children’s book that was primarily illustrations, but had some text as well. I remember the title as “The Drive Home” or “The Journey Home” or something of the sort, but Google isn’t particularly helpful for those queries. The story was about a family traveling home after going some place – I don’t recall if they were visiting family or what, but they began in the countryside and gradually passed through the city as they got closer to their home.

I remember one of the scenes being them going past a wedding, and another where they passed a strawberry field. (One of the kids asks if they can pick strawberries and the parent says “Maybe another time.”) I believe they also passed a party or festival in the city at one point, and the story concludes with one of the parents saying something along the lines of “It’s been a good drive home.”

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

244D: Synesthesia girl defeats corrupt Dystopian government (Solved)

Probably 10 years ago, I read a young adult book that I cannot remember the title or author of. I also cannot remember the names of the characters. However, I can recall nearly the whole plot.

The main character is a girl who lives in a community that has rebuilt after the devastating sound wars. To avoid another sound war, they no longer sing or make music. They also all wear masks that they receive as young adults, to stay unified. Before they get their masks, they color a coat according to their ability by humming into a machine. The girl, however, does not seem to have a talent. She can see sounds as colors, but does not realize this is a talent, she just assumes everyone can do it. The girl is told that she will have another year to find her talent, but then she gets in trouble for sneaking in to watch the masking ceremony. She ends up having to work as a maid because of this. Then she does something else wrong and, to keep from being punished, she ends up running away outside the walls of her community. She finds a group of people who live outside the walls, and they teach her the true history of how the sound wars happened. The girl realizes that the people who are controlling her old community were the bad guys. She returns to save everyone, has an epic battle, and ends up using her gift to eventually conquer the corrupt rulers and free her people.

244C: Richard Scarry-ish Book from mid-80s

I’ve been trying to figure out how to go about locating a book from childhood. It was in the vein of Richard Scarry as far as similar illustrative style though it wasn’t focused on learning individual words. (The age range was basic reading level, thinking somewhere between 5-9?) There were descriptive informative blurbs/individual paragraphs and corresponding artwork. The one illustration I remember in detail pertained to what happens when you cut your finger (or maybe just get a cut anywhere). The red vs white blood cells fighting it out, etc. I vaguely recall it being oversized with a sky blue base color and variously illustrated on the covers. The overall theme seemed to be life/the world/perhaps how things work? I was reading this somewhere between 1986-1990. I fear this is likely not enough information though I appreciate the effort to help solve this book hunt.