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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?

303N: Rowing through the air, as spirits, in a “spirit canoe”

In 1980, I read a book whose story details I recall only dimly. I do not recall the title.

Two children travel far from home to another place. I forget the purpose or motive for their journey. I believe it may have been a brother and a sister.

At one point during their long journey, they sleep in a friend / ally / friendly stranger’s houseboat (or boat or water-home of some kind.) The young girl (I think) listens to the water lapping up under the floor as she is going to sleep.

Near the end of the book, they encounter a civilization which had at some point stopped living in the world and now existed in a spirit form. The memory I recall when reading about this encounter, is that an individual (s) of this culture were rowing by them, or above them, as if rowing through the air, as spirits, in a “spirit canoe.”

The mood of their encounter with this race of spirit people was haunting, nostalgic, and a sense of loss or grief for the children. As a ten year old, I was moved somewhat sorrowfully when the children learned of or interacted with these spirits.

303M: Who Owns the Sun (not by Chbosky; much younger)

In 1974, aged 4, I repeatedly traced the letters of the book which I recall was entitled Who Owns the Sun?

I have since looked for it and only ever found Chbosky’s Who Owns the Sun online; that is not the book I’m seeking.

In the book I remember, it was thin and paperback with color drawings. The illustrations may have been watercolors but my memory isn’t certain.

The storyline: a chick hatches from its egg on a farm. Once out of the egg, the chick goes from farm animal to farm animal asking “who owns the sun?”

Each farm animal’s response is somewhat unique but amounts to “I don’t know,” or “it isn’t known.” The chick does not learn who owns the sun by the end of the story.

303L: By the Sea, By the Sea (Solved)

I am looking for a novel which I read in the early 1960s, a gently humorous story of the eccentric inhabitants of a seaside town located along the Atlantic Ocean. The name of the town was “Plankton”. Three of the inhabitants were retired school teachers who shared a house, one of whom spent her days entering and winning contests. There were other residents, but since I was in either the 7th or 8th grade at the time, it was the school teachers who made the biggest impression on me.

A young single woman and a young man who loved insects and the study of bugs came into Plankton, eventually falling in love.

The young man was recruited to appear on a game show on television, where he dazzled the audience with his knowledge of bugs.

Of course, he won large sums of money.

The three school teachers took these two lonely people under their collective wing. Living in Plankton seemed to restore their confidence and their purpose in life.

When the two young people do fall in love and marry, they decide to live in Plankton. Their house was outfitted by the household items won by the content-winning school teachers.

I thought the title of the book was “By the Sea, By the Sea”, and the author’s name was Barkley or Berkely.

I remember that I had a paperback edition; the book may have been published in the mid to late 1950s. While I was a young teenager when I read this book, it was definitely a grown-up’s book.

I hope one of the book researchers will be able to find this charming, memorable book for me.

303K: Johnny Shiloh

I am looking for children’s book from 1960’s based on Disney Movie Johnny Shiloh with pictures from the Disney movie (shown on Wide World of Disney). This is Not the novel and NOT the gold key comic book. It may be from Scholastic Books but do not know. It would be paperback book.

303J: All For Nothing?

They had this picture book at my preschool in the mid-’80s, though it may have been published earlier. It was about a boy who got into all sorts of trouble “for nothing,” as he described it. Escapades included putting water in the gas tank of the car and chopping down the family Christmas tree (“Sometimes they even spank me for nothing!”). The story ended with something like, “Oh well…in the end I guess it’s all ok.” The illustrations were large, simple, and goofy, almost like kids’ drawings; I remember the characters had big mitt-like hands and line-drawn smiles and frowns.

303I: Eye of the Needle

I am looking for a childrens/YA book I would have read in the early 1980s (probably not written before 1950) in which there was a rock formation known as the Needle, because it was needle-shaped, with a hollow at the top, in which was a haystack – so at some point the hero or heroine was looking for something in a haystack in the Needle.  That is the one detail I remember.

303H: Frogs in a bike race in France?

This was a children’s book/ picture book I remember from my first grade teacher’s classroom in 1979. There was either a bike race happening, like the Tour de France, or the characters were using bikes in pursuit of or running away from something, and one of the characters was a tall and kind of lanky frog (wearing a beret or newsboy cap). He was dressed kind of like a Provencal country gentleman. He ended up going through underground tunnels (or sewers) either to escape or catch up. I remember artwork showing the frog climbing out through a manhole. This has bugged me for years and no one seems to have any idea of what I’m talking about.

303G: 80s Children’s Chapter Story Anthology Big Book

I think from the 80s, it was an anthology with chapters of different kids stories in it. I think there was a Judy Blume chapter (Fudge), a story about a boy picking between a blue or red toothbrush, a story about a kid not wanting to touch the gunk in the bottom of the sink that is left after the dishes, maybe the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle story about the kids not hearing their parents so they put powder in their ears, maybe a Wayside story chapter. I think it was a big white book (hardcover with a white jacket).

303F: 1970’s cement stream

I’m looking for a book from 1970-74ish. I think it was in a city; there was a neighbor that the kids started to hang out with. It may have had a nature/environmental feel/message. They worked together to dig a stream bed in the guy’s front yard, which they lined with concrete and then painted rainbow colors. I remember my imagination soaring with this book!

Thank you!