Author Archives: admin

375C: Girls hide and take care of abused horse

It was a children’s fiction novel I read in the early to mid 1990s. The story was about a horse that had escaped from its owners, who I think were neglecting it. The escaped horse was found by two young girls who were friends, both of whom want to help the horse when they realise he’s hungry and in poor condition. Knowing that if they return the horse to the rightful owners that he’ll probably just continue to be neglected, the girls decide to care for him in secret rather than return him to the abusive owners. There’s an abandoned, overgrown stable at the back of a nearby property that is owned by a mysterious recluse who lives in the property’s main house, so the girls have to be very careful to not get caught trespassing by the landowner. The girls have to clear a tall enough path through the undergrowth and remove the poison ivy so they can move the horse into the old stable, which they do their best to clean and repair. They share the responsibility of caring for the horse, taking odd jobs around their neighbourhood to earn extra cash and they pool their pocket money to purchase the feed and supplies they need from the hardware store. Much of the story revolves around the girls working to feed the horse up to improve his physical condition and health, but it is also stressful and difficult for the young girls to constantly manage the demanding routine by themselves and still keep it secret from everyone, which creates some tension in their friendship. Eventually they get found out by the landowner, and the girls are terrified he will call the police and that they’ll be in big trouble for stabling the horse on his property without his permission. But when they finally speak to the man who owns the old stable they are surprised to find that he is actually a kind man and not scary like the schoolyard rumours said. He explains to them that he let the stable go to seed after his horse-loving daughter died, as it was just too painful for him to look at it and constantly be reminded of her. The young girls explain their side of the story to him and the man is touched by their passion and empathy for the neglected horse. To his surprise they remind him of his daughter, but not in the painful way he used to experience in years gone past. Instead he feels quite touched by their efforts to care for the horse and he realises that he also wants to see the horse properly looked after because his daughter would have wanted the same thing. He gives the girls permission to keep stabling the horse on his property, and I think he even promises to help repair stable and maybe even assist with some of expenses associated with keeping the horse. But the condition he gives them is that they have to come clean to their parents about what they’ve been doing. By the end of the book the girls are very happy to be caring for the horse openly with the permission of the owner and their parents, but they kind of miss the excitement of keeping such a huge and exciting secret from everyone.

375B: Impoverished Girl Knits Sweater

In fourth grade, in 1970, our teacher read us a chapter book about a girl in a concentration or refugee camp or impoverished village.   I remember descriptions of the harsh conditions and an episode where she knit a sweater for a woman in exchange for a cow. The sweater didn’t fit because the woman gained weight from drinking the milk and the girl had to redo the sweater.
Would love to know this book!

375A: Talking Pet Mouse

Pet mouse tells stories to his young girl owner From the 1960s or 70s. A young girl recovering from rheumatic fever gets a pet mouse. She discovers that he can talk, and he tells her stories of his past adventures. I think the book title is the name of the mouse, but it was an unusual name.

374Z: Children’s book that existed between 1992-2002

Full color picture book. A boys parents warn him not to go into woods. He sneaks out anyway, each page is a separate part of the woods and he encounters a unique type of creature/monster per page. I think one is like a colony of tree people, but at the end of the woods and in the final pages he starts getting chased by a smog creature, for like 4 pages he’s just running as the color pages are filling up with smoke. He barely escaped the forest and gets back into house or bed and thinks to himself “never doing that again”. The big part of the book is the escaping through the forest and running home from the smoke (which looks similar to a dragon maybe) but I think they never reveal what the monster is. This book is probably 14-33 pages. The other identifier is that each stage of the forest is a unique creature. Fantasy vibes. Pretty sure the book as color as well. – I know it’s not where are the wild things, and I know it’s not the tomtins. 

374Y: The Prince’s Love Triangle

Here is my description of the book:
Borrowed from library mid 1990s, a children’s picturebook. It’s title may have the word “love” in it. 
A little prince character called something like “Prince Curlique” (but I’m not sure of the spelling) because of his crazy hair/a curl  (sticks up?) on his head. 
He’s really smart but short or ugly or some unfortunate attribute.
He might get lonely and seek a girlfriend at some point, has sort of a love triangle with two princesses who are sisters trying to decide which one to marry(?)
He’s prone to being a bit harsh and testing his potential love interests if iirc
One princess is called Mira or Myra because she is an admirable yet unattractive genius level smart girl. She is the obvious match but his heart leans in other directions. The other princess is called Dora because she is an adorable hottie, she is however cursed with being clumsy and possibly unintelligent? Or inarticulate?
The ugly little prince curlicue guy and one or other of the princesses are pictured on a swing or seat together maybe on the final page?
The illustrations are very whimsical and to my memory lush and detailed, with historic rococo style maybe.
There is one page with a drapey princess canopy bed i think? The book starts with some of the characters as babies?
It’s kind of inappropriately romantic for kids in a way like that naked squashed fairy book from the same era because it’s about characters falling in romantic love with each other and the relationship stuff.
I think Mira/Myra is in love with Curlicue but I don’t think she prevails because of not being hot like her sister. I think one or other sister is also grossed out by him and that might have had moral repercussions.
There is some witchcraft involved possibly but more like the hand of fate because I don’t remember an antagonist.
I think Dora was Dancing and stepping on people’s toes because she was so clumsy 
Curlicue had red or blond hair.
Any of these remembered details may be somewhat incorrect. 
If I had to make comparisons, the alt love story of “Jane and the Dragon” is a well known one that’s vibe has similar whimsy. I think Myra was quite a roll-up-your-sleeves and get it done person and the art was similarly soft and evocative. The writing was dreamy and aphoristic, possibly why the story has not stayed on the shelves. But also something dark and sad about the characters’ difficulties finding love. 
I know beautifully illustrated kids storybooks are on high turnover in my library now, but they did have it once, would they have a record of decades-back purchased, now cancelled, books? Also I’m not sure if the high turnover was as rapid in the mid to late 1990s as it is today, so conceivably this book was 1980s at the earliest and just hung out on the shelf not getting borrowed much. The style would not have been any earlier based on the production techniques and the fact it was a fresh edition that we borrowed (but now so unknown to the internet that it must not have had many reissues if any)
I think that’s all I can think of that’s relevant. I would have said the book had a square format, normal picture book length  and possibly a soft cover no dust jacket? I’d have said slightly gloss paper rather than matte But I could be wrong about the soft cover.No idea of the publisher. If I had to guess would have thought the author might be American rather than British but that’s not a strong conviction.

I have a feeling the name curlicue is a total red herring and it may have been “Prince Quiff” or similar. But it related to his hair and unfortunate looks. The love interests’ names I’m more confident of because of their in-narrative meanings.

374X: Ben’s Mom on a Business Trip

I am looking for a library book from my childhood. The book is from the 1970s or very early 1980s, and focuses on a little boy named Ben. In the story, Ben’s mom goes on a business trip, leaving Ben and dad at home for a few days. They get off to a rough start with dad being late to pick up Ben from school and some other minor mishaps, but things improve before mom gets home. The entire book is illustrated with black and white photographs of what could be a real family – mom, dad, and son Ben. There are no drawn illustrations, just photographs. I believe there were also one or two more “Ben” books- maybe it was a small series- but the one I remember most centers on Ben’s experience while mom is on work travel.

374U: Gentleman Falls for Horse-Loving Woman

I am an avid classic novel reader and I read a book a few years ago and absolutely cannot figure out what it was. It reads very similar to a Brontë but I don’t think it was very mainstream, since no one else seems to recognize it.
It was set in the 1800s I think somewhere in the United Kingdom.
The plot was about this spunky brunette who was beautiful and unconventional. I remember her riding horses. She didn’t follow social norms and people had difficulty with that back then. Men kept falling for her. The main part of the plot was about a gentleman who falls for her against all his better judgement, proposes, and she declines. He licks his wounds and eventually marries a much more conventional easy going woman and they end up making a great pair, but the girl always wondered how he felt since she was his second choice. Ultimately, the spunky girl does settle down with someone and they are all able to be friends.
It’s not Far From the Madding Crowd or Portrait of a Lady or Age of Innocence or Pride and Prejudice.
If you can figure it out, I will be overjoyed.