Category Archives: Early Reader

372K: The Signs Come Alive! (Solved!)

Seeking a short children’s chapter book, some black and white line drawings. Published by the early 1990’s, probably much earlier. Inn signs from around town come alive at night and hang out together. Definitely a rabbit, a mermaid, and either a lion or a tiger. Possibly a unicorn as well. They get stuck in the position they are at when the sun rises, so they must rush back to get to their signs in time. A child notices that they’ve been shifting positions.

372H: A boy named Junior tries to fly (Solved!)

The book was found on the shelf of my grade school library near the Boxcar Children and my best guess of pub date is 1960s to 1990s-early reader chapter book/ middle school reading level. In the first book of the series a young boy jumps from the roof of the family barn with homemade (airplane?) wings and breaks both legs; I think the boy’s name is Junior- the story follows a sibling set who i remember being cared for by an older (non parent) male relative – there is a pet companion involved, a dog? At one point, Junior knocks on the front door to the home from the inside to ask permission to come sit outside with the older male relative in one of the series’ culminating scenes
This book has haunted my dreams for almost fifteen years and I badly want to find an old copy to read. please let me know if it sounds familiar and thank you for providing this essential service to society- that sounds facetious, but I promise I am serious as a heart attack, thank you. 

370D: Good Clean Fun for Kids!

The book was the size and style of a Dr Seuss book with an orange cover.  It contained fun things for kids to do ie: curly paper  book mark races ( something about Willy?) , rooting a sweet potato and making a newspaper tree.   I think it may have been the same illustrator as the Seuss books.  It would probably have been published in the 1960″s.

368M: Mysterious Archipelago

I’ve been looking for a book, but have been unable to find it – I believe it’s because I can’t remember any sufficiently specific keywords, but it’s also possible that I made the whole thing up. 
Context : it’s an early chapter book (see: Secrets of Droon, Fairy Realm) I would have read this somewhere between 2003-2010, but probably 2005-2006. This is part of a series of books, and I believe it’s the last one – probably the third or fourth book in the series. 
Physical description: I think it’s about 200-300 pages long, and I had it probably in a paperback, which I almost certainly got from the library. I think the cover was light (maybe a white background?) with some bright colors, and I distinctly remember both the cover art and the illustrations having a sparse, low-fi, doodle-y style. One of the things I remember best is that all the books had maps in the front, which I think were in black and white – this particular map shows the mythical islands where most of the story takes place, and I learned the word “archipelago” while reading it. It’s possible that the author was from the U.K., based on the vibes of the place names. 
Plot description: It’s a fantasy series (all the characters come from a fairly generic, medieval-y world, definitely none come from our world through a portal or anything). It features a young, plucky heroine, who is now a seasoned adventurer (despite her humble origins in the beginning of the series). She might have some kind of professional title (possibly “Royal Adventurer” or something of that ilk) – I’m pretty sure the first book in the series involves her being sent (or sending herself) to slay a dragon, but instead befriending it. I think at some point, she’s illustrated with curly, light-colored hair, wearing a horned helmet and an oversized chainmail shirt (possibly found in the dragon’s hoard?). In this book, she is caught in a storm (while flying on the dragon? Or perhaps in a boat? Did she sail into it on purpose?) and becomes stranded on an island that seemed to be part of myth (diegetically- she had found a partially destroyed map with some clues on it, while searching for some MacGuffin, which involved some kind of powerful object or noble person who had disappeared under unusual circumstances). On this island, there are people who might be mages of some sort, who heal her injuries, fix up her mode of transportation, and give her soft robes to wear – kind of a Calypso/ spa kind of thing. I think these people are also tall and unusually beautiful in some way. They have some kind of communal ritual involving music/singing, which maybe also controls the weather (possibly maintaining the storm that the heroine was caught in initially). It’s clear that the island is way better than the place that the heroine comes from (delicious food, clear crystalline water, warm weather, birds singing, what-have-you) and the people want to protect it or something. The heroine is then able to explore the archipelago and finds a resolution to her initial quest/MacGuffin. The people on the island offer the heroine a permanent place in their luxurious hidden society (are they trying to hide something suspicious, or rewarding her valor? Maybe they’re just like that) but she feels an obligation to the people who sent her on her initial quest, and so returns home. After this, she feels that her adventuring days have come to an end, and retires in a hilly place with sheep and apples. If she has a dragon, it might live in her barn or otherwise nearby. The place might have a whimsical, Irish-sounding name, like “Winsey”. 

367M: Person who eats along with story they read (Solved!)

I think this might have been a short story published in Cricket Magazine in the 1980s – early 90s, perhaps with Quentin Blake illustrations? It was a short story that told about a reader that had a voracious appetite for books AND for any food that was mentioned in the books they read. If the character in a book was drinking tea, the reader had to have tea, and so on.
The memory of this story has plagued me for years, I’d love very much to read it again.

367C: When the Sweets Come Alive

I remember this book from childhood, where on one page there is this bakery where it is either run by a witch or vampire and the treats are alive. Like the devil dog cakes are actual devil dogs with a tail and wings. The lady fingers are actual fingers. It was cute and cartoony and these treats were all in a glass case like a real bakery. It was definitely an elementary book like a beginner book. I must have been reading it in the 1990’s. I can’t recall the overall theme of the book but vividly remember this particular page. I think the overall theme must be fantastical or magical, maybe Halloween but I can’t remember a title or author. Please help me.

366D: Anthropomorphic pastels at a cafe

I am looking for a children’s book that I remember, featuring anthropomorphic oil pastels or chalks as characters, set in a cafe or restaurant where they spent time. It was somewhere between a “picture book” and a “chapter book” in terms of length and balance of illustrations vs. text — some pictures but mostly text, I think. In fact, I wouldn’t swear that it was intended for children, but it was appropriate and comprehensible to an elementary school student. The tone was somewhat serious and melancholic, with bohemian themes. The cafe may have closed or changed hands, or a character may have stopped coming or left town. It would have been published before 2002.

364O: Mr. & Mrs. Bumper books?

In the early/mid 80s I read a series of books I referred to as the Mr. Bumper books. No clue what the plot was, just that the main characters were an adorable plump elderly couple with round glasses who gardened. I probably have the name of the character wrong but it was something like Bumper or Bumpus. Pretty sure they were illustrated hardcover books with large chunks of text. Early readers. Any ideas?

358M: Children’s book on a boy and too many cats

I’m hoping you can help us find this book we read to my daughters when they were young in the late 1990s, early 2000s:
The book is either a picture book or a beginning readers book about a boy who loses his cat, and decides to put “wanted” posters up around his neighborhood. But he forgets to put a picture of his cat on the poster, and neighbors bring all sorts of cats of every variety to his house and his home fills up with cats. There are lovely illustrations of the different kinds of cats. We can’t remember the author, illustrator, or the title, so this might be a challenge for you.

357C: 70s Purple Dragon (Solved!)

I was in elementary school in the 70s and I remember reading what I think was an early chapter book series with a boy and his purple dragon/dinosaur/monster. The illustrations in my memory were very minimalist and had a Quentin Blake feel to them but I’ve researched Quentin Blake’s work and don’t see it listed. The dragon/dinosaur/monster was very tall, definitely purple, and walked on two legs. I have a vivid memory of the boy riding on its shoulders. I don’t remember anything about the plot except they seemed somewhat surreal (maybe?) so I don’t know if the creature was real or imaginary. It’s possible the series was school literature only (not mass market published).