Favorite Childhood Books No One Else Knew (Picture Book Edition)

Elizabeth Bluemle - March 17, 2010

You know those obscure picture books you read as a child over and over again? The ones that delighted or haunted you, that stayed with you over the years, that helped form you as a person—but that no one else has ever heard of? It’s a little weird and a little cool, as though maybe ten copies were ever printed and you were the only person outside the author’s family who managed to find one. Over the years, I’ve managed to save and/or collect most of these books, and occasionally I’ll pull them down from the shelves and enjoy my Proust’s madeleine experience and go back in time.
Princesses TressesOne of my favorite no-one-else books was Princesses’ Tresses by Luciana Roselli. This book was an early 70’s confection of (three?)-color art in sherbet hues, drawn with a fanciful, sentimental line. The story was simple, about a little girl with very short hair who yearned for long princess hair, oodles and miles and spaghetti swirls of it — until she realized how much of a pain that much hair would actually be, and she settles for trusting that her hair will grow to a pretty, manageable length and will be just fine and dandy, thank you. Why did I love this book so very much? I can’t even begin to tell you. Perhaps it was partly the fact that my mother gave it to me especially because of my very thick, impossible hair, and partly that the little girl’s name was Elisabeth (that elegant variation of my own very common name). I know it had something to do with the images that went with phrases like, ‘It would take seven handmaidens to wash it, seven suns to dry it…’ [paraphrased; I can’t find my beloved copy]. I was entranced by the improbably elaborate hairdos necessary to contain all that mass: for instance, hair parted and braided and fashioned into, say, a large garden trellis. The consequences of incredible tresses became increasingly absurd, ending, I think, with a prince or two getting lost in there. (Put Dr. Freud back on the shelf; this book was too sprightly to have engaged in metaphor.)
The writing was actually lyrical, but it was also simple and clear and comfortingly matter-of-fact, like a good fairy tale. I don’t know how and where my mother found that book, and I’m sure she never would have imagined I’d read it almost as often as I read Where the Wild Things Are, but there you are. In all my years of loving and living with books, I’ve never met another person familiar with that one.
Minnie the Mump
Herman German MeasleMinnie the Mump and Other Stories by Paul Tripp. This 1960 book about health and doctors’ visits and illnesses for kids was published by a drug company, of all things: Ross Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio. Its full title, in fact, is preceded by “The Vi_Daylin® book of….” Turns out that Vi-Daylin® was “the Ross Laboratories brand of vitamin supplement.” What I loved about this book were the illustrations: personified illnesses like CLARA the COLD, CHARLIE CHICKEN POX, HERMAN GERMAN MEASLES, MOLLY MEASLES, SCARLET FEVER (“She is a STREPTOCOCCUS which is not a nice thing to be”). They were suitably nasty creatures, but in a friendly sort of way — not an easy duality to carry off. Do you know it wasn’t until I pulled this one from the shelf tonight that I realized the artist was Trina Hyman (no Schart back then)?! No wonder I loved the illustrations!
Tiger FlowerTiger Flower detail yellowTiger Flower detail redI’ve always loved miniature things, so when my mother brought home a book featuring a tiny tiger nestled in flowers, I was enchanted. Tiger Flower, “a tale by Robert Vavra around paintings by Fleur Cowles with a preface by Yehudi Menuhin,” was an odd book that didn’t tell a story so much as present a lot of lovely paintings of a topsy-turvy natural world where mushrooms were the size of trees and lions and tigers balanced on blades of grass, no longer hunting zebras but, rather, flowers for bouquets. I’ve never met anyone else who encountered it as a child, and in fact, it’s the kind of arty, slightly distant book that perhaps has more adult than child appeal. (I’ll bet my mom found it at an art gallery or museum in Phoenix somewhere.) Still, though I didn’t connect strongly to the words, the idea of a miniature tiger—a tiger small enough to run around in the palm of my hand, or to be blanketed by a rose petal—brought me back again and again to the pages of that book.
Arm in Arm
Arm in Arm by Remy Charlip might have been written just for me: a child who got lost in funny words and skewed ideas and pictures that asked questions. An unorthodox picture book, it was a collection of jokes and wordplay and skits and mini-stories poetry and very-1970s doodly playful rainbow-colored illustrations and hand-lettered text that spiraled around in shapes to follow along the page. Arm in Arm pageThe subtitle alone was delicious: A Collection of Connections, Endless Tales, Reiterations, and Other Echolalia. (Try getting THAT past Acquisitions today.) It was the very essence of imaginative art, full of funny little touches and bright spirit. It even sneaked in some  philosophy. I can’t tell you the number of hours I spent inside this book, pondering the concepts and poring over the art, the fine lines and miniature drawings and bursts of color. Incidentally, Arm in Arm also gave me my favorite childhood joke: “Ask me if I’m a boat.” “Are you a boat?” “Yes. Now ask me if I’m an airplane.” “Are you an airplane?” “No, silly, I’m a boat.” I still have my old copy, inscribed by my mom in 1973: “…a silly fun book because you are fun to be silly with.” (Inscriptions are practically a lost art, and I miss them.) Although Remy Charlip wasn’t and isn’t an obscure author, I was the only kid I knew who had that book. It was unique in format and freedom, and it was a touchstone for me.
Magic Friend MakerAnother no-one-else picture book was The Magic Friend Maker by Gladys Baker Bond, illustrated by Stina Nagel. It’s the story of Beth, a shy “one-girl,”an only child with no best friend. Then she meets Jean, a new girl in the neighborhood who befriends Beth by showing her a special, egg-sized rock. I loved that rock and its mysterious colors: “It looked very old. Its brownness was streaked with one color that looked like rust on old iron, and another color that looked like a policeman’s coat on a smoggy morning.” It  turns wonderful colors when submerged in water, “… like melted candy, streaked with red, yellow, and shadowy blue.” Brought together by the stone, two girls become best best best best friends. Rock in HandBut all good things must come to an end, and one day, Jean announces she has to move. Beth is despondent, but then a new girl moves in, and Beth — I know this will shock you — befriends her with the rock Jean gave to Beth as she was leaving. “It was just a rock until it was shared. Then it became a magic friend-maker.” I don’t know why I liked this simple story so much. I wasn’t a “one-girl;” I had a sibling and little friends to play with. But man, I loved that rock. I still gather a stone or two when visiting a new place, or going back to an old one, and I know that my habit of rinsing stones to see what they look like wet is due to The Magic Friend Maker.
Want to Touch My Rock?Recently, my entire understanding of this book was called into question by a friend who facetiously found a wildly lesbian subtext in the friendship; she quoted lines like “Touch it …. My rock gets warm when you hold it,” with an exaggerated leer, making me both laugh hysterically and hate her a teeny bit for forever besmirching my inner five-year-old’s delight at the friendly faces, innocent hand-holding, and happy teeter-totters, wild swings, and cute sparrows in the park. “Want to touch my rock?” It’ll never be the same.
This is why perhaps some of these no-one-else books deserve their place in solo memory, so you can keep your rocks rocks and your cigars cigars. But in case you want to share, I’m really curious: what are YOUR no-one-else books?

100 thoughts on “Favorite Childhood Books No One Else Knew (Picture Book Edition)

  1. Lauri

    The Big Book of Make Believe! How could anyone ever forget Bad Mousie, Georgie the Ghost, or The Very Awful Day when Peter pulled Rosa under the door to see the clock he took apart to make a Victrola. For lunch Peter had to cook the peas which were round, and Rosa the steak which was flat, just like she was (aving been pulled under the door. LOVED IT! I recently found out it was still in print and bought copies for my brother and sister, since I have the original–somewhere.

  2. Deborah Shine

    Dear Elizabeth, I hand sold Tiger Flower and Arm in Arm when I ran my book shop, The Owl and the Pussycat, Children’s Bookshop, in Lexington KY. (estb. 1968). My youngest daughter still has he copy of Tiger Flower, while I have the copy of Arm in Arm, that had belonged to my second daughter. I loved those books.

  3. Nicole Geiger

    Hi Elizabeth, I don’t mean to introduce commercialism to your wonderful post…but Arm in Arm is still available. Tricycle Press reprinted it in 1997, and we’re bringing it out in paperback in September. We’d love to keep it alive forever.

  4. Hayley Gonnason

    It’s so great to hear how much you loved Arm in Arm! Not sure if you’re aware, but it’s coming out this September in a new paperback edition! I’ll have to send you and advance!

  5. shelftalker elizabeth

    Yes! Thanks for mentioning that! I knew Arm in Arm had been brought back, but somehow thought it went OP again. So glad to hear it hasn’t! (I miss the original white cover, but the new one still has Remy C’s stamp, so I’m trying to adjust.) : )

  6. Melinda

    The Princesses’ Tresses is my favorite picture book of all time. When I read the title of your blog posting it was the first book that sprung to my mind. Imagine my delight and surprise seeing it as the first book you mentioned. I don’t even know if my copy had a dustjacket. My mother found it in a sale book bin (she thinks) when she bought it for me because Elizabeth and her short hair that she wanted to be long flowing tresses was very similar to her daughter at home. To this day when I want a “hug” from a special book this is the first one I go to. Thank you for sharing it with everyone.

  7. Nikki

    SOCKS FOR SUPPER by Jack Kent. I loved it to pieces, then my little brother loved it to pieces! Our family copy is held together with tape:)

  8. Miriam

    The Forbidden Door! The art, I swoon over the detailed fantasy paintings: the door hidden behind a tapestry of a door, the vines creeping up to capture the girl while she sleeps, the villain’s knitting. Just awesome.
    My sister claimed the family copy years ago, darn her, but recently made my month when she stumbled across a copy at a yard sale (the cover lovingly embellished by some other little girl with a penchant for stickers but the interior untouched) and sent it to me to be my very own copy, bless her. (I have removed the stickers.
    Honorable mentions include Angel Child, Dragon Child and How My Parents Learned to Eat. How does the world not know and love these books?!

  9. JennyW

    WOW! I had a copy of ‘Arm in Arm’ when I was 5 or 6. I have very fond memories of that book and have often thought I would love to have a copy. So glad I clicked on your link and rediscovered it.

  10. Liz

    The Peculiar Miss Pickett by Nancy Julian, published in 1951. Miss Pickett was a babysitter with magical glasses that let her charges see amazing things. I read that over and over as a kid!

  11. Becky

    When we were children, my sisters and I used to pester all our relatives and visitors with things we learned from Arm in Arm. “Pete and Repete were sitting on a fence. Pete fell off. Who was left?” “Repete.” “Pete and Repete were…”

  12. Jill Barton

    I’m not sure if this really is a no-one-else, but none of my kid’s books colleagues have ever heard of it…Ingrid Our Turtle by Peter Lippman. As a child I just loved the idea of being able to see the world like Ingrid did, and her journey started with just one slow step 🙂

  13. April

    The Marvelous Mud Washing Machine! My sister hunted it down again recently for me and now I have a beautiful copy of my own.
    I loved this book as a kid because of the fanciful machine.

  14. Suzy

    For me it was 2010: Living in the Future by Geoffrey Hoyle. My kindergarten self obsessed over it. And I took it out of the school library as often as I was allowed to do so. It was so much fun to imagine that far off year back in the mid-70s. Thankfully the author was wrong about one thing–we’re not all wearing jumpsuits.

  15. Pete C

    My family used to have a book called “Thin Arnold” that was passed down from one to the next. Sadly, it was a little paperback that couldn’t stand up to five kids’ worth of reading (literally “loved to pieces”). I didn’t even realize it wasn’t common knowledge until I searched for it online and found only two references, one of which was someone complaining about how he couldn’t find a copy anywhere.

  16. Masha

    “Hamburgers and Ice Cream for Dessert” by Eleanor Lowenton Clymer. Two families stranded on an island learn there are other things to eat than “hamburgers, mashed potatoes and peas, and ice cream for dessert.” It took me years to track down a copy.

  17. Laura Grafton

    The Big Book of Make Believe! I was sitting here trying to remember the name and someone else knows it!!! I’m still haunted by the concept of Rosa the flat child! And the shape of the book – long and skinny – was part of the charm. Definitely need copies for the nieces and nephews.

  18. K-E

    The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books! I think it’s a Seattle regional thing, since Betty McDonald (of The Egg and I fame) lived out here – but the adaptations were performed at the Seattle Children’s Theater for years. I suppose they’re not picture books, but they’re so fun to read aloud.

  19. Vicki

    Andrew Henry’s Meadow by Doris Burn. Andrew Heny likes to invent things, and everyone else sees him as a nuisance & a bother. So he goes to a meadow and builds a house, and all the other misunderstood children end up there as well. He builds them houses suited for their hobby (birdwatching, dress-up, tuba practise); and then everyone misses them and discovers the meadow, & at the end everyone is loved & appreciated the way they should be. I’ve NEVER found anyone who knows this book outside of my immediate family, and it’s wonderful!!

  20. Zephyrine

    First, “Ola,” by the Parin d’Aulaires, with magical illustrations of a boy in the snow in Lapland. And, because I loved Indians, I remember fondly “Little Wolf and the Thunder Stick” and “Young Hawk,” which no one else knows because no one else liked to read Indian stories!

  21. Ann

    At my house we all loved A Surprise for Mrs. Bunny by Charlotte Steiner. It is the sweet story of all the little bunnies working valiantly to paint different colored eggs for Mama’s Easter basket (the colors were extremely vivid for as early as this book was). Except for poor littlest bunny who fell asleep, and ended up giving Mama a gorgeous WHITE egg, which she loved just as much as all the others. We also were attached to her Kiki books; I especially appreciated Kiki and Muff. What fun to think of these old friends!

  22. Annie Gottlieb

    There is nothing like that wordless magical feeling associated with the illustrations in certain children’s books. I think it’s formative of our imaginations and our very identity. One of mine was Goodenough Gismo, by Disney’s art director Dick Kelsey, which I managed to find and, after a copyright search, scan onto my personal blog, AmbivaBlog (I can’t put a link here, but you can Google it and find the link in the upper left-hand corner). Another was a book about animal camouflage, with marvelous woodcut illustrations of a frog on a log and other things — I have been unable to remember the name of this one or to find it.

  23. Carol

    Mabel the Whale was not my favorite book but my little brother’s. I was 9 when he was born and read that book over and over and over to him. I found a copy among our library’s donations and scooped it up! I gave it to him for Christmas and told his children that this was his favorite book when he was a toddler. He is now 52 years old.

  24. Cynthia @ 4 Kids Books

    Angelo and Rosaline, by Bettina. Published in the late ’50’s, about a little girl who befriends an angel statue in the museum garden. The statue comes to life – I still think this is why I married the “silent” type.

  25. Maria

    I read Minnie the Mump and other Stories many times! I think one of my sisters has the family copy, or it might still be at my parents’ house. I love reading old, familiar books to my nieces and nephews. I’m trying to remember some of the other obscure ones. Now I want to go back and read them.

  26. Connie Rockman

    Vicki – You are not the only one. I read Andrew Henry’s Meadow to my kids over and over – we loved it! And, according to Amazon, there was a 40th anniversary edition in 2005. Our copy (years ago) was from the Weekly Reader Book Club. We also loved another Doris Burn book, The Summerfolk, with a passion. … and We Were Tired of Living in a House that was illustrated by Doris Burn, but written by someone else. All her books were done in pen and ink. A more recent edition of We Were Tired … was re-illustrated in full color by another artist and just wasn’t the same.

  27. Sue Douglass Fliess

    Two of my lesser known favorites were 1. Creole, the story of an ugly creature with a big heart, outcast because of her appearance, and 2. The Adventures of the Three Colors – which was a play on colors. You turn the cellophane pages to reveal things (mostly animals) that could only be seen when up against another color. My two boys now have them both and read them often!

  28. Amy

    Lizzie the Lost Toy Witch by Wendy Watson, Weekly Reader edition, when I went to interview for my first job out of college my soon to be boss had it on her shelf- I took that as a good omen Also the Provensen’s Golden Books version of Stevenson’s Child’s Garden of Verses-not strictly a picture book but was read at the same time.

  29. Julie C.

    Our family loved a picture book called I Can’t, Said the Ant, by Polly Cameron. We still occasionally quote some of the rhymes (“What’s all the clatter?” asked the platter. “Teapot fell,” said the dinner bell. “Teapot broke,” said the artichoke. As kids we’d get the giggles over this book, and my nephew now likes it. We have a very battered, faded paperback copy.
    I also loved Sugar Mouse Cake, by Gene Zion (I liked the illustrations), and Lengthy (about a dachshund so long he could stretch around a house) by Syd Hoff. These were my “go-to” books in the local and school libraries!
    When I got older I loved several books by Jane Flory (Faraway Dream, Clancy’s Glorious Fourth, 108 Bells, and Ramshackle Roost, all chapter books, and no one else I knew read them), and Runaway Home by British author Elinor Lyon, about an orphan named Cathie who runs away from her orphanage to Scotland to try to find out about her family, and hooks up with 2 Scottish children named Ian & Sovra. Read them over and over. I often wonder why there are so many kidlit books I have never read, and I think it was because I was too busy rereading.

  30. Shellie

    I loved Tiger Flower!! My two favorite books were “Miss Twiggley’s Treehouse” which was about a woman so shy she lived in a treehouse. (Her dog did all the shopping in town.) And “Just only John” about a boy that swallows a penny spell and becomes anything anyone said to him. They were part of the Parent’s Choice series in the early 70’s. Trying to find one online was rather expensive. So I felt truly blessed when I found almost the entire set, including my two favorites, at an estate sale for fiver dollars!

  31. Ceci Miller

    So great to know Arm in Arm will be available in paperback again. It looks wonderful, and I missed it the first time around 🙂 My all-time favorite was Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather, a nonsensical Golden Book, written and with fabulous illustrations by Dorothy Kunhardt. Alas, if you want a copy today, it’ll set you back between $25 and $170 US, depending on its condition. Love this book; I read it again whenever I visit my mom, who kept it, bless her!

  32. Bonnie in San Francisco

    My original copy of Magic Friend Maker is on my shelf at home. And yes, I too collect rocks and look at them when they’re wet because of it! A couple more to add to the list: Fortunately (1964) by Remy Charlip and Sam, Bangs

  33. Thomas

    The Silly Book by Stu Hample.
    After 30 (or more years) it came back in print a couple of years ago. I sold the heck out of it for the duration of the blink of an eye it was re-released for.
    It’s a silly book. really just covered it. a dream come true for any child, classroom or family that likes to giggle… everybody else probably didn’t appreciate it.

  34. AmyK

    A favorite book in our house was “Bad Mousie” by Martha Dudley. When Mousie proves to be too naughty to handle, Mommy (Mousie lives with Mommy and her daughter Donnie) tries several methods to snuff out Mousie including gluing him in a box and throwing him in a bathtub of water, tying him up and leaving him out for the night owl to gobble him up, and tying him to an umbrella and letting the wind carry him away. So awfully good!

  35. Cameron

    Kingcup Cottage! This is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching book with a sweet happy ending. Francesca the Frog moves to a new lily pad among the kingcups and invites all of her neighbors to a party…but no one comes! I knew every word by heart as a child, and now read it to my little boy. I still get choked up when Francesca’s jellies melt. All time favorite!

  36. susan savory

    Remy Charlip, Remy Charlip, Remy Charlip!
    How I loved Remy Charlip…and all these years I’ve been thinking I was the only one. I loved the delicately drawn, sweetly colored little pictures and all the unorthodox blank white space. Charlip’s books appeared in my life at the same time as Cooper Edens’ bizarre and magical little picture books and I loved them equally, for all the same reasons. Thanks, Elizabeth, for reminding me!

  37. shelftalker elizabeth

    I can’t believe two of you know The Magic Friend Maker. And that one of you read Minnie the Mump. That blows my mind. And — Ramshackle Roost! Hold that thought for the Chapter Book Edition of this post, coming soon. (Mr. Pudgins fans, ahoy!)

  38. Gail Faughn

    Just a few weeks ago my 30’s daughter asked me to search the closet in her room for “The Peculiar Miss Pickett” and send it to her. I couldn’t remember the book until I saw the cover — then recalled having it in our school media center. I don’t recall ever reading it, but apparently it was one of my daughter’s all-time favorites. (I read it before mailing it to her!)

  39. Mary

    I remember a book of black and white photos called BUTTONS AND BOWS in which 2 paper dolls had all sorts of adventures. No one has ever heard of this book, but I adored it. I also loved SCAT, SCAT, GO AWAY LITTLE CAT which was reissued in the 70’s — a sweet white kitten is chased away by many grumpy people but is finally given a home by a little girl.

    1. lise

      Wow, you are the first person I’ve met who remembers the book Scat, Scat, Go Away Little Cat. I was a very little girl in the early 60s when my parents read me that book. What a delight to find someone who remembers it.

  40. Jeannine

    It’s not completely obscure, but I probably read “The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash” like 100 times. I looooooved that book, and most of the other Steven Kellogg books like “Pinkerton Behave” and “The Mysterious Tadpole”, the illustrations are so fun and cute, and I would find something new everytime.

  41. Kelly

    Loved The Magic Friend Maker. Your friend needs to learn not everything has subtext. I loved a book called The Little Red Caboose That Ran Away. I knew the story by heart.

  42. Freeman Ng

    Children in Hiding is still my favorite story about kids fending for themselves — yes, even over My Side of the Mountain and The Mixed Up Files… — despite a somewhat dated racial framework. (Which might actually have been considered advanced at the time.)

  43. Jess

    I probably checkout out “The Fire Cat” by Esther Averill from my local library over twenty consecutive times when I was first learning how to read. I loved the idea that a cat could work as a firefighter, and because this cat had big paws, “he could do big things.” No matter how many times I borrowed it from the library, I never bought it because the fact that it was on loan made it even more special!

  44. lizaw

    One of my favorites, and it must have belonged to my parents, was Walter the Lazy Mouse by Marjorie Flack. Another was Ant and Bee and the Doctor, by Angela Banner.

  45. Carin

    I loved a book called Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine that I just found (and bought) used last month. I also for years loved a book called The Man Who Lost His HEad and I knew it was illustrated by Robert McCloskey but in the last 10 years dozens of book people told me I was crazy – there was no such book. But it just was reissued in November! Yay! Both glad to be right and glad to see it back in print. 9781590173329

  46. Rita

    One of my favorite childhood books no one else knew was “Max the Market Mouse by Robert Hass (1975). The story is about a mouse family that lives in Mr. Shultz’s market. I remember the picture of Max and his brother’s bunk beds were made out of match boxes. Max’s parents had two rules “Never go out during the day, and never leave any traces”. Max however get brave and ventures out during the day.

  47. Elizabeth P

    I loved Ladybird book’s Discontented Pony. It’s about a bored farm pony who runs away with the circus. The artist evoked a wonderful sunny pre-war world and I made my mum read it until she wanted to scream. I still love it and treasure it.
    No-one in my deprived little town knew about it but I have found many fans of it on the internet. Please google it and find the beautiful pictures for yourself….

  48. Camille DeBoer

    Thy Friend, Obadiah by Brinton Turkle, Henry the Explorer by Mark Taylor, Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty, and Do You Know What I’ll Do by Charlotte Zolotow with the Garth Williams illustrations were my constant reads 35 years ago.
    Andrew Henry’s Meadow was brought to my attention after I named a child Andrew Henry. It’s a fabulous read and is very much available to your local bookshops. Just Ask!

  49. Diane Guscott

    I loved a book called “Upsey, Downsy Land” about little creatures, some of which walk on their feet and others who walk on their hands. I believe it was put out by Mattel. I still have it though it is a little crewed from one of our dogs.

  50. Jessica Leader

    I WANT TO RUN AWAY, by Joan Hanson, published by Platt and Munk (who?) Little boy, outraged at the terrible injustices of his life, packs to run away from home–only to realize that he is taking everything with him. Rather existential, actually!
    I also laugh to find the gayish subtext in childhood favorites, though there’s a cringe factor, too. And then there’s the delightfully titled SOMETHING QUEER AT THE LIBRARY series, which is just begging for some kind of campy cabaret re-enactment.

  51. Charlotte

    What a great thread! My favorite picture book was “The Smartest Bear and his Brother Oliver” by Alice Bach and a young Steven Kellogg from 1975. The world of those twin bears and their feasting parents enchanted me. I read my paperback until it was in tatters and 30 years later got a hardcover first edition which Mr. Kellogg signed. What a treasure.

  52. Bina

    “Born at sea in the teeth of a gale, the sailor was a dog, and Scuppers was his name.” So starts the Sailor Dog by Margaret Wise Brown, illus by Garth Williams. A family fav. and when I gave a copy to my then fortyish brother, he actually had a tear in his usually cynical eye.
    Cheerful by Palmer Brown, a small in size book about a mouse who gets lost in a white sugar Easter Egg. Another huge favorite is Friendship Valley by Wolo about a group of animals who flee a forest fire on a raft made from the door to one of their homes. Mr. Meedlepoo the frog is a great name. A lost kitten joins them with one bicky berry blue mitten. Peter the Pack Rat eventually finds her mother who has the other mitten. The animals build a great little “village” in a huge old tree and in its roots. Loved it! Lasrly Percy, Polly and Pete by Claire Bishop (I think) about three little kittens.

  53. Mary Quattlebaum

    I *loved* reading about everyone’s favorites. I loved Jane’s Blanket (playwright Henry Miller’s only children’s book) but my whole family (7 kids) loved The Little Brute Family and The Stone Doll of Sister Brute (both by Russell Hoban). And I also love this little gem of a quiet book, Bear By Himself by Geoffrey Hayes (with restful black-and-white-and-greenish illustrations). A smaller, shorter versions with colored pics came out in 1998 but all the colors seem to work against the quiet, reflective tone of the text.

  54. Kandy

    Andrew Henry’s Meadow was a favorite of mine! I spent hours looking at the illustrations and trying to decide which house I liked best. It is in print again, and I was able to buy a shiny new copy for my son.

  55. Carola

    I had two “Tall Books” but not the one of Make Believe…think they were the Tall Book of Nursery Tales and the Tall Book of Mother Goose. The illustrations were rather scary in a way but I remember reading them over and over–at that age they seemed filled with so much in the way of both stories and pictures.

    1. Shelley Sutherland

      Ohmigosh the TallBook of Make Believe was magic to me. I still have a beaten up copy that I read to my kids. Also the King’s Wish by Benjamin Elkin. He was the principal at Rogers School where I spent my first 9 years of school. A fellow librarian unearthed a copy of that in her house and gave it to me just a few weeks ago!

  56. Cindy

    The Large and Growly Bear by Gertrude Crampton, ilustrated by J.P. Miller (Golden Books, 1961). It was the first book I could read by myself. It’s about a bear who wants to scare someone with his growl (a fun-to-say “Grrrrr”), but the animals in the forest are not impressed. I read it to my kindergarten teacher, who was so impressed that I could read with expression (it was that Grrrrr!) that she promoted me to the first grade halfway through the year. Thanks to this blog, I just looked it up and found it reprinted in its entirety on a blog called goldengems.blogspot.com. It’s just as wonderful as I remembered!

  57. shelftalker elizabeth

    Oh my gosh, what a cute book! I just read The Large and Growly Bear by J.P. Miller to Josie and we loved it. A perfect picture book — lots of repetition, some lovely language that isn’t at all precious, humor, a good twist and a satisfying ending. So glad you mentioned it. I’m not sure how I feel about reproducing entire books online, even OP ones; but I love getting the chance to read and share them. I wonder how to reconcile this.

  58. Tamar

    The Fire Cat is still a Harper I Can Read title. My favorite was the wonderfully absurd There is a Dragon in My Bed and Other Useful Phrases in French and English. It was by Sesyle Joslin, illustrated by Irene Haas.

  59. Erica S. Perl

    LOVED Arm in Arm (note Pete and Repete reference in my new book, DOTTY). Another favorite “forgotten” book is The Sheep of the Lal Bagh, by David Mark, illustrated by Lionel Khalish. I’m happy to say that it is enjoying a renaissance in our house. It is, IMHO, a perfect picture book.

  60. Bonnie

    A Big Ball of String by Marian Holland
    After reading this delightful book, I began collecting string. I didn’t even come close to making a big ball of string.

  61. Elisa Roselli

    I am very moved to hear that you loved PRINCESSES’ TRESSES. It was written and illustrated by my mother, and I was the little girl in the story!
    I desperately wanted long hair, but when I was about 5 or so and trying to grow it, a nasty uncle cut a great chunk of it off. That was his idea of a joke. They had to cut the rest of my hair to even it up and I think it was one of the great traumatic experiences of my childhood. My mother wrote the book to comfort me. A year earlier, she had written a book called THE POLKA DOT CHILD to help me deal with the experience of chicken pox!
    You’re wrong about the date though. It was 1963. My mother was well ahead of her time and it’s not surprising that you estimate the style of her drawing at a decade later than it was.
    She had an international career as an illustrator and designer and died in 1986. The full collection of her works was bequeathed to the Centro Studi e Archivio della Communicazione in Parma,Italy.

    1. Di

      Hi Elisa:
      Thanks for sharing about your mother’s kind-hearted and loving gesture toward a traumatized daughter. I appreciate knowing what happened to her, and where her work is now located. What great memories.

  62. Shelftalker Elizabeth

    Elisa! What an incredible delight to come across your comment this morning. I never imagined as a little girl that the Elisabeth from my beloved book would someday come to life and say hello when I was grown up. That’s the true magic of the internet.
    I’m sorry to have gotten the publication date wrong; your mother certainly was ahead of her time! And that uncle — I hope he has apologized profusely since then. TERRIBLE joke to play on a girl.
    Perhaps someday I’ll have an excuse to go to Parma for a longer look at your mother’s artwork. I’ll go in search of THE POLKA DOT CHILD, as well. Thank you so much for writing!
    Note: the book covers seem to have vanished from this post during the PW switchover. I’ll try to fix that this weekend.

  63. Pingback: A Surprise Blast from the Past « Shelf Talker

  64. Brooke

    I just came across your post searching for Princesses Tresses and found it weird that my 2 favourite childhood books are listed here – Princesses Tresses and The Magic Friend Maker. Unfortunately I only have my copy of The Magic Friend Maker and not the other.

      1. kate

        i just found this post/comment after googling “the princesses’ tresses”. it was my very favorite book growing up, and i was hoping to find an affordable copy for my niece. i still have my copy of it AND my copy of “the magic friend maker”, another favorite. i didn’t think anyone else ever heard of those books! thanks for posting and commenting, ladies 🙂

  65. Michelle

    I have been looking for others who loved or even knew Scat, Scat, Go, Away little cat. It was the first book I ever read by myself and even the first book I printed my name in! My mother had saved it for me but unfortunately she had a house fire and it was lost. I am still trying to find another copy! It is so nice to know other people remember and loved that book as well!

    1. Amy

      I love that book! My mother actually named me after the little girl in the original story, so it was natural that she would read it to me over and over again. I’m so sorry to hear that your copy of it was lost. I hope you’re able to find another to read to your little ones.

      1. Kiersten

        I have this book! It is one of my all-time favorites. I love the pictures of the cat when she gets dirty, the iced layer cake, and the pigtails on Rosie Runabout! I have no idea where to get another copy but I will keep an eye out.

    2. maureen

      I also have fond memories of sitting with my mother while she read Scat, Scat…. Our book was blue fabric with a paper color picture on the cover and the book’s pages were folded over and “slick”, so it was a feast of visual, audible and tactile comfort. How nice to hear others shared in that lovely experience.

      1. Jon

        I also still have the “Scat, Scat” book. I think it was probably my first book as a kid, and it was old then. (I am in my mid-40s!)

        1. Holly T.

          I, too, had “Scat Scat, Go Away Little Cat!” I was hoping to find the book through a google search when I stumbled upon this site. Does anyone remember the Sweet Pickles books?

    3. Anna

      OMG! SCAT SCAT….. Go Away Little Cat! I won this book for my homemade costume at my elementary school party, held in the gym on Halloween night. I was 4 years old, & in kindergarten. The year was 1953. It was my very 1st book ever, & it was read to me by my mother, but I quickly learned it, & read it over & over a kazillion times, until I wore it out. Mine was a medium green, hardcover. How I loved this book, & wish could find a copy too!

      1. Susan

        I loved that book, my great grandmother had it and it was by far my favorite book. I don’t know what ever happened to it but I’d love to have a copy and so far have been unsuccessful in finding it.

  66. Danielle

    I also loved The Magic Friend Maker. I only came across your message as I googled the title, to see if I could get another copy. I have 3 sisters and I have the only copy that I smuggled away from my parents house so I could read it to my two little girls!
    I read it to my class of 5 year olds too once and brought in a special rock of mine to share with them. Something about this book really moved me as a child and looking at the pictures takes me back to myself as a little girl!
    Another story I always loved was out of a book of collected stories called Modern Fairy stories – Princess Nobody was my favourite one. My sister nabbed the family copy of that so I will have to google that next. The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde always made me cry as I read it. This one of course is easy to find!

  67. DeeDee

    I, too, loved Princesses Tresses. Recently, I won an ebay auction for that book! I never owned one before. In 2nd through 5th grade, I must have checked it out every week because each year when the Librarian saw that I filled up the ‘sign out’ card with my own name, week after week, she told me I needed to give someone else a chance to read it. I was devastated, but eventually grew out of wanting to read it daily. I remember telling my daughter about it and looking for it at the public library, to no avail. Now my daughter is 24, and I can’t wait to show her my book!
    As SOON as I got the book, dust jacket and all, I was transported to that time of my life where the idea of long, beautiful hair and princesses and princes getting married was paramount!

  68. Toyia Martin

    I loved the bookl Scat, Scat by Sally R. Francis . I read it many times as a child. I can remember the soft feel of the pages of the book. There were two pages together but they made a sleeve in the middle. I always felt sorry for the poor kitty, yet elated at the end when it was found by it ‘s new owner at the end. I would just preceed to read it over again. I believe the book was given to me as a Christmas gift during my childhood in the early 60’s. I did find the book on-line at cost ranging from $40.00 or more. I really wanted to get some pictures images, which I am still in the process of doing. Just the picture of the cover caused me to light up with joy and remember the line of the story that went something like “from the top of his head to head or his nose down to h is pink little toes” or ” from his pink little nose to his pink little toes”. I did love that book. The picture images are still burned in my head. The cat running in and the lady with the broom, the girl finding him sleeping in the window flowerbed. I really adorned this book. I hope to purchase one of the better “upkept” ones on line in the near future.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share.

    1. Gail Boshart

      I don’t know if it is the same book, but I thought it was kind of pink on the outside cover with a lady with a broom kind of brushing the kitty away.
      I really don’t even remember the story now I am 75. But I wanted to find it for my great grand kids.
      I did not know the author and am trying to find copies of it. That was my favorite one that I remember.
      I sure would love to hear if it was the same one.
      Thanks so much.
      Gail Boshart
      Seattle WA


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