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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?

301H: A beaver who doesn’t want to die

This was a story about a young beaver who doesn’t want to die. He encounters a fairy who grants him the wish of immortality but as is characteristic of beavers, he keeps growing through his extended lifespan, loses his friends and family members and outgrows his environment. The denouement escapes me but the essence is his coming to terms with mortality. I hope you can help find it!

301G: Your typical high school romance

I read this book in the early 1970s, I’m assuming it came from the 1960s. I don’t know the name of the book nor the publisher. But it was your typical high school romance of the time, where the popular boy in school falls for the less popular girl and her name was Beth.

Obviously the book resonated with me  at the time because my name is Beth I would have read it around the age of 10 to 13.  I always wondered if I could find the book and reread it is an adult what would I think of it.

301F: Walled-off site of painful memories

Around 1995, when I was around 11 or so, I read a story as part of a reading program at the Hennepin County public library in Maple Grove, Minnesota. The following has stayed with me:

  • The main characters are children, probably around 12. They encounter a wall (perhaps a dense hedge) in a woodland near their town. The existence of the wall may be surprise to them, but if not, they know that it is prohibited.
  • One or more kids find a way over the barrier. There is some cause for concern (perhaps the trespassers go silent or else simply have trouble getting back over).
  • During the resolution of the story we learn that the wall/hedge encircles an area that the town had closed-off a generation before. (I envision this area as a garden on a hilltop, but this vision of the landscape may not be grounded in the text.)
  • The children’s parents join them in the isolated area, and rather than being angry with the children for trespassing, they tell the tragic story of why the area was closed. Ultimately the older generation finds some peace from the process of sharing the story and remembering a part of their youth that had been forgotten.

I think the kids had bicycles, but nothing about the story felt particularly immediate, so the publication window could be 1950–1995. I don’t recall there being any pictures, and I think the total reading time was on the order of an hour.

301E: He looks in a mirror and discovers he’s no longer human

This is a science fiction book I read in high school, circa 1986 or 1987, it had already been around since maybe the 50’s or 60’s? It’s about an astronaut or maybe an explorer who I think is stranded or left on an alien planet that he is meant to explore or get ready for humans? He stumbles in to a residence and is grateful because he’s close to death, but quickly discovers everything there is not fit for humans so he really isn’t saved like he hoped. He persists. Time goes by. He uses his knowledge and training to adapt the environment to his human needs. He starts to thrive. He’s accomplishing his mission. He gets ready to contact his group. He discovers a mirror. He looks in to it. He’s no longer human. His environment and its systems didn’t adapt to his needs, he adapted to it. WHAT IS THE NAME OF THIS BOOK?

301D: Bent Arrow, True Arrow

Children’s fiction book I read around 1958. Main character is “Bent Arrow”, a Native American boy with a problem with his leg. He saves his ? uncle from another warring tribe and in doing so, I think, he walked 10 paces then ran 10 paces then ran 10 paces alternating. He is renamed “True Arrow”. I do not remember the title or author.

301C: A boy is dropped off at a “poor house”

The book that I am looking for is as follows:
 
Set in the time of US slavery, this children’s story opens with a very young boy being anonymously dropped off a horse drawn wagon at a the end of the driveway of a rural ‘poor house’ in a northern US state.  It turns out that his slave mother was forced to leave him behind while fleeing her ‘owner’ and the father of her baby as she tried to reach Canada via the underground railroad.

The reader does not have this information at the start of the tale but rather learns this as the story unfolds.  The story follows the little boy who is taken in by the operators of the ‘poor house’, however unwillingly.  In return for lodging he is assigned chores and when old enough goes to school and makes friends.  His closest friend, however, is one of the other residents, a giant male adult with mental health issues that cause him to occasionally become violent, which necessitate that he be kept in a cage in the house so that he will not harm others.  Near the end of the story, this man (perhaps severely afflicted with severe SAD)  is killed in an accident in a rock quarry where he works when mentally able to do so.
 
The little boy is visited by a white man from the south, and eventually comes to understand that this man is not someone with good intentions, in fact he is his father.  He has been pursuing both he and his mother who had managed to escape. I forget all the details of the story, however, the boy does end up safely in Canada

301B: A child in an acorn cap

The book I am looking for is pre-1970, I believe. It is about a grumpy owl who is getting upset with the pixies (?) who are having a party and keeping him awake. Finally, the party is over and it gets quiet. Then he hears crying, and finds a lost child in an acorn cap. I don’t remember much else, but I believe the owl took him back to his family.

301A: The pups get into several cans of paint

Hello! I am so hoping you can help me find an old children's book. Unfortunately I don't have a title....so I know I'm asking a lot.

The description of the book is about two dogs – one big (brown?) dog and one a small (black/multicolored?) dog. The book cover is hardcover, white background with the two dogs on it and several cans of paint. The story is about these two pups getting into several cans of colorful paint, painting paw prints all over the walls (and themselves).

It was my favorite book – I read it over and over as a child. I thought I had saved it but have been unable to find it in my moving boxes from over the years.

Estimated date of the book would be early 1970’s.

300Y: Dramatic in a good way

So I read this book when I was still in elementary school, no older than 12 years old, meaning this book couldn’t have been published after 2003. Sadly, I cannot recall anything about the title or author, only that the cover, if I remember correctly, featured a boy with a lady ghost on his left side, with black and white colors.

So the story is about a school class that somehow ends up lost in a forest during a bad storm, I believe they were all in a school bus for a trip but it crashed. As far as I recall, no one died, but everyone ended up being separated. The story is linear but there are a some flashbacks we get to see while the characters are lost in the woods.

Speaking of characters, these are the people I recall:

  1. A boy whose mother died and the text implies he can see ghosts, including the ghost of his mother; he might have been the protagonist, but I don’t think the book narrated from his point of view often, if at all.
  2. Another boy called Alvin (or at least I think it was Alvin, I distinctly remember being distracted by his name because I always thought of Alvin and the chipmunks, so it’s either that or Theodore or Simon) who was implied to be involved with some shady business people. He had a briefcase that he carried around, though we never get to know what the contents are. If I recall correctly, he owed money (or something else) to these said shady people, and two men in suits are after him and manage to find him while he’s lost in the woods.
  3. The suits, the two men (might have been more though, but I’m nearly certain it was two) that are going after Alvin. The impression I got is that they were trying to kill him.
  4. The class teacher, who was a woman.
  5. An unnamed boy and girl who were part of the class.
And these are the scenes that I remember involving said characters.
  1. The class teacher has a flashback while she’s lost about the boy who can see ghosts, she recalls poems that they wrote in class, and how reading the poem of this one kid worried the teacher because it either implied that he could see ghosts, or that he wanted to die following the death of his mother, or both.
  2. The unnamed boy and girl are ‘regular’ kids who were friends, might have been love interests too, and while lost they have a scene where they reunite and fiercely embrace each other under the rain, I remember thinking the description was very heavy with emotions, even a little dramatic (in a good way though).
  3. Towards the end of the book, Alvin is found by the two suits, and have him cornered under an old/abandoned tunnel. Either that or Alvin tricks them into thinking he went to the tunnel while he hid. Either way, the suits end up meeting with the boy who sees ghosts instead, threaten him, but the ghost of his mom appears and I believe it was implied the ghost got rid of the men, or at least that’s how I understood it.
  4. The next morning (I believe they were lost during nighttime) the whole class reunites, Alvin made it out safe; I remember a classmate asks about his briefcase he always carried around (cause he was so defensive about it) saying he was leaving it behind, but Alvin replies that he doesn’t need it anymore. I believe the text also implied that the boy who can see ghosts no longer can see his mother after the tunnel incident, but gets closure somehow as a result.
That’s all I can recall… I believe the book was illustrated too, with some pictures every chapter or so, but here’s the catch. I’m from Mexico, so I’m not certain if what I read was a book originally written in Spanish, or a book that was translated from English to Spanish. Given the Alvin name (not a common one in Spanish) I’m leaning towards it originally in English, but I’m not 100% sure.
I hope all this helps, this book has been haunting me for years and I just want to get closure somehow haha.