What were your favorite OBSCURE(?) children's books?

Honest to God, I thought of this thread idea last night, and only just now saw Cartooniverse’s thread. I popped in there and didn’t see a lot of overlap, so I hope I’m not treading on any toes.

Anyway, the other day I finally retrieved a book I had loaned to a friend. I have a small collection of treasured children’s books that were given to me over the years by my “book aunt.” What made them special to me, besides their intrinsic interest, was that she always inscribed them with the date and something like “Happy Birthday Scarlett, from Auntie Bookworm.” One she even had inscribed by the illustrator. That was a big deal to a little girl. I’ve loved them all for years, and now that I have a young niece who devours books as voraciously as I did, now I get to be the book auntie :D, and along with new books, I have started passing these heirlooms along to her.

Most of these books are ones I’ve never encountered outside my own experience with them. It occurred to me last night, as I was re-reading my recent re-acquisition (which seems much more charming than ever, all of a sudden), that perhaps some Dopers might also have enjoyed these rare treasures.

I’m not looking for classic, well-known favorites like those in the other thread: Little House, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. In this thread I’d like to promote the “sleepers” and see how many of them we have in common. (I saw only one of mine listed over there.)

I’ll start with the book I already mentioned (only the first two are “book aunt” books; they just spawned the idea):

Chimney-Top Lane, by Gunnel Linde
The Doll Who Came Alive
No Flying in the House
Me and the Terrible Two
No Such Thing as a Witch
Striped Ice Cream
The Pushcart War, by Jean Merrill (Newbery winner, may be better known than I think)
The Figure in the Shadows, by John Bellairs (also may be better known)

That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head. (If you’ve read any of them, pipe up!) Now it’s your turn!

I have two I usually throw out in these threads:

The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death — by Daniel Pinkwater, which you can now get packaged with a few other novels which I haven’t had the pleasure of reading. But most Pinkwater is good. Utterly engaging, evocative, and laugh out loud funny.

Secondly: Mr. Bliss — by some author named J.R.R. Tolkien. One of the characters in this book is the Girabbit, a hybrid between a giraffe and a rabbit. My young precious mind was thoroughly captivated by this crossbreed.

Those are my two nominees. Anybody familiar? None of yours ring any bells, Scarlett67, so sorry!

I had a book I used to love as a child called “Lottie”. I’ve never seen or heard of it since, and I have no idea who the author was or even remember much about it.

Boswell’s Life of Boswell, by Evelyn Leavens. An absolutely wonderful picture book about a thoughtful, philosophical dog. It was published in 1958 and is now long out of print, but you can read the whole thing here.

Best Basset Hound, ever!

Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, was my very favorite book as a child. It was my mother’s favorite, also, and I still have her worn and well-read hardcover edition.

Scarlett, I loved The Pushcart War, and No Flying in the House is recently back in print. Doctor Who, my favorite Pinkwater was always Lizard Music.

RachelChristine, is your book possibly the same as Lisa and Lottie (original title - the Two Lotties) about the little twin girls who are separated and then meet at summer camp?

Some more obscure ones I read over and over:

The Spettecake Holiday- a little boy goes to live with his grandmother on a farm. I think this book is bigger in Sweden where it was originally published.

The Viaduct - sort of creepy yet dreamy time travel about locomotives.

*Go to the Room of the Eyes *- A family moves into a big Victorian house in Seattle(?) and discovers clues to a treasure hunt

Winter Cottage - this is maybe not so obscure, because it’s by Newbery winner Carol Ryrie Brink. About an itinerant family during the Great Depression who takes up residence in a vacant summer cottage.

*Trudy Terrell, High School Freshman * This is one of those books I got for a dime at a garage sale. Very 1950s. Trudy goes to high school and is involved in wholesome activities. It always seemed like it should be a series, but I’ve never ever seen another copy of this, or any similar book.

*The Stars for Children * This is a truly amazing book, published in the 1930s. It’s a very basic introduction to how to locate constellations, and it explains the myths behind their names. It also has a lot of information about things like how an eclipse works. Despite being written for kids, the content is very clear and accurate. I actually chucked the terrible textbook and used The Stars for Children for my college Intro to Astronomy course, and got a B+.

No flying in the house was a favorite of mine, too.

As a toddler, my very favorite book was The elephant who liked to smash small cars, by Jean Merrill (mentioned above as the author of The pushcart war). It’s the best picture book ever, and now I have a battered old copy that I read to my kids.

Besides some of those that have already been listed, I’ll contribute The mummy market, which was about some kids who went looking to buy a mom.

I also loved anything by Daniel Pinkwater or Diana Wynne Jones, and also William Sleator. Oh, oh, and there was this fantasy quartet about this prince, Kerish Lo-taan, who goes on a quest for seven keys. Children of the wind was one of them, I think.

Maybe Lotta? By Astrid Lindgren, best known for Pippi Longstocking.

I loved Lotta… I vaguely remember her and her little sister skating down the frozen river to visit friends, which was very foreign and mysterious to us in tropical northern Australia!

The Space Child’s Mother Goose by Winsor and Parry.

Flappity, floppity, flip,
The mouse on the Möbius strip
The strip revolved
The mouse dissolved
In a chronodimensional skip.

Between Scholastic’s classroom catalogs (the sheets we could bring home to order books), the library and the doctor’s office, I had a lot of children’s books I loved.

Helga’s Dowry
The Giant Jam Sandwich
There was one called “Who Filched Fletcher?” that had a sassy girl detective looking for a missing dog, which I can’t find anywhere on Google.

A little older (tween years), one of my favorites was Johnny’s In The Basement, about a kid and his huge bottlecap collection.

I LOVED No Such Thing as a Witch! That’s the one with all the trippy brownies that make you like/talk to/act like/turn into animals…and the woman with all the animals in her house. I read that so many times back in second grade.

I can remember loving The Otterbury Incident when I was about 11. Can’t remember it at all these days, maybe I’ll see if I can dig up my old copy.

I don’t know if it was obscure or not, but I really enjoyed Shade’s Children by Garth Nix.

My whole 3rd grade class read this one. Loved it!

Two books that I’ve never seen anyone else reference before are:

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, and Farmer Goff and his Turkey Sam (which I have signed by the author/illustrator).

When I was in kindergarten i got a book called David and the Phoenix. I loved that book, but we moved in 1960 and I hadn’t seen it since. Looking it up on Amazon its ranking is 346,185 in books, so I guess that qualifies as obscure.

One of my favorite books when I was a child was Silver Pennies, a collection of poems for children, edited by Blanche Jennings Thompson. Unlike many such books, the poems are not trite or cute. Some of them are sad, some are scary, and almost all of them are thought-provoking. One of these poems, “The Vinegar Man,” by Ruth Comfort Mitchell, haunts me still. More than fifty years after I first read “The Vinegar Man,” I still remember every word.

Herman the Helper, and any of Jack Kent’s books. I think Jack Kent is out of print now.

My Dad had a shelf of boys’ adventure novels, including all the Tarzan books and Burroughs’ Mars and Venus books. But there was a series of 4 novels by Harold M. Sherman, and one of them was “Tahara, Boy King of the Desert”. It’s been probably 50 years since I read those books and I just checked at ABE books and I can order them if I want.

Pulp fiction, but good fun as I recall.

I wanted to find a picture from “Pua Pua Lena Lena and the Magic Kiha-Pu” but I can’t seem to. I loved that book as a kid. My dog kinda looked like Puapualenalena. Here’s the basic story. They actually have that shell at the Bishop Museum but can’t display it due to threats from certain Hawaiian groups. “Kamapua`a” was also a good book. “Kahala” was good too but sad. Sadly they’re all out of print. I did manage to get a copy for my nieces 7 years ago.

For older kids I also loved “A Walk In Wolf Woods” about 2 kids who go for a walk in the woods while on vacation in Europe and see a crying man run past them down the path. Only he was dressed in very odd colored clothing. “The Forgotten Door” about an alien boy who falls through a forgotten door and winds up on Earth.

Ohhhhhh, I want a copy of this. :smiley:

Good to see other Pushcart War fans. True story: I got my copy (sadly, I no longer have the original) in a box of hand-me-downs from my cousins. Years later I was working at a print shop, showing the recently hired kid how to do something. For some reason I was reminded of pea-pins, which I mentioned more or less to amuse myself. Kid said, “Huh?” and I called across to the other guy, “Hey, do YOU know what a pea-pin is?” To my utter shock (and secret joy) he shot right back, “Pushcart War, right?” :eek: Turns out that he had read it in his own childhood, a good 10 years or so before I did.

I’ve been married to Other Guy for going on 18 years. We both feel that discovering that we had both read and loved that silly little book so long ago, and still remembered it, was one of the things that drew us together. In 1996 we sent off our copy to Jean Merrill with a letter telling our story and asking her for an autograph. She graciously obliged us with a very sweet and funny inscription (“By Hand”) and a charming two-page letter with tidbits about some things in the book. The book and now-framed letter are on display in our living room. :smiley: