Sunday, June 16, 2013

Books lost and found

Is there a book that you read and loved as a child, but now you can't remember the exact details of it? Maybe you remember the character's name, or the way the cover looked, or one or two plot details. But mostly you remember that you loved it and read it to pieces, and now you wonder what was the name of that book, and would you still like it as much?

For years, I've sought a certain book that I remembered checking out of the library when I was younger. It was in the A or B section of juvenile fiction. I thought it might be by Joan Aiken or maybe an author named Benary-Isbert. I remembered there were two characters named Andrea and Dieter, and there were several children in the family, and a brother (I thought his name was Michael) who had died before the events in the book took place. And I was pretty sure there was a sequel that I'd also read.

Not much to go on, right?

But through the Magic of the Internet, I have finally found the book. I was first able to determine that Joan Aiken didn't write it (though she did write The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, another book I reread frequently but don't remember much about now). Then I discovered that the dead brother named Michael actually came from a Jean Little book I'd read around the same time, Home from Far.

There was, however, a dead brother in the book I was looking for. As well as Andrea and Dieter. And the author's name is Benary-Isbert.

It's The Ark (a title that didn't ring a bell at all--strange what we remember and what we forget!). And the sequel (which also exists!) is called Rowan Farm. Now that I know, I'll get my hands on a copy sooner or later.

Have you ever tracked down a half-forgotten book?


  1. I don't think I've tracked down a book with so few details, but I have done it with films (I rediscovered Kiki's Delivery Service, which was a movie I watched frequently as a child) that have made me obsessed with the director/writer of them as a result.

    I do have one book that sticks out to me - Ashes of Roses. I don't know the author, but it's a novel that focuses on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and was, at the time of reading it, a wonderfully compelling read about an Irish immigrant named Rose. So many scenes stick out to me: one where she uses her nickel to go to the nickelodeon while an acquaintance uses it to buy new soles for her shoes, one where she identifies the dead bodies of two of her friends (also named Rose) from the factory.

    ...I wonder if it would hold up now?

    1. I looked it up because it sounds good--Mary Jane Auch.

      Sometimes I find that books from my past no longer grip me. Some (like Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Headless Cupid, and KM Peyton's The Team) grab me all over again.

  2. This was how I found the Sweet Dreams books I used to read as a kid. And through the internet, too, I was able to get copies, since they're already out of print.

    1. Probably we should pack these books away rather than get rid of them, and open them years later to see if they hold up. ;-)