What to do when you can’t remember the title of a long lost childrens’ book

Chatbotté by Perrault
Chatbotté by Perrault
by Jessica Ferguson, Three Little Birds Bookshop

Finding an out-of-print or rare children’s book can sometimes be tricky, but trying to find that book when you don’t know the title or author can seem impossible! If you are not sure if that dolphin was named Squeaky or Squealy, or if he took a trip to Hawaii or Australia, here are some tips to help you track down your long lost book:

  • STORY–Write down what you do know about the story. Do you remember character names or where the story took place? Were there anthropomorphized animals in the story? Do you think the person reading the story to you may have “improvised” a bit?
  • ILLUSTRATIONS–What do you remember about the illustrations? Were they colorful or monotone? Very detailed or line drawings? Did they fill the page or just accompany the text? Do they remind you of any specific illustrator or artist’s style?
  • BOOK FEATURES–Physical features are important, too: was the book you read hardback or paperback? Was it a picture book or chapter book? What color were the covers? Was there a dust jacket? How big was the book? Were the pages glossy or matte?
  • TRAVEL–Take a trip to the children’s section of your local library. If you get very lucky, you may find the book you are looking for there, but at the very least you should be able to find similar stories and illustration styles to help steer you in the right direction. Ask the children’s librarian if he or she is familiar with the story you are looking for. More than once I have reunited with a book this way!
  • MEMORIES–Personal information is also helpful. How old were you when you remember reading the book and what year was it? Were you able to read it yourself or did you need someone to read it to you? Do you think it was a book bought for you at the time or was it a hand-me-down from an older sibling or a parent? Was it borrowed from a public library for you to read? Did you read it in school or at home?

Once you have a better idea of what you know about your book, you can use search engines with the more unusual phrases. For example, if you know it was a picture book about triplets, try searching “book about triplets” or “children’s book triplets.” Adding “old” or “vintage” to searches can often narrow the field considerably. Of course, a bookseller specializing in children’s books will be your best bet, and armed with your information, they will be able to do a more extensive search and reunite you with your friend!

Jessica Ferguson is owner of Three Little Birds Bookshop, a family owned and operated second-hand book dealership established in 1999. You can view their books at their website or on their Biblio bookseller page.



This entry was written by and posted on December 6, 2007 at 2:55 pm, filed under Book Identification and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink

48 Responses to “What to do when you can’t remember the title of a long lost childrens’ book”

  1. Catherine Katz

    I’m looking for the name and details of a book I had when was a child in the early 1960s that I lost and wonder if I can ever find a copy again. It was a chemistry book, hardcover, with red and white/cream patterns on the cover. It had “recipes” for chemistry experiments including how to make bakelite! I would have been about 12 at the time I was given it. It wasn’t a text book. It was given to me by my father with a chemistry set that he had bought piece by piece and put together himself. I don’t remember that it had illustrations, but it could have. It also had check lists of things that one should have in a home chemistry set. Can anyone help?

    Reply
  2. Marianna

    I think it is this book. Good luck.

    The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments was a children’s chemistry book written in the 1960s by Robert Brent and illustrated by Harry Lazarus, showing how to set up your own home laboratory and conduct over 200 experiments.

    Reply
  3. Kimberley Heintz

    I would love to find a book I had as a young child. It was a mother goose nursery rhyme type book. Would have been from the early 1960’s. I remember having it by 1965. It was an oversized hardcover book. I remember the illustrations were so wonderful. One showed a cut away of animals living in a burrow under ground (rabbits?) Also a picture of a woman in a house leaning out of the window with a doggy bone. I’m thinking the cover was either blue or yellow…

    Reply
  4. Zach Huecker

    I’m trying to find a book I read about 3 years ago in highschool. It’s a suspense book and it’s about a girl who gets sent to a prestigious school in i think vermont. She gets sent there because her dad was pissed that she got a b in calculous. While she was at this school she gets kidnapped and her boyfriend goes all the way to vermont and searches for days trying to find her and he eventually finds out where she Is because the guy she was talking to gave her to these people because he didn’t have enough money to pay back his gambling loses and this guys dad was the owner of this school the girl was attending.

    Reply
  5. Anna Serin

    I got this book from a library about two princes.Their parents were away because of a trick that had been played on them.So while they were away an evil man (Barren Tempby) lies to them saying that their parents want them to take over the kingdom when they are gone or something similar.His daughter in disguise( his wife) tries to hypnotize the other brother. They meet two similar orphan princesses which I think they like.They know how to juggle knives,and that’s all I remember.

    Reply
  6. Tracy

    I’m looking for a childrens book circa 1979-1980 or there abouts. It was a hard copy with a white dust cover with blue writing. The story line revolved around children looking for hidden treasure hidden in a house, a friendly village witch, a special cape found in a market stall.

    Reply
  7. Mary

    Another great resource for finding a book whose title you can’t recall, is PUBYAC. Check them out at http://www.PUBYAC.org.

    From their website: PUBYAC is an Internet discussion list concerned with the practical aspects of Children and Young Adult Services in Public Libraries, focusing on programming ideas, outreach and literacy programs for children and caregivers, censorship and policy issues, collection development, administrative considerations, job openings, professional development and other pertinent services and issues.

    They are a great resource when one is unable to recall the author or title of a book. I left a description of a story I’d read in the third grade, and within 24 hours had 91 hits, most of which were spot-on with what the book was.

    You can send your request to the following: pubyac@lists.lis.illinois.edu

    It is not required that you subscribe to the list.

    Reply
  8. Melanie

    Hi…Im looking for this children book that i vaguely remember. All i remember was it had a yellow cover with a boy either in a tub or in his dirty white robe. He was 12 yrs old and he didnt like taking baths. So one day when his parents were away he went into this dirty world full of dirty kids and they all were playing in the garbage and eating out of dirty plates and his robe was dirty but near the end of the book he realized that being dirty was not his life style so when he went back home he started to take more good care of himself….please help me find this book. im losing sleep trying to find it.

    Reply
  9. mk

    looking for a childrens book from 1950-1960? I think it was mostly a picture book, black and white pictures. It was about a doll that came to life, she had a teddy bear that was her friend.

    Reply
    • m. wilkerson

      Edith and Mr. Bear: a Lonely Doll Story by Dare Wright

      Reply
  10. Sophie

    Hi there, trying to find a children’s book that had a ballerina a teddy and maybe a horse in it, they were feeling sad and wanted to leave somewhere, the colours of the book were quite warm and pale, it was hand drawn, iv looked all over the net for this book but can’t seem to find it!

    Reply
  11. Laurie Fitzwilliam

    I am looking for a book that I believe was written maybe in the late fifties. It was about a little boy that smiled at people who are unhappy and the smile kept traveling around the world. It remind me of PD Eastman illustrations or dr. Seuss illustrations. I remember the boy waving to a ship full of naval officers and they all smiled and continued to bring the smile around the world. I’m going crazy helper

    Reply
  12. Molly

    I’m searching for a series of children’s books that would have been published, I believe, around 1960, possibly late 1950’s. I received 2 hardcover books as a Christmas gift in 1962 (?) featuring the same 2 characters. I don’t know if there were additional books in the series or if there were only 2.

    They feature a girl and her friend who is a giraffe and tells of their adventures. One of them was named Maggie, not sure if it was the girl or the giraffe. The girl may have had a dog as well. One of the books has to do with the Milky Way and the giraffe teaches her about the stars and takes her on a tour of the Milky Way. I can’t remember the storyline of the other book – maybe going to the park or to the circus – but I remember a scene in which the giraffe is hungry and eats the fruit or floral decorations off of a new straw hat. The hat may have belonged to the girl. In my (possibly very inaccurate memory) it seems to me this may have been the first book of the series and so it is more situational about the troubles of having a friend who happens to be a giraffe.

    I have been searching for years – please help if you know anything about these books. Don’t know if it matters, but I think they would have been purchased in a college town in central Ohio.

    Reply
  13. Grace

    I’m after the name of a book. It was a collection of short stories and was a very thick book with a yellow cover. I only remember one story and it was about a cat who is given a very pretty bonnet with a ribbon on and it’s windy and it blows off into the river. I think the cover may have had apples on maybe.

    Also, probably even more difficult, the story of a French mouse (or that could have been a cat tbh) who sneaks into the room of a girl I think and tells her stories or war and such. I only have very vague memories of it but the creature was French and dressed in the traditional stripey jumper and beret.

    Some of your stories are ringing a bell too and I’m racking my brains trying to help.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  14. Zoe

    I’ve had the worst time trying to find this children’s illustration/comic book from when I was in my preteens (2010-12). I don’t know where it came from, but I think it was about a French masked hero and two children. The art style reminded me of Stan Mack but in color and a much different genre.
    The humor made me laugh so hard and I remember little frogs stuck in some of the illustrations. I also specifically remember that the only footnotes used were when there was a fancy word for a fast wind. i.e. Zephyr* *a fast wind. About the fifth time you found a word with a footnote it read *Yep, you guessed it!. There may have been a hotel in the story, but other than that I am at loss for any names at all.
    Sadly, I do not have access to a library and many attempts at searching online engines have proved futile.

    Reply
  15. mini

    There are particular children books I’ve been searching for for years via the internet or scouting various libraries with no luck.
    1- The first book was a paperback book about a young girl who was so excited to go to school and had a favorite red dress, i think it had white polka-dots on it, and she accidentally ripped it. The book had some colorful illustrations in it and I think she had a pet cat or dog in her home.

    2- The second book was a small pink hard cover book with a victorian doll house. One of the character names I recall is Penelope. I don’t’ recall the entire book, but it had a nice ending. I would like to find these books again and read them. They made me smile.

    Reply
  16. Donna

    I’m looking for a series of North Carolina ghost story books that fascinated a 10-11 year old me, back in the early 1970s. I may be totally mis-remembering, but I recall thin hardback books and perhaps white binding with dark blue graphics on the covers? Those stories had such a huge impact on me a child, and I’d love to find at least one of them to have and to read now.

    Reply
  17. Judy Halip

    I am looking for a children’s valentine paperback book (Weekly Reader?) that was small (8 1/2 x 5 1/2?) with silly valentine poems from 1960s? “Roses are red. Coal is black. If I were you, I’d sit on a tack.” Had lots of poems like that Thank you!

    Reply
  18. celeste belcher-girard

    I am looking for a children’s book about pollution and the environment. It was probably printed in the 1960s or 70s. I believe it was printed in both English and German. It had a landscape format with a yellow hardcover with a pic of all of the characters on front. the characters were ‘blobby’ in nature. Any suggestions? THANK YOU!

    Reply
  19. Kaitlin

    The book I’m looking for I believe came with a cassette tape. It was a bright colorful book. The story was about this white puppies but their ears reminded me of me of bright colorful yarn. In the story the blue and pink puppy got into a fight and the blue puppy ran away. She was trapped on a merry go round and the pink puppy found her and saved her. I believed this book is from the 80s or 90s. I have searched everywhere and cannot find it.

    Reply
  20. Gerald

    Trying to help find an old book. About a self-absorbed fly whose presents are always photos of himself. Cover has a fly holding a photo of himself.

    Reply
  21. Julie Turner

    I’m looking for a hardcover children’s book that has a little boy on the cover dragging a stuffed lion behind him. I believe the cover was mustard colored. It was around in the early 60’s.

    Reply
  22. Kim keinath

    Looking for book from early 1960s late 1950s about a dragon with 2 different color eyes. Pretty sure he lived in San Francisco. He directs traffic and gets it into a pretty good snarl although he means well. I absolutely loved this fellow.

    Reply
  23. Zaryab Muhammad

    Looking for an odd collection of short stories. The cover of the book is cyan.
    It contains many short stories and poems – here are some examples of what I vaguely remember from some of the stories (please note – I swear this is a real book)
    My grandad once saw a burnt man fall from the sky without a parachute during WW2

    I once cut off my willy when I pulled up my fly and I fainted in a hospital

    My neighbour (I think was called ‘Mr Thompson’) was pregnant.

    Please can anyone help me find it? I have so many childhood memories of the book. I believe there was a sequel (if this helps); in its blurb the author writes how adults condemned the author to live on an island to stop their children from having to read these stories and yet he presents some new stories.

    Reply
  24. Lourdes Rodriguez

    I am looking for a picture book I do not remember the plot except I believe it somehow involved either dancing or a parade of some kind. Also the illustrations of the book were either paint streaks with limbs or blades of grass or some other plants with limbs

    Reply
  25. Charlotte

    Hi, i am looking for an old childrens book, This is what i can kind of remember, A boy lived with his granny in the woods, i think it was called twiggly woods but not sure, he had a hat and a spider lived inside it, the spider was magic and had a wand, something about shopping for a new hat and then going in the woods for ingredients for the granny to make a soup, the book had different stories but this is the one i remember the pictures were black and white ,the boom was thick and blue with a picture on front, please help, no one else has ever heard of it.

    Reply
  26. christina h

    My favorite book as a young child was about a circle… a little circle who looooved to roll, sometimes he rolled up! and sometimes he rolled down… my mom would always read it to me. I’ve been trying to find this book for forever & I’m dying to find it! She said it was from target and it must’ve been from the early 2000’s (I was born in ’99) I have no clue who it’s by or who published it… another one of my favorites was “The Silly Swamp of Shapes” by Wes Ware. Maybe thats a clue that may lead to finding this book… I appreciate anyone that helps!

    Reply
  27. AC

    I am looking for a book I had as a child. It was about one sibling giving another sibling a box of chocolates, and inside the chocolates were things like a dead goldfish, grasshopper…thanks for any suggestions!

    Reply
  28. Becky

    pls, there’s this book I read for some years back. a small romantic book by the silhouettes, it was about a very beautiful lady who had an accident but was placed under investigation by the supervision of a sheriff who was also good looking. they fell in love along the line and the lady

    Reply
  29. Rose Williams

    I am looking for a book that would have been published before 1985. It is a small illustrated children’s book, around k-1st grade reading level. It has various stories all taking place in a sea-side town/village. One of the stories in it revolves around a woman and her niece. One’s favorite color is blue and the other’s is red. They only want to wear clothes with their favorite color on it. They end up going to a store and buying each other a gift. One buys a hat and the other a jacket in their own favorite color and now each are wearing the other’s color.

    Reply
  30. Rachel R

    Hi, I’m trying to find out the name of a book that was read to me as a child. It was about a little girl who went to the office for her dad, and her dad went to school for her. The cover of the book, the little girl was wearing her dad’s suit and had his breaf case with her. Please help me.

    Reply
  31. Hannah

    I’m trying to find two books from my childhood. One was a very old one about a little witch who was always made fun of. One night when the witches were trying to catch fairies, she helps all the fairies escape. At first the Queen Fairy is saying she can’t stay with them, but then a fairy notices she has a moon birthmark which means she was really a fairy all along. She is the Princess of the Fairies who was stolen by witches years ago.

    The other story was set in a small town with an upcoming fair. A storm made a building collapse and all of the pumpkins were trapped. The next day all of the pumpkins are mysteriously outside where they can get them. During a pumpkin race at the fair a (pig or dog?) start rolling all the pumpkins with his nose, and they finally realize who it was who really got the pumpkins out for them. Does anyone know either of these books? The witch one was really old (50s I think) but the Pumpkin one was more recent (90s ish). Thanks!

    Reply
    • louise

      I think the name of the book is called the worst witch.

      Reply
  32. Betsy

    I’m looking for a story book about a set of twin girls on the day of their birthday. And because I am a twin, I received it a a birthday gift in the 1960’s.

    Reply
  33. Louise

    I am looking for a book from the 90’s I think. It was a pale yellow colour and I’m sure it had a sketch of two books stood up over bikes. I think one boy was white and one boy was black. I’m sure the stories were all about different things they got up to during their summer.

    Reply
  34. Fang

    I use to read a book in high school. There were about 3 different books. Each had about 3 different stoires in them. One book had a blue key or necklace onit and was all black. I think the title had the word secret. And one of the stories was about a girl moving in with a mean mean grandmother and how she say a necklace she liked when she first came to the town. (Cant remember the ending but usually allthe endings were the girl would get with the guy she liked in the story) another story was about a girl who came over to her mothers old friend house for the summer like she did when she was young. The mom drowned there when the girl was younger. One of the girls she was hanging out with was in the boat house and was saying “shes awake shes awake” and you find out that the girl confused the word wake used for waves with the word wake meaning awake so when someone said its just a wake the girl heard “awake” and thought the dead mom came back. Somethin about a green house too. Its been so long all the stories jumble together now but if anyone knows it from this info plz tell me.

    Reply
  35. Suzanne

    I remember a book from the 1960s that I once found in a public library. It was an old-fashioned story (horse & buggy days) and a child named Amelia was sick and died. While she was sick in bed they put straw in the streets so the noise of carriages wouldn’t disturb her so much. As I remember, the narrator said something like, if sad things distress you, then you had better skip the next chapter (in which the child died). Made a big impression on me; would love to be able to find it again.

    Reply
  36. Suzanne

    I remember a book from the 1960s that I once found in a public library. It was an old-fashioned story (horse & buggy days) and a child named Amelia was sick and died. While she was sick in bed they put straw in the streets so the noise of carriages wouldn’t disturb her so much. As I remember, the narrator said something like, if sad things distress you, then you had better skip the next chapter (in which the child died). Made a big impression on me; would love to be able to find it again.

    Reply
  37. Ella Stern

    The story that I remember is about an anthropomorphic white female rabbit. I don’t know if she had a name, but I think I remember her wearing a pale brown coat to ward off against the cold. It was a very sad story; she trudges through the snow-covered forest on her own, looking for a place to live and someone to love her. A star takes pity on her and leads her to a house full of other rabbits, who take her in and give her a place to live. She goes to bed that night and the star is under her pillow.

    This was a hardback picture book, with many scenes of the poor white rabbit walking through the snow-covered woods. She walked on two legs and had long, becoming eyelashes.

    I was between the ages of four and six (so, circa 1998 until 2000 or 2001) when I read this book and remembered adoring the illustrations and the realism of the story. My mother thought it was too real and we never borrowed it from the library again. I don’t know the title or the author of the book, but I do remember how much I loved the notion that you could literally find people who loved you or would love you anywhere.

    Reply
  38. Louise

    I’m trying to find a children’s Christmas book. The book is about alimals coming together to decorate a tree in the woods with various objects. Then end page is very sparkles. My daughter is 18 and I would love to find it as it was her favourite as a little girl

    Reply
  39. Rebecca

    Hi I’m looking for a book I read a while ago it was about a young woman living away from home in in a by gone era and is made up of letters between her and her mother

    This is what I remember:

    The daughter writes to tell her mum that a friend is coming for a few days and will be staying over the mother writes back concerned that the freind will be sleeping on the floor and how will she ever explain to her mother, the daughter writes back that she’s not sleeping on the floor she sleeping on a divan mattress but she can have the bed if it will make her mother feel better. The mother replies not to do that as it will be drafty near the floor and she will catch a chill for not wearing woolies that it could develop into pneumonia and she will be too ill to look after herself, the daughter write back to say the friend came over a week ago with no ill effects

    Mother tells her if she needs money whilst away to send the code word opium a while later her iron breaks so she send a letter and her mother sends money but her father becomes worried and writes her privately to tell her if she needs any help financially to send a letter with the code word gondola and mother writes separately realising her code word is to suspect and changes it to heroine eventually her parents get so worried by the strange wording of her letters that they come to visit her with her uncles one of whom is a doctor and the other a lawyer

    In another chapter her mother scolds her for not writing to her aunt for a while so she does but consequentially all her other Aunty become quiet jealous and she is forced to write to all of them to prevent offence. Her mother then right writes to ask why she’s written to all her aunts and uncles but forgotten her own mother

    Her mother is a great believer in woolies even in the summer and often worries about her daughters health should she not wear them. at some point in the book the daughters cousin comes to stay with her mother and her mother writes to her praising the cousins good sense (all strangely in line with her mothers thinking) and suggests her daughter should become friends with her cousin and follow her example the daughter realises that the cousin is just to perfect to be real so she calls her mothers bluff and agrees to do just that requesting her cousins address which the mother never supples

    In one chapter a relative with a very accomplished daughter visits the mother who is initially frustrated that she cannot find as many accomplishments in her own daughter to brag about but is at last delighted to find a hand written poem of outstanding quality. Upon writing to her daughter the daughter does not have the heart to tell her that the poem in question was one she copied from a book

    Reply
  40. Deepa Parry-Gupta

    I am trying to find a picture book (paperback) probably published by Puffin in the 1970’s about a farmer searching for a lost nanny goat in the snow. The refrain is the farmer calling “nanny goat, nanny goat, where are you?”
    my mother used to read this to me when I was little and we would love to find it again
    thank you!

    Reply
  41. Erin T. Aardvark

    This may be a long shot, because I don’t remember many of the details. When I was in either first or third grade, my teacher read a book to my class. This would have either 1988 or 1990, I don’t remember which, and I really don’t know if the book was published earlier than that, or not. All I remember about the characters was there was a cat that met an artist, because I seem to recall the character painted pictures of the cat on the walls of his home or something like that. The cat then wandered off and wound up somehow covered in soot or something, and then met I think a princess (not quite sure) and she adopted the cat. The cat wanders off again and returns to the artist, and the princess somehow finds the cat at the artist’s and is impressed with the cat paintings.

    This is all speculation, as I was between the ages of 6 and 8 when this story was read to me. I don’t even remember if it was a cat, or if it was a kitten. My sister even suggested the book “April’s Kittens,” but it definitely wasn’t it.

    Reply
  42. BBPetrasanta

    I am looking for a scholastic mystery book series (for kids probably aimed at 3rd or 4th Grade level) It’s a short novel type with colored pictures and has an answer key at the end of the book (both the text and the pictures work together to solve the questions in the book) It reminds me a lot like the adventures of tin tin but it isn’t a full comic book with just pictures and dialogue (it’s more text and only scene pictures with clues in it) and also the main character is a young man with a dog sidekick (which is why I compared it to tintin). It saw it at a 2003 scholastic book fair and I was around 3rd grade and to me the book was challenging by my standards. I think the first letter of the main character’s name started with an A.

    Reply
  43. Anna Chipchase

    OK. This has been going round for ages. A book I read when I was 10ish in the 1970 so maybe 1960s published. A girl is sent away on a train to live with an aunt. Her mother hands her a letter into the train but half of it is ripped…so she only gets the bit that says ‘ I don’t want XXXXX (her name) you know that’ (the actual letter says ‘ It’s not that I don’t want XXXX you know that). So then she runs away, lives at the end of an allotment I think or in a field and steals a green dress off a scarecrow in order to enter a village fete! I think it is a British author with those ink drawings in. Ideas?

    Reply
  44. Liz Shean

    I’m looking for a children’s book from the mid-60s that I read in my public library as a kid. I was probably 6-8 years old. It was a large hardback book, with color illustrations of the characters. As far as I remember, it was written in the U.S. The story is about a family of musicians — the father is the conductor, the mother sings and plays the piano, the oldest son plays the upright bass and the daughter is the violinist. The youngest son, upon urging from his father and the rest of the family, tries to learn an instrument to fit in with the family orchestra, but he fails — he doesn’t play in time or in tune, he’s all thumbs, etc. Instead, he is more interested in playing baseball. I don’t remember how the story progresses from that, but by the end of the book, the youngest son finally finds his niche in the family orchestra — by drawing the concert posters for the family. Does anyone have any idea what the title and author is? I would love to know after all these years. Thanks!

    Reply
  45. Nikola

    looking for a book where 3 main characters wake up from therapy on the on of the book, book had white cover as i can remember and i read it 3 years ago i know that publisher had a couple of books only but can remember the name please help! thanks

    Reply

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