It is such a wonderful feeling to find childhood favorites, books that you thought you’d lost forever. They’re such treasure, like gold; they bring back a wash of good feeling. That just happened to me.
There was a book that I loved as a child (which my mother threw out) that I hadn’t been able to find. I couldn’t remember much about it, except that I loved the illustrations, they were hazy watercolors, and that there was a marble I used to gaze at from a boy’s pocket or a box or someplace, along with some other of his treasures.
I found another picture book from the same time period where the illustrations looked like what I remembered, and then I looked inside for the illustrator’s name. Then I started searching other titles by that author on Amazon.com, but most of the titles, because they were so old, didn’t have covers scanned in.
Next I searched on ebay in the children’s book section for that particular illustrator–and I found a cover that looked very familiar to me, and gave me a good feeling; I was pretty sure it was the right one. (The Hiding Place by Pauline Palmer Meek, illustrated by Tom O’Sullivan.) But I wanted to be sure before I purchased it.
So I wrote to the seller, asking what the book was about, and she wrote back the opening of the book: “Henry had a secret hiding place. In it he kept two marbles, a shiny rock, an old ball-point pen, and a stick of gum.”
I felt such a happy rush reading those lines, those words. Not only because it’s the right book, not only because those words bring back the happy, good feelings I had reading that book, but also because the words again touch me in just the right way. I’ve always loved the idea of having secret hiding places, and of having special little treasures, and I can see those things as treasures.
I can’t wait until the book arrives and I can open it again.
My route to finding the book may have been a bit round-about, but I discovered it. It helped that I remembered the illustrator’s style and found another book by him. It also helped that I could look at some covers online. So eBay, though you wouldn’t normally think of it as a way to find books, can help.
Then there’s the LiveJournal Find a Book community, which I’ve always found immensely helpful. (You just have to create a login to post.) And Librarian Mom wrote a great post on finding childhood favorites, with a link to a long article by the Internet Public Library: Half-Remembered Children’s Books: Search Strategies. My favorite new-to-me resources from that article are Loganberry Books’ Stump the Bookseller where you submit what you remember about a book for $2.00 (which can be used to purchase books from the store), and the bookseller tries to find it for you; and a MSN group Ex-Libris, the Lost Boards, which is a discussion board where you can post what you remember about a book, and others will try to help you find it, if it sounds familiar to them. These are wonderful resources, and fantastic ways to find that book you loved so much as a child.