Friday, April 06, 2007

EDoA, Day #2 (Random): Missing books

We all have them--those books you that can never find, the ones you read as a child and then lost track of. You may remember the plot or the characters or the look of the cover, but you can never recall exactly who wrote the book or what its title is. There are whole websites out there, which are devoted to helping people find these missing books. Message boards, web forums, etc, all of them filled with clues dug from the depths of your memory, and thrown open to the world for any help that you can find.

Some people find their missing books, although it may take them years. Others never do. And some are still looking.

I have been searching for years, easily since 1998 or 1999, and have yet to find my missing book. I can tell you that it has a blue cover and that I read it in an after-school program when I was ten or eleven years old; I can even tell you what the book shelves looked like in that after-school program, as they sat underneath the window in the school classrooom. I can tell you that my father used to pick me up from there in an ancient green Volvo, and that we'd drive together with my brother, to pick up my mother from the bus stop, after her commute from New York. But I cannot tell you what the title of the book is or who wrote it.

It was about rings: green, yellow, and blue ones. There was a girl who could see the rings floating in the sky, and jump through them to parallel worlds. Each color led to a different world. One was an aquatic world, and I seem to remember that she grew gills and webbed feet when she went there. Most of the time, the rings were single ones, but sometimes she saw double or triple ones stacked together. Very few other people could see the rings, but the major plot point of the book was that other people had discovered them. And those other people were illegally stealing water from the aquatic world, and pumping it back onto Earth, where it transmuted into oil. Obviously, they were stealing it, and making a horrendous profit. And it was up to the girl to stop them. I seem to recall that she ended up teaming up with a Navajo police officer in the end, and got to ride in a helicopter, all in her efforts to stop the theft of water from the aquatic world.

Now really, you try to find a book with this description. I can't. I've googled, I've searched, I've done everything conceivably possible. And I haven't been able to find the author or the title. I can tell you, based on my age when I read it, that it couldn't have been published past 1991 or 1992. But that's about it, other than what I wrote above. Back when I started searching, my web-crawling led me to discover Rudy Rucker, and I paid a decent chunk of cash to acquire SPACETIME DONUTS; it wasn't my book, but at least it got me hooked on a new author.

I still hold out hope that one day, someone might read this blog, and know what the title of my book is. I still search for it in used bookstores, on the off-chance that it might jump out at me. Because I was meant to read that book again... and maybe some day, I will.

Your turn, people! What are your missing books?

25 comments:

Laura Kramarsky said...

Well, I don't know that book, but if you want to try to stump the bookseller, you may find the title. It's one of those sites you talk about in your post and I know a few people who've had luck with it, though it can apparently take quite a while to get an answer. Stump the Bookseller

I don't have any missing books, though there are books I will never be able to get my hands on again short of spending tens of thousands of dollars. A good example is a book called The Gnu And The Guru Go Behind The Beyond. Betcha can't guess what decade THAT was published in! It was a fabulous story, though, with great pictures.

And there were editions...some George MacDonald books I had as a child that are long gone that had the most beautiful illustrations. The ones now, well, they just don't compare. (I think the ones I had were originally published in England and brought over...children's books there had a very different flavor.)

But on another, similar topic, just before John Connolly's "Book of Lost Things" came out, he had a contest on his forum asking people to submit "lost books." Books long out of print or just forgotten by large sections of the public, books that made lasting impressions on their readers. Some of the reviews were wonderful, and I found a book or two I'd never heard of when reading them. If anyone else is interested, the thread is here: Lost Books

stevez said...

New reader and poster (but I've read every word, I swear!).

I just recently recovered my lost book, last week in fact. When I read your post, it resonated strongly for me. Mine involved a vague idea of heading underground, wherein there was a land of mushrooms with strange little green or yellow beings living in them, eating them, even wearing them if I recall correctly. There were two human children who entered the world, through a trapdoor in the floor of a house (grandparents house perhaps?), and I seem to remember them complaining about the mushroom soup (which I love, so it stuck). I read it back in Grade four, twenty-nine years ago. And then the other day, I gave this brief description, and one of my friends said, oh, that's The Secret World of Og by Pierre Berton. Now if you don't mind, I think I'll go read the Wiki article to refresh this old brain of mine.

Oh, and Jenny, fantastic blog - you kept me up several late nights in the past week after discovering you via a mention I found through a poster at Making Light. Don't let the trolls drag you down!

stevez said...

Oh, and here's a link to the Wiki article on my lost book.

Sorry, yours doesn't ring a bell, but I'll check with my amazing biblio-lexicographer friend - bet she knows :)

Jenny Rappaport said...

stevez, oh, very cool, I had no idea that I was mentioned on Making Light (I read it too!).

December Quinn said...

Oh, I was going to leave the Stump the Bookseller link!

Mine is about a girl in fifth or sixth grade--sixth, I'm pretty sure--who is suddenly abandoned by her best friend. I *think* she may have gotten close to the "cool" crowd and they dumped her, and when they did her best friend didn't want her back. She has a couple of goldfish she got for a school project and writes a poem about them, the first line of which is:
probable possible
my goldfish

I think the title had something to do with glass or mirrors or something. It was such a good book, and I just can't find it.

MaryF said...

I have two - both Scholastic books (remember the little flyers the teachers would send home?) The first was about children who moved into an old house, only to be haunted by the ghosts of the children who lived there before and had died in a fire. The ghosts ended up saving the children from another nursery fire.

The other was about two best friends who were writing a book together, and the book was part of the story. The sharpest memories I have of this book is that they used the word "romantical" and they'd set their book in Europe and the Rhein River was flowing the wrong way.

I'm definitely going over to Stump the Bookseller!

Kimber An said...

I'm not missing any books. Either I never totally grew up or I held onto them too tight. Anyone read BABY ISLAND? Two sisters, about 10 -12 years old get shipwrecked with four babies. I was born baby crazy and I just adored that book! Now, I've passed it on to my own children.

JC Madden said...

I actually found my missing books a few months ago!

For years I'd been obsessed with finding these 'choose your own adventure' books for girls. I remember the covers (Larry Elmore) and I remembered that they had something to do with jewels, and they were all different colors, and the first book was red.

I found them again by following a random link on the internet. Turns out they're 'HeartQuest' books and they were published by TSR back in the 1980s! Boy did that make me feel old. :) At any rate, I promptly ordered all of them off Amazon.com's z-shops, since they were all long out of print.

Yours will turn up!

Zany Mom said...

Kimber, I remember that book! There was a gruff bearded guy on that island who was missing a toe, who eventually helped the girls, and weren't two of the babies twins and they got them mixed up? (the babies got their identifying colored socks off or something). Brings back memories!

Southern Writer said...

Oooh. Love this post. Mine must have been back somewhere between 1972 - 1974, and I vaguely remember reading it to my little sister: Big brown bear, blue bull, beautiful baboon blowing bubbles, biking backward. Bump! Bang! Billy ... and that's all I remember. :-(

Patrick McNamara said...

The SurLaLune (http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/) forum gets lost book requests all the time since it's a fairy tale forum. The tricky part there is that many of the classic stories have been reprinted many times and it can be hard to narrow down the specific collection they are referring to.

Zany Mom said...

Southern Writer, your book is The B Book with the Berenstein Bears. Found it on amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/000171287X/ref=pd_sl_aw_alx-jeb-9-1_book_7066808_2

Don said...

Stump the bookseller is really handy for that sort of thing, as is google. I've bought a bunch of books from my childhood over the last few years: The Mad Scientist's Club (& New Adventures thereof), Alan Mendelsohn the Boy from Mars, I'm thinking about picking up a couple others. It seems that most of what I read as a kid were books published roughly a decade earlier (although there were some variations on that theme) which might help in figuring out what your book is.

Chumplet said...

I always wanted to track down a copy of The Rat Factory, a book I read as a teenager. It was a satirical novel about a guy who worked in an animation studio, much like Disney, only much darker. His sole job at this crazy place was as an 'in betweener' - to draw the bits in between the real bits.

Chumplet said...

The first book in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe had coloured rings in it that let the children go to different worlds, but I don't remember the gills or the water to oil bit.

McKoala said...

Maryf - hope you come back, because I'm pretty sure that your first book is The Amazing Mr Blunden by Antonia Barber, first published as The Ghosts by Jonathan Cape in 1969, then with the new title by Penguin in 1972. Those are the UK publishing details; the US may be different. How do I know all this? I have the book! It was one of my childhood favourites and I have kept it for all these years. I re-read it last year and it still doesn't disappoint.

tcastleb said...

When I was in elementary school (80's) there were two books written from the POV of a black cheetah in ancient Egyptian times, and the cheetah was ridiculed by members of its own kind because of its color, but it ended up being very special to the pharoah. Either that, or there was some sort of dream/time travel involved where the cheetah was reliving another black cheetah's life. Can't remember the name or the author. :>(

tcastleb said...

Oooh, and in middle school (early nineties) there was a whole bunch of Urban SF books by the same author . . . the only one I remember was twin brothers, one of which was tired of looking like his twin brother, so he found this magic shed where, when he locked himself inside, a day passed for every minute that passed outside; so after a day in the real world, he stepped out and was a year older, and no longer looked like his brother. I remember them being well-liked among everyone.

MaryF said...

McKoala, I went to Stump the Bookseller, and you're right! I ordered the book - I'm SOO happy!

I submitted the one about the girl writing a book, though!

Stacy said...

If it's a children's or YA book, the child_lit listserv has also been an amazing resource for stumpers. I also find the YALSA-BK listserv helpful for YA books (and you should never underestimate the help of a good librarian! I mentioned a book I read in high school that stuck with me to a YALSA librarian and she knew it off the top of her head).

Both lists can be found easily by googling. Child_lit is run through Rutgers, and YALSA-BK is run through, obviously, the Young Adult Library Services Association of the ALA.

davidrslayton said...

It may not help, but if you're ever in Denver, go to Books Unlimited on Florida and Broadway.
They have the most amazing inventory in there. I've found nearly all of my missing books by wandering their stacks.

Anonymous said...

Dang, here I was all delighted with myself for having identified The Amazing Mr Blunden, and then I keep reading and someone's beaten me to it :-). I still have that book and McKoala is right, it's still wonderful.

Abebooks has a Book Sleuth board that's wonderful for identifying lost books.

Thermo said...

I too have been looking for the title of that ring book for almost a decade. If you ever do figure it out - let us know. You nailed the plot summary pretty much spot on although when she went to the aquatic world - she got tiny as well.

Jenny Rappaport said...

Ohmigod, thermo, you're the first person I've ever met who actually recognizes the plot of that book! Now we just have to figure it out together! =)

zarantha said...

Jenny, not sure if you're still looking for this book, but I just found it again, and thought I would share it. The book is called Spaceling by Doris Piserchia. The cover on fantasticfiction is the cover I recognize, although the description left much to be desired.

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/p/doris-piserchia/spaceling.htm

Here is a review of her books, confirming that Spaceling is the book with the rings.

http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/susan/sf/dani/PS_008.htm

Anyway, I'm off to buy the book now so I don't loose it again.