Let's help each other identify books we dimly remember reading as kids

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Late 80s/early 90s: a bunch of kids on a road trip out west, maybe to Vegas? One of them is some sort of whiz kid huckster with a knack for getting them into scrapes with his zany schemes and/or zest for gambling (shades of The Great Brain). One set piece involves an extremely elaborate setup of either model trains or Matchbox cars. I remember nothing else, and even that much I only just recalled a couple of days ago when this thing dislodged itself from deep deep memory. Help?

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 24 January 2008 04:03 (twelve years ago) link

Yeah, so, like that, but actually a real thread.

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 24 January 2008 14:26 (twelve years ago) link

Answers to all your childhood book queries, now made with real thread!

Aimless, Thursday, 24 January 2008 21:05 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

Much earlier book, maybe from the 50s or 60s. Short, big text, but probably with "chapters" in some sense. Kids dress up in masks made from paper bags, with spears and other things made from household stuff. Book also includes instructions on how to make your own. It all has to do with some secret club that meets out in the woods or in the tall grass. Eventually it turns out that the kids' parents were also members of this gang as kids. Much merriment despite how creepy I may be making this sound. I think the groups are maybe called WOLF and DRAGON but I can't remember.

Doctor Casino, Saturday, 31 October 2009 11:12 (ten years ago) link

I can't help, but I will add one that has been nagging at me for years.
A kids book featuring a string quartet on their way to a gig. All sorts of horrible things happen to them and the one that sticks out in my mind was the inadvertent crushing of their little car into a cube, that they then had to carry along with them to the gig. When they finally make it, they find that the show was canceled or something equally sad.

derrrick, Sunday, 1 November 2009 09:27 (ten years ago) link

Boy takes over father's NYC bodega (father falls ill?) and gets rich turning it into a successful chain. He's surprised when father isn't happy about it. Contains a scene where a character says the following is someone's epitaph: "Life is a jest and everything shows it; I thought so once and now I know it." (Never forgot that line--I was mad that the stockboys in the store laughed but I didn't get the joke.)

W i l l, Wednesday, 11 November 2009 22:20 (ten years ago) link

Tried doing a Google Book search for that epitaph--not sure of the book still, but lots of things come up with the line "Life's a jest and ALL THINGS show it" -- don't know if doing a Google book search on that phrase turns up the book?

When two tribes go to war, he always gets picked last (James Morrison), Wednesday, 11 November 2009 22:25 (ten years ago) link

Great idea, thuogh so far all the results are quite old. This book was likely published between 1960 and, oh, 1990.

But I have learned that the epitaph belongs to John Gay.

W i l l, Thursday, 12 November 2009 01:29 (ten years ago) link

Your search - "Life's a jest and all things show it" bodega - did not match any documents.

W i l l, Thursday, 12 November 2009 01:31 (ten years ago) link

I read a set of fantasy books set on a clover-shaped island that was clearly a proxy for a pre-medieval Blighty. The only clear detail I have is that one of the peninsulae was called 'Welas'. Otherwise lots of princes, uncleared forests and horse-riding. At one stage there was a comedy scene where a princess was surprised that a prince dared to ride a horse straight-on rather than side-saddle. 'But I have no virgin zone,' quoth he - seemed quite racy to child me.

From where I remember plucking these from the library shelf, the author's name would've been late in the alphabet, T to Z most likely.

Ismael Klata, Thursday, 12 November 2009 11:37 (ten years ago) link

One of Nancy Springer's "Book of the Isle" sequence? Silver Sun in Google Books is a match for Welas, looking around makes it seem possible.

woofwoofwoof, Thursday, 12 November 2009 12:45 (ten years ago) link

I'm pretty sure that's it, many thanks. 'The White Hart' rings a clear bell too. To be honest, it looks absolutely terrible - what was I thinking?!

Ismael Klata, Thursday, 12 November 2009 13:20 (ten years ago) link

Book was about a group of kids who had invented a game where they had to sneak through all the back gardens in a row of houses. There were certain rows that were considered more difficult etc. Also had a Sixth Sense style twist if i remember correctly.

Number None, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 15:08 (ten years ago) link

Some sort of detective, possible Swedish, flies around in a helicopter.

hugo, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 19:30 (ten years ago) link

amelia bedilia?

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 19:39 (ten years ago) link

nine months pass...

Group of teens in a declining (but not post-apocalyptic future) (urban blight, unemployment, everything's just sort of gone to shit), sign up for some sort of weird virtual reality game thing where they travel to other worlds and survive and make new settlements. Each time they're in it for longer and longer, and then of course the twist is that the last time they aren't in the game at all, they were actually put in suspended animation and put on a flight to this new planet to be the future of the human race.

Doctor Casino, Monday, 6 September 2010 18:45 (nine years ago) link

I want to say it was called THE GAME or WELCOME TO THE GAME but I can't find anything under those titles...

Doctor Casino, Monday, 6 September 2010 19:24 (nine years ago) link

That sounds kind of like Ender's Game, though in that they get to fight wars with aliens in the game rather than colonise planets.

The New Dirty Vicar, Tuesday, 7 September 2010 14:08 (nine years ago) link

There are two that I've been trying to remember forever:

One is a fantasy novel in which this girl has to navigate this labyrinth in complete darkness and looking for a stone (I think?). I think it was part of a series but my library didn't have the others.

Another is about a young girl who is made fun of because everyone thinks she's a changeling. She later finds out she is and goes underground to the dwarf world. I remember the writer describing the girl as having hair that resembled "bracken", because I had to look up the word.

optimizing the emotional effects of Redneck Hoe by Insane Clown Posse (corey), Tuesday, 7 September 2010 14:16 (nine years ago) link

No, it's definitely not Ender's Game - - it basically steals the Ender's Game twist, but is fundamentally a Swiss Family Robinson type book crossed with, I dunno, Breakfast Club surrogate-family-of-unlikely-friends thing.

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 7 September 2010 17:03 (nine years ago) link

Corey's two sound Alan Garner-ish, but I don't know that they actually are.

... (James Morrison), Wednesday, 8 September 2010 01:11 (nine years ago) link

two years pass...

I am racking my brains trying to remember the name of this killer book that I read as a little kid- it was about a halloween party and either on the way there or on the way back the protagonist gets lost in the woods and meets real witches who can fly on brooms and take him/her to their real halloween party filled with scary folk and then the protagonist is brought back to safety. the drawings were awesome and it made a big impression on me but I cannot remember the title or the author. anybody know what I am talking about? this would circa late 70s early 80s (though it could be older but that's when I was reading it)

the tune was space, Tuesday, 23 October 2012 05:47 (seven years ago) link

D'oh! Figured it out: it's Lonzo Anderson's "The Halloween Party" illustrated by Adrienne Adams.

the tune was space, Tuesday, 23 October 2012 06:00 (seven years ago) link

two years pass...

i'm trying to remember this book that was like my favorite kids' book as a very young child, like 4 or 5 - the sun is not feeling well at all and doesn't want to come out and is this sad shade of orange but then a bunch of animals (one of them is DEFINITELY a magpie) group together to try to wake the sun up and make the sun feel better so that it can come out and shine

marcos, Friday, 9 January 2015 01:53 (five years ago) link

and when it does it is this magnificent shade of yellow and gold and its rays shine everything and all the animals are happy

marcos, Friday, 9 January 2015 01:53 (five years ago) link

Late 80s children's chapter book mystery (4th/5th grade reading level). Anubis featured prominently.

how's life, Friday, 9 January 2015 12:47 (five years ago) link

The Egypt Game, maybe?

Doctor Casino, Friday, 9 January 2015 14:02 (five years ago) link

i remember a book i had to read for school. don't think i ever finished it, but there's one bit near the beginning that's always stuck in my mind where this lad is out walking in the woods and tumbles down a hill or a hole or something and a man comes along and pretty much force feeds him this horrible grey, tasteless muck. I can't remember if he escapes or has to stay there.

this is just a saginaw (dog latin), Friday, 9 January 2015 14:36 (five years ago) link

ledge THANK YOU!!!!!

marcos, Friday, 9 January 2015 15:25 (five years ago) link

That one illustration from the sun book looks great. Love watercolor over ink drawings.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 9 January 2015 15:28 (five years ago) link

That artist (Aruego) did one of my favourite books from childhood, 'Herman the Helper', about a wee octopus who helped all the other see creatures. It was in my primary school library and I've never seen it since. My own kids have Aruego's 'Leo the Late Bloomer'. The illustrations are lovely.

franny glasshole (franny glass), Friday, 9 January 2015 19:17 (five years ago) link

Reposting from the kids' illustrations best of the best thread:

Ugh, now this is really bugging me...there was a picture book (with a fairly elaborate, wordy story, not for little LITTLE kids) dealing with maybe animals living in like, the sewers or the other in-between spaces (clock towers? inside the walls of buildings?) in I would guess London, MAYBE Paris. Really really lavish illustrations, with things like scenes framed like section drawings sorta, so you could see stuff buried in the walls and the ground (dinosaur bones between rooms, that kind of thing).

It definitely had a narrative arc, and maybe something kind of skeevy and seamy was going on, criminals up to something, maybe a cop or detective animal that catches them...? I can't tell how much of this is really in the book and how much of it is garbled up with Danger Mouse which I recall watching a lot of around the same time, so let's say this must have come out sometime before 1992, say, and was likely a 1980s book. Dense, Baroque illustrations, and probably vertical in format - closer to the size/presentation of Stinky Cheese Man or something like that.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 9 January 2015 20:38 (five years ago) link

oh that sounds very familiar

man alive, Friday, 9 January 2015 21:40 (five years ago) link

Another great Aruego book is 'Pilyo the Piranha', about a cranky piranha's failed attempts to eat a sloth. I had dimly remembered it from my own childhood, and managed to google it after some dead ends and got hold of a copy for my daughter, who loves it.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91qKqbwrtEL.jpg

ornamental cabbage (James Morrison), Thursday, 15 January 2015 00:23 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

Group of teens in a declining (but not post-apocalyptic future) (urban blight, unemployment, everything's just sort of gone to shit), sign up for some sort of weird virtual reality game thing where they travel to other worlds and survive and make new settlements. Each time they're in it for longer and longer, and then of course the twist is that the last time they aren't in the game at all, they were actually put in suspended animation and put on a flight to this new planet to be the future of the human race.

― Doctor Casino, Monday, September 6, 2010 2:45 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

dear past self, it's INVITATION TO THE GAME by Monica Hughes

http://www.scholastic.com/content5/media/products/21/9780671866921_xlg.jpg

still hoping to solve the one from the OP though. i feel like the protagonist proper was the camp counselor (or other young adult chaperone type?) who is driving the van on this road trip. when the one huckster kid does make a super awesome slot-car racing track, it's a moneymaking scheme, people will bet on the cars as they race around. maybe the huckster kid takes his scams too far in the end, or just generally they're a nuisance to the lead, who is trying to keep them all out of trouble as they go. one chapter is definitely titled "the power of positive parking" but i can't remember why. maybe it just details their arrival at the convention hall or wherever they're going for the big tournament/awards show/whatever they're trekking across america for.

we're gonna live in spatula city (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 03:18 (four years ago) link

whole series where there are robots and i think probably there is an oppression-of-the-robots angle and robots are perfect androids who would be indistinguishable from people except that they walk stiff-legged, and at one dramatic point in one book a protagonist masquerading as a robot to escape some sort of peril gets all the way through a conversation as a convincing robot before exiting the room toward freedom and forgetting to walk stiff-legged

One is a fantasy novel in which this girl has to navigate this labyrinth in complete darkness and looking for a stone (I think?). I think it was part of a series but my library didn't have the others.

this old one sounds a little like u.k. leguin's the tombs of atuan, the second earthsea book? maybe not as it may actually better describe a section in the book of three.

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 03:28 (four years ago) link

Oh, fuck, I know what this robot thing is, don't I? Or am I just thinking of a Futurama episode mixed up with A Wrinkle In Time?

we're gonna live in spatula city (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:20 (four years ago) link

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=653693

Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper View Post
MY ROBOT BUDDY, by Alfred Slote.

we're gonna live in spatula city (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:21 (four years ago) link

omg yes! pretty sure that's it. thanks!

Don't go around walking like a robot or you will surely be stolen by nefarious thieves is the central theme in Alfred Slote's My Robot Buddy. At least I think so...it's been over 20 years since I have read it.

i see it won a "nene award", apparently we liked it in hawaii.

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:37 (four years ago) link

at least i think that's it. it seems unlikely that there'd be multiple YA books about robots who crucially don't bend their knees.

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:38 (four years ago) link

Well, apparently there are at least five:

My Robot Buddy (1975)
My trip to Alpha I (1978)
C.O.L.A.R. : a tale of outer space (1981)
Omega Station (1983)
The Trouble on Janus (1985)

we're gonna live in spatula city (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:43 (four years ago) link

i def read c.o.l.a.r..

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:45 (four years ago) link

i meant multiple authors/universes, but apparently even that was untrue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norby,_the_Mixed-Up_Robot

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:46 (four years ago) link

i guess that wiki doesn't mention anything about knees but a post on the straightdope forum above claimed they're a factor.

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:46 (four years ago) link

http://www.applebybooks.com/images/008612.jpg

joints looking a little too loose and flexible here i think

we're gonna live in spatula city (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:49 (four years ago) link

"he's bending his knees!" tom and friend cried, jointly

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:52 (four years ago) link

lol

we're gonna live in spatula city (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 04:59 (four years ago) link

Late 80s children's chapter book mystery (4th/5th grade reading level). Anubis featured prominently.

― how's life, Friday, January 9, 2015 7:47 AM (1 year ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Probably the House on Hackman's Hill by Joan Lowery Nixon

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1311039228l/6490424.jpg

how's life, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 10:47 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

Trying to remember the title of a YA book from the nineties about a girl who's living with her mom on the streets of (I think) San Francisco. It starts out with them living in a commune, but something bad goes down or the commune gets raided by the cops or something, anyway they have to take off with hardly anything and end up homeless in the city. At some point she convinces her mom to move to Monterey because her favorite book is Cannery Row, and they find a squat with some other ppl and she starts going to school. I remember almost everything about this book except the title, and google doesn't turn it up.

Lily Dale, Friday, 24 July 2020 19:49 (three weeks ago) link

Oh fuck I have not seen this thread before.

A comic or picture book with four Aliens in a sports car driving into Madrid.

I have been looking for this for 30+ years with no joy.

Anti-Cop Ponceortium (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 24 July 2020 20:33 (three weeks ago) link

@ Lily Dale - not ringing a bell for me but I couldn't help wanting to do some Googling myself. Surprised at how many YA books from the late 80s and 90s involve characters raised on communes. But on further investigation none of them really sound quite like yours...

Doctor Casino, Saturday, 25 July 2020 03:19 (three weeks ago) link

still hoping to solve the one from the OP though. i feel like the protagonist proper was the camp counselor (or other young adult chaperone type?) who is driving the van on this road trip. when the one huckster kid does make a super awesome slot-car racing track, it's a moneymaking scheme, people will bet on the cars as they race around. maybe the huckster kid takes his scams too far in the end, or just generally they're a nuisance to the lead, who is trying to keep them all out of trouble as they go. one chapter is definitely titled "the power of positive parking" but i can't remember why. maybe it just details their arrival at the convention hall or wherever they're going for the big tournament/awards show/whatever they're trekking across america for.

i'm certain this is some Gordon Korman book, not sure which one though

Piven After Midnight (The Yellow Kid), Saturday, 25 July 2020 04:20 (three weeks ago) link

"No Coins Please" - How much trouble can six kids get into on a cross-country tour? A lot – especially if one of them is Artie Geller.

Artie is the master of the money-making scheme, and his crazy ventures always turn out to be gold mines. He outwits his counselors and seems to be unstoppable – until the FBI catches up with him.

Piven After Midnight (The Yellow Kid), Saturday, 25 July 2020 04:24 (three weeks ago) link

Not a book but an LP of songs for kids about cars. All the songs were about different makes of car and the cover was the title of the LP spelled out in toy cars.

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Saturday, 25 July 2020 08:37 (three weeks ago) link

This would have been early '70s.

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Saturday, 25 July 2020 08:41 (three weeks ago) link

omg. omg. No Coins, Please is absolutely 100% the book! i found an ebook preview with a table of contents and "The Power of Positive Parking" is one of the chapter titles. THANK YOU!

Doctor Casino, Saturday, 25 July 2020 14:10 (three weeks ago) link

reading the plot summary, it's a shame the book wasn't a bigger hit, feels like it coulda made a decent low-budget 80s teen comedy.

Doctor Casino, Saturday, 25 July 2020 14:12 (three weeks ago) link


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