Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: AnimeJune Seeks a Book - and Offers Prize!

Longtime commenter AnimeJune is looking for a book for her mother:

My mum read this book a couple of times as a child and remembers really loving it – she describes it as “the book she wants to read again before she dies.” Unfortunately, she can’t remember the title, author, or a vast majority of the plot and what she does remember (other than that it was awesome) is a bit hazy.

What she remembers is that it was published in the fifties or possibly early sixties (she remembers the book was pretty beat up by the time she read it at the library), written either by a British author, or translated from German by a British publisher. The plot involves a young, poor boy who comes into possession of a magic acorn (or possibly chestnut) that turns into a tree. Somewhere along the way it’s discovered that this boy is a Prince – possibly a duke, but my mother seemed pretty certain he turns out to be a Prince.

I’m perfectly willing to offer a reward (book certificate to store of their choice, plus the two-volume “Orphan’s Tales” by Catherynne M. Valente) to the first person who can find this book for me!

Anyone remember this book? AnimeJune is offering a prize booty to anyone who can correctly identify it – I hope she and her mom can locate it!

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  1. 1
    Mo says:

    I can’t seem to find any sort of plot summary for it, but could it be “The Magic Acorn” by Enid Blyton?

  2. 2
    Katie Ann says:

    Googling different search strings are bringing up a lot of game walkthroughs.  Who knew acorns posed such integral roles in video games?  This one is a toughie, I hope someone recognizes it.

  3. 3

    I looked at Enid Blyton’s series, but in her series with the Faraway tree, it’s three siblings and they find the tree. No nuts. And no royalty. But Google likes to think it’s Enid.

  4. 4

    Here’s a picture of the cover of the book Mo’s talking about and a list of other stories in the book: http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk/book-details.php?id=814&title=Enid+Blyton’s+Thirteenth+Tell-a-Story+Book

  5. 5
    Ana says:

    Is it a romance book, or rather a “children”‘s story?

  6. 6
    MaryK says:

    I tried some searches when she twittered about this.  “Magic nut” is not a particularly useful search phrase.  Just in case you were wondering.

  7. 7
    AnimeJune says:

    Okay, just got back from my mum and she insists she never read Enid Blyton – she says my formidable grandmother never allowed her to read Blyton’s books because they were “horrid.”

  8. 8
    Dottie says:

    How about The Little Prince by St. Exupery

  9. 9
    Kara says:

    The Golden Acorn: The Adventures of Jack Brenin, book 1 by
    Catherine Cooper is the only one I could come up with…sorry.

  10. 10
    Amy Smith says:

    Is it A midsummer acorn: Three tales of midsummer magic?

  11. 11
    AgTigress says:

    Enid Blyton’s books were very popular in Britain, but were widely disapproved of by the intelligentsia even in their own time, and are absolutely verboten today owing to sundry offences against rules of political correctness that had not been thought of when they were written. 

    And all of them are, emphatically, children’s books:  Blyton wrote for ages around 5 to 11 years (the ‘Noddy’ and ‘Toytown’ books for the little children, ‘Famous Five’ adventure stories for bigger children).  Nothing that would even qualify for today’s mysterious ‘young adult’ classification, which did not exist then, of course.  One went from children’s books straight to adult books when one was ready, roughly around puberty.  Adolescence was not recognised as a valid concept till the late 1950s.

  12. 12
    Sarah W says:

    How about A Silver Nutmeg and a Golden Pear by Sheila Bishop (1945)?

    I remember reading this book from an old display collection in my childhood library, but the plot escapes me.  I think the MC is a little girl, but she helps bring a happy ending to several people, one of whom might be a magic prince, and the other the uncle (?) who gave her the nutmeg.

    Or I’m making the whole thing up . . .

  13. 13
    Mo says:

    OK so not Blyton.  Problem is, given the little I know about this book, it sounds more like a fairy tale type story.  I sure hope you find it.

  14. 14
    Judy says:

    Suggest she try one of the forums on LibraryThing.com, in particular “Name that book” (http://www.librarything.com/groups/namethatbook).  Given even less information at times, someone usually manages to come up with the answer.

  15. 15
    SusannaG says:

    She could try the “What’s the Name of that Book?”  group at GoodReads.

  16. 16
    dreadpiraterachel says:

    It’s definitely not The Little Prince. There are no nuts in that book (except maybe the businessman who counts the stars). :-)

  17. 17
    Beadgirl says:

    You could also try the “stump the bookseller” people at Loganberry books; it might even be worth searching the solved uh . . . stumpers, and see if someone else asked about the book.

    http://logan.com/harriett/stump.html

  18. 18
    pussreboots says:

    How about: Prince Silverwings, and other fairy tales By Edith Ogden Harrison. It was published in 1902 but it might have been reprinted in the 1950s. It’s available on Google Books.

  19. 19
    Rebecca says:

    It’s a long shot, but something in this summary suggested the rhyme “I had a little nut tree” to me.  An amazon search on that revealed The Witch, the Prince and the Little Nut Tree (Yellow Series Book One) by Sheila K. McCullagh, published 1967, by Hulton Educational Publishers.  McCullagh is an English author.  There’s also a book (probably the same one under a slightly altered title) The Prince and the Nut Tree with the same author and publisher, released in 1975.

    Sadly, I couldn’t find a proper summary, but I gather that it’s a fairy tale type story where two princes who are trying to reach a beautiful princess pass by a little nut tree that asks to be planted (or replanted) and ignore it, and presumably a virtuous third person comes along and helps the tree and wins the princess.  (I found a very unhelpful “review” but then lost the URL while searching.  Sorry this is a paraphrase.)  Perhaps this might be enough to jog your mother’s memory?  Good luck!

  20. 20
    Lisa Hendrix says:

    I was coming in to recommend Loganberry, too. They’re brilliant!

    http://www.loganberrybooks.com/stump-form.html

  21. 21
    Suzanna says:

    It sounds a little like “The Chestry Oak” by Kate Seredy (19480. Michael is the child of a Hungarian prince who is supposedly collaborating with the Nazis but is actually deceiving them. He sends Michael to safety, but things go wrong. Michael ends up as a war orphan in the US. He still has an acorn from his home, and plants it on an American farm.

    Seredy was a Hungarian who moved to the US – her books have beautiful illustrations which she did herself.

  22. 22

    I haven’t got a clue but I hope someone else figures it out! My brain is a giant hole of HABO queries… Just last night I had two songs melded together so I can imagine what a hopeless morass of confusion it would be if I tried to remember book plots from times past…

  23. 23
    SB Sarah says:

    I have an email from Sue R. who also says it’s the Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy. AnimeJune, is that it?

  24. 24
    Scrin says:

    Holy crap, the Orphan’s Tales ROCK, man.

    They’re so good, I’m about to replace my copy of the first one because everyone’s worn it out. Stories within stories within stories.

  25. 25
    Chelsea B. says:

    This is just a guess—but it doesn’t happen to be ‘Magic, a Fantastic Comedy’, does it?

  26. 26
    AnimeJune says:

    Suzanna (and Sue R) – BINGO. It’s “The Chestry Oak”! I google’d the cover and showed my mum the cover, title and story and she’s squeeing all over the place. That’s the book! She remembers! Thank you all so much!

    Suzanna was the first to come up with it, so e-mail me at animejune @ yahoo.ca with your snail mail address for the Valente books (and also which store you’d prefer to have an e-certificate for).

    Thank you! You have two very happy bitches you’ve helped out!

  27. 27
    AnimeJune's mother says:

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!  I was beginning to wonder if I had dreamt this book!!  I must have been 8 or 9 when I first read it. :)

  28. 28
    zinemama says:

    I immediately thought of The Chestry Oak when I read this. I love, love, love Kate Seredy, and that one is particularly good. (I found it in my school library, too.) To this day I cannot read it without crying (and I’m not a crier). The Good Master is excellent, too. But its sequel, The Singing Tree, is pretty much the best kids’ book about war I’ve ever read – its pointlessness, the grief, the shared humanity of all people, no matter which side you’re on (and all without any scenes of battle or violence), just life back home.

  29. 29
    Suzanna says:

    Very happy that I could help you – the satisfaction of solving queries like yours is enormous! I’m away from my usual PC at the moment, but will get in touch next week. I hope it lives up to your mum’s memories – I think it will. I still have a copy, along with The Good Master and The Singing Tree. They’re the kind of books that set off echoes in your head and transcend an age group.

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