Every several years, I embark on a fruitless search to find a particular book I once read and enjoyed when I was about my daughter's age (9). The search renews whenever I have a new crop of librarians and/or children's book specialists of one stripe or another available in my life—in the most recent instance, a week ago, the amazing former Bank Street librarian, Lisa von Drasek. Sadly, the search always ends in failure.
This is not the book I'm looking for (although, LVD, please know it was a noble guess, the closest yet):
Neither is this—not even close, not by a long shot:
And neither is this:
Although honestly, this one didn't come as any shock at all, since the book I'm looking for must have been written in the '60s or '70s and Annie Barrows is a thoroughly contemporary author. It was just a dream, the wisp of a hope of a dream, persistently unrequited.
I'm not sure why it's so important to me to rediscover this book. It couldn't have been one of my favorites, seeing as how I can't even remember its title, I never owned it–just took it out of the library, once–and this means I never re-read it. The only thing I remember about it is one critical scene, in which the protagonist brings a concoction of herbs to a sundial in an overgrown garden, in order to travel back in time. I'm guessing it wasn't otherwise much of a book (how else to account for the ignorance of whole teams of kid lit experts?). But still I persist; I hate a lingering literary mystery and plus, my daughter is a dedicated potion concocter–something tells me she'd love, if not this whole book, at least that one potion-related scene in the weed-filled garden.
Meanwhile, unrelated to magical gardens and time travel, I offer this book as my pick of the week:
It's probably not the greatest book ever written, and it's certainly dated. But in its favor are a tiny, magical talking dog; a covetous collection of miniature bejeweled wind-up animals with various abilities; and yes, as the title pretty much screams, flying in the house. After 45 years of living, I still wish I could do that.