Top 4 Under-Read/Out-Of-Print Favorites

Yesterday, during the long car ride to university, I was reminiscing about my favorite childhood books. Like other children, I loved Harry Potter, Beezus and Ramona, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But there were also other books that I loved as a child that are either under-read or out-of-print. My top 4 under-read/out-of-print favorites are listed below:

1) Richard Brown and the Dragon by Robert Bright

7144503-LI did not know this as a child, but Richard Brown and the Dragon is a retelling of a story by Mark Twain from A Tramp Abroad. Unfortunately, Richard Brown and the Dragon is out-of-print. Both the illustrations and the story are delightful. Richard Brown is a bucket-maker who is making a secret invention to destroy the dragon that killed Princess Rossile’s suitor and continues to terrorize Richard’s village.  This clever invention adds a humorous twist to the ol’ dragon adventure. You can purchase a used copy from an Amazon bookseller for 3-5 dollars.

2) Bearskin by Howard Pyle

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Like Richard Brown and the Dragon, I did not know that Bearskin belonged to an anthology of Howard Pyle fairy-tales called The Wonder Clock. It is also a more child-appropriate retelling of a Grimms’ tale of the same name. The edition that my mother bought me contains illustrations by the Caldecott Medal winner Trina Schart Hyman (a sample is above). Bearskin is about a miller’s son who is raised by a bear and therefore has the necessary courage to fight a three-headed dragon. But he needs more than just his strength to defeat the monster and win the hand of a princess.

3) The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom

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The Secret Language got me through many sleepless nights as a child. The story is about a girl named Victoria North who goes to boarding school for the first time and experiences home-sickness. But her miseries come to an end when she meets Martha Sherman. Martha and Victoria soon become friends and invent a secret language to communicate with one another. We all need a good friend to get us through the sad and frightening moments in our lives. Once again, The Secret Language is out-of-print, but used copies are available.

4) My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

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Elmer Elevator runs away from home and climbs aboard a ship with the express purpose of saving a baby dragon he heard about in a story. This one also got me through sleepless nights. My Father’s Dragon won the Newbery Honor in 1949, and is available in the public domain. It is also the first book of a trilogy. Book 2 is Elmer and the Dragon and Book 3 is The Dragons of Blueland. I believe I have read all three books. Here is a sample of the illustrations from My Father’s Dragon (the illustrator is Ruth Chrisman Gannett):

 

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6 thoughts on “Top 4 Under-Read/Out-Of-Print Favorites

    • I do feel sad. I spent years trying to remember what the name of the first book listed was. I finally found the title. Richard Brown and the Dragon is such a fun adventure story and the illustrations are beautiful. Thankfully, there are places online where cheap used copies are available. I definitely would like to purchase another copy as I misplaced the one I read as a child. I love coming across vintage children’s books. What readers and publishers expect from children’s literature has changed quite a lot since the early 20th century. For example, it used to be somewhat given that children’s authors would include poetry in their books. Today, poetry in children’s books is quite rare. I learned to enjoy poetry through the stories of Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll. Anyway, I’m going off a tangent which probably means I should make a post about the evolution of children’s books/what I miss about older works/what I love about newer works.

      What were/are your favorite children’s books? Were they written in English, French, etc?

      • Oh,go ahead! It’ll be great to know how children literature has evolved! I also noticed that there is a lack of illustrations in today’s books,when they used to be absolute requisites in the past!

        In my country,we have a poor reading culture,but luckily I was always surrounded with books.I used to read ”Le Journal de Mickey”,”Mickey Parade Geant”,”Super Picsou Geant”,a variety of fairy tales in French,and ”Les Aventures de Cadichon”.When I was a kid,I read mostly in French and,as result of having no internet and no connection to the other end of the world,had no idea who Roal Dahl was!

        I’m however catching up now.I recently received my set of the adventures of Alice,Screwtape Letters and the Fairy Tales of Perrault.I already took pictures and started writing a post,but in the end,decided to delete everything; the pics were not good enough to my taste! I will however try to share pics of them in the future!

  1. I haven’t heard of the first 3, but I own My Father’s Dragon and the sequels. I didn’t read them as a child, rather I read them to my children. They are wonderful first chapter books.
    I recently read two lovely middle grade books that I had never heard of before (so I’m guessing they’re under-read ). Time at the Top and it’s sequel All In Good Time by Edward Ormondroyd. They’re about a girl from the 1960s who accidentally travels back in time.

    • Ooh. Never heard of Time at the Top. I definitely want to give that a go. I have unfortunately misplaced my copies of My Father’s Dragon and the other books in the series. It’s got to be somewhere in my family’s house. These are books I want to repurchase so that I can re-read them for myself and someday share them with my children.

  2. I love both My Father’s Dragon (much better than the sequels, although they’re good too) and most books by Howard Pyle. The other two, I hadn’t heard of before. Thanks for the introduction!

    My favourite out-of-print book from childhood is Sinbad and Me by Kin Platt. The story of a boy and his dog and their adventures; lots of excitement and mystery. My paperback copy is all yellowed and falling apart. I’d love to pick up another copy but, boy, are they expensive!

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