Earlier today, I was thinking. This is something that I do very frequently, although my sisters may argue against that assertion. I thought to myself, “Remember those books that were really hilarious that I used to read all the time?” The answer was yes, I did remember, but I didn’t remember the name of the series. In fact, I hardly remembered anything about those books except that they were hilarious and that I used to read them all the time. As I thought about those hilarious books, it occurred to me that it would be fun to make a list of all the storybooks that impacted my childhood greatly, but that I have since almost (but not quite) forgotten. So I started making such a list, and then I realized that it would end up being ridiculously long. As it is, this incomplete list took me a really long time to write.

It is worth noting that my childhood consisted of much Dr. Suess, Nancy Drew, American Girls, Golden Arch books, and various classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Heidi, The Hobbit, The Wizard of Oz, and The Secret Garden, just to name a few. These did not make the list because I did not almost forget them.

1. The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

As much as I enjoyed Nancy Drew, I would argue that the Boxcar Children books are the ultimate children’s detective story series. Not only are they interesting, but unlike Nancy Drew, they each have a unique plot. Sometimes you know ahead of time who the bad guy is and sometimes you don’t, but it’s always a fun read in the meantime. Besides that, the characters are very likable. Here’s a link to one of them that I owned, although I don’t actually remember it very well.

2.The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, by Debbie Dadey and Marcia T. Jones

Technically, these books aren’t really of the same caliber as most of the other books on the list, and I seem to recall that my parents didn’t entirely approve of them, just because they weren’t very intellectual books. But they were interesting. The protagonists are four elementary school kids who keep on encountering odd people who they suspect to be some sort of mythical creature.  The books never make it entirely clear whether or not the kids are correct, but there usually is evidence that seems fairly conclusive. There’s only one book in the series that I remember very well; it’s called Gargoyles Don’t Drive School Buses.

3. Linnets and Valerians, by Elizabeth Goudge

I remember my father reading this book to me and at least one or two of my siblings when we were little, but unfortunately I remember very little about the plot. The protagonists were children who had run away and end up staying with an old man who I think was their grandfather or uncle or something. And there was an owl and a character named Emma who was either an evil witch or somebody really good, I don’t remember which. And someone- either Emma or someone else- did voodoo. That’s it; that’s all I remember. But it was a very interesting book.

4. The King, the Mice, and the Cheese, by Nancy and Eric Gurney

There’s this king guy, and he really likes cheese. The problem is that the mice keep stealing his cheese, and they’re driving him crazy. So he calls in his advisors and they bring him cats to chase away the mice. That works out nicely, except that then the cats are driving him crazy. So he calls in his advisors and they bring him dogs to chase away the cats. That works out nicely, except that then the dogs are driving him crazy. So he calls in his advisors and they bring him lions to chase away the dogs. That works out nicely, except that then the lions are driving him crazy. So he calls in his advisors and they bring him elephants to chase away the lions. That works out nicely, except that then the elephants are driving him crazy. So he calls in his advisors and they bring him mice to chase away the elephants. That works out nicely, except that then the mice are driving him crazy. “Goodness gracious,” says the king, “This is the same problem as I had before!” So he and the mice decide to share the cheese and get along like friends, and they live happily ever after. The end.

Or something like that.

5. The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

I had completely forgotten about this one until just now. Great Camaduka, I loved that book. It’s about a boy who works for a goldsmith in ancient Egypt. I actually remember more about the plot of this, but I think it was a mystery, and I can’t remember which parts are supposed to be a surprise, so I’m not going to say any more about it. But it’s a great book.

6. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham

I don’t remember much about this one, either. The protagonist, Nathaniel Bowditch, was a real historical person, if I recall correctly. He was a 18th century American sailor who made great contributions to navigation. But this book isn’t really a biography; the story is told in novel form.

7. The Gymnasts series, by Elizabeth Levy

‘Tis a sad thing that these books are out of print. They were already out of print when my sister and I were reading them, which made it very difficult for my parents to find them and give them to us as birthday/Christmas gifts. But somehow, they did find most of them. I spent several years of my life being very fascinated by gymnastics. Here’s a link to the first book in the series.

8. The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments, by Arnold Lobel

This book tells the story of a wizard who lived in a world where there was no such thing as color, which was kind of boring. This is a problem, so the wizard invents blueness and paints everything blue, and there is great happiness. But alas, blue is a sad color, so the world becomes a sad place. “Goodness me,” says the wizard, “this is not cool.” So he invents redness and paints everything red, and there is great happiness. But alas, red is an angry color, so the world becomes an angry place. “Goodness me,” says the wizard, “this is not cool.” So he invents yellowness and paints everything yellow, and there is great happiness. But alas, the yellowness gives everyone a headache. “Goodness me,” says the wizard, “this is not cool.” But he has run out of clever ideas and has no more colors to invent. Then he accidentally kicks over his buckets of blueness, redness, and yellowness, and they mix together in a giant colorful whirlpool. “Awesomeness!” says the wizard, and proceeds to paint everything in a variety of different colors. “How interesting,” say all the people. And the world is full of color and everyone likes it and lives happily ever after. The end.

9. The Anastasia Krupnik series, by Lois Lowry

I can’t remember exactly what it was that I liked so much about these books, but I read them all, some of them many times. There are a few particular scenes that randomly come to mind every now and then. Just the other day, I was thinking about one part of the first book where Anastasia is talking to her father about a Wordsworth poem. The series isn’t as intellectual as that one scene might make it seem, but the characters are intelligent and slightly nerdy people, and that is probably one of the reasons I like those books.

10. The Clue series, by A. E. Parker

These books are loosely based on the board game, and when I say loosely, I mean very loosely. The characters have the same names as the characters in the board game, and the books are (kind of) mysteries, but there the similarities end. I actually remember almost nothing at all about the plots, except that most of the chapters of each book were fairly independent of the other chapters and could be read as short stories in their own rights. What I do remember well is the personality of each of the characters. They were all very exaggerated and silly, and I think that I was subconsciously influenced by them when I characterized some of my favorite dolls.

11 Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar

It is absolutely necessary that I find this book and its sequels and read them. I really loved them. Each chapter was essentially a short story of its own, and every single one was extremely entertaining. They were also very, very weird. But, most importantly, they were cleverly written.

12. Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol

Another really awesome children’s detective story series. Each of the Encyclopedia Brown books consists of several short stories in which the title character solves a puzzling case. The story doesn’t explain his thought process, though; you have to turn to a separate page in the back of the book to find that, which gives you an opportunity to think it through for yourself.

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