Peanut Butter and Purple Onions

Sounds crazy until you try it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Serendipity

...anyone else ever read the children's book about the dragon named Serendipity? It was one of a series of very slim paperbacks -- I remember others like Kith and Kin, The Gnome from Nome, and The Wheedle on the Needle. As I think about them now, they were thinly-disgused adaptations of Aesop's Fables and other morality stories, but Devorit and I really just liked the pictures. And the silly names, of course.

Another old favorite has been rattling around in my head for a couple of weeks now. I couldn't remember the title and didn't have a clue as to the author. It was one of those British children's books where the protagonist children are sent away for the summer to the countryside, which turns out to be a wonderful mystical place -- you know the kind of book I mean. Summer holidays are rife with magical adventures in the British Isles, it seems.

Anyway, I can only remember fragments about this book. Definitely at least two children were involved, one boy for sure. Something about gardens, and an evil witch in the garden next door, and a gate that she couldn't cross. Blackberry canes, which I didn't understand (I pictured candy canes entwined with blackberry vines), and ash keys, which also made no sense. Early in the book, the children, bored, try to toast marshmallows by stringing them on a thread with a needle and dangling it over a fire, but the fire goes out and leaves a scorch mark on the ground. I think their beds turned into boats in the middle of the night. And later, in trying to escape from the evil witch, the boy does something with rowan berries and a piece of string that has been dyed red with the blood from his skinned knee. I remembered the magical rhyme -- "rowan berries and red thread, stop a witch in her speed." (And I remembered being annoyed that the "rhyme" didn't, at least in my American accent.)

But I didn't know the title or author, and so I didn't have the first clue how to find this book. On a whim, I typed the magical rhyme into Google. Three hyperlinks later, I was looking at a copy of the book on eBay.

None of this has anything to do with cooking, really, but I'm so happy with the magic of the internet, that I just wanted to share. And to suggest that if you are lucky enough to have a copy of Timothy and the Two Witches by Margaret Storey, go and re-read it. I can't wait.

7 Comments:

  • At 6:12 PM, Blogger Devorit said…

    I must admit I still have a very fond place in my heart for "The Muffin Muncher."

    So you actually got a copy? I think I remember you talking about this book . . .do you remember the hard cover one with the blue and brown two-toned cover where the kids find a magic kingdom out in the woods, I think . . .sounds very Narnia-esque *g*

     
  • At 7:19 PM, Blogger BNA said…

    No, it's 40 quid on eBay right now, which even in my nostalgia seems a bit high. I'll keep an eye out for other copies. Don't remember that one that you're referring to...

     
  • At 6:04 PM, Blogger kitchenmage said…

    is the wheedle on the needle? i know just what you're thinking... but if you look up late at night, you'll see his red nose blinking...

    nope, never heard of them... ;-)

    seriously, it was a local press and i had a baby when they were in their prime... while there was an element of Aesop, they also held wonders of the northwet--the wheedle being prime... (do you have any idea how excited a four year old can be when they SEE the wheedle's blinking nose as you drive by the needle? well worth the price of the books)

     
  • At 10:53 AM, Blogger BNA said…

    Yay, Kitchenmage! I'm so glad someone else remembers those books. I had no idea that they were a Northwest local press, but now that you mention it, I do remember lots of NW influences...and wasn't there some character named Large Marge, Sarge of the Barge?

    Too cool.

     
  • At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    They are the Serendipity books by Steven Cosgrove and Robin James. And yes, there is one featuring Large Marge (Captain Smudge, I think it was), and about the Wheedle on the Needle, and Leo the Lop, and so many more! I used to bring one about a messy little critter in for show-and-tell every year in elementary school, but I can't find it's title anywhere.

     
  • At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Nola said…

    I know this thread is older than old, but I just had to share this with you...

    I have been scouring my brain (and Googling myself into a coma) trying to find the name of the book about the boy who goes to stay with Melinda (or is it Malinda? Meh, whatever) and she's a witch, blah blah blah. I was having NO luck until, from out of the recesses of my frazzled brain, I remembered the rhyme about the rowan berries. I googled THAT and hit the link for your site where, lucky for me, you had the book title RIGHT. THERE! I can now sleep again (I'm SO that person that will NOT let something go once it's lodged in my head... like the lyrics to a song or the name of an actor from a movie? I hate it when that happens.) thanks to you.

    And I'm now going to see if I can order that stupid book before I forget it again. For my 8 year old, of course. *coughs*

     
  • At 9:58 PM, Blogger Uncle Dave said…

    We read the Serendipity books over and over to our daughters back in the 80's. Then we passed them on to the older one when she had a family.
    At get-togethers we sometimes talk about "the old days", you know, remember when...? and who was...?

     

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