Little Known Book Treasures by Jeannette Tulis – A Guest Post

Here is another bookish article by my bookish friend .  I am terrifically busy preparing for camping trips, weddings, and speaking engagements and I haven't had much time to write.  So for now, enjoy the piece by Jeannette where she expands on this post from my blog.

Little Known Book Treasures
When I started to write this, I thought I could make this into a nice little article but not surprisingly as I wrote this, it morphed into a very long piece. That often happens when I start talking about books! 

I love it when someone I admire posts a book list and I already own most or all of the books they list. But I also like it when I find lists of worthy books and included amongst the offerings are books I am not familiar with.

I must admit that I sometimes enjoy reading about books even more than I do actually reading the books. That is why I collect book lists and books on books and books on authors of books, especially children’s books. 

One of my recent finds at this past library book sale was a book I have checked out and pored over in the past. The name of it is A Reader's Delight by Noel Perrin . In this book, the author introduces the reader to many unknown titles which have something in common with more familiar titles. Sort of the idea of if you enjoyed this, you may want to consider this.

There is also a similar book for children’s books titled A Child's Delight , also by Mr. Perrin. I loved both of these books and took extensive notes and found many new book friends both for my children and myself.

Recently a dear friend of mine, Nancy from the Minnesota Prairie posted a booklist on her blog that Jerram Barrs (formerly of the English L’Abri , but now a professor at Covenant seminary) shared at a recent conference. 

Many of the books listed on Mr. Barr’s list are ones I own, have read aloud to my children and love. However he listed quite a few that I have never heard of or at least am not at all familiar with. Because his list included so many favorites and because I have heard him speak and have read his books, I trust his recommendations. So in the spirit of A Reader’s Delight, I have listed here the ones I am not familiar with along with descriptions I have dug up from the web. I offer these believing the titles to be unknown book treasures. Hopefully you can mine many of these at a local library or bookstore, or (if you must) e-book editions.
File:Shardik cover 1974.jpg

1. Shardik by Richard Adams : Mr. Adams is the author of the beloved book Watership Down , one of those books I read aloud to a son and found myself reading ahead because the story was so compelling. My sons always chide me for this! From the description on Amazon, Shardik may be for older readers. I read Watership Down aloud to a 15 yo son.

A reissue of a classic fantasy work by acclaimed author Richard Adams, Shardik is a fantasy of tragic character, centred on the long-awaited reincarnation of the gigantic bear Shardik and his appearance among the half-barbaric Ortelgan people. A gripping tale of war, adventure, horror and romance, Shardik, on a deeper level, is a remarkable exploration of mankind's universal desire for divine incarnation.

2.  The Wizard of Bolland by B.B.

A goose girl and an incompetent and unpleasant wizard get lost in the forest, and gnome miners disturb something that has been asleep under the ground for hundreds of years.

B.B. is the pen name for Denys J. Watkins-Pitchford who supplied all the illustrations for his lovely books. Another of his books, The Little Gray Men won the prestigious  Carnegie Award.  It too appears to be one for my wish list just after reading this description:

Baldmoney, Sneezewort, Dodder, and Cloudberry are the last four gnomes existing in Britain. Until recently, the brothers have lived together in their oak tree home on the banks of the Folly brook. But several months ago, Cloudberry disappeared, and the others eventually decide they must try to find him.

They build a little boat to take them upstream -- and thus begins a magical and captivating adventure filled with surprises. The enchanting gnomes are forced to use all their courage and skill, and their bonds of love for each other are tested right up until the book's dramatic conclusion.

Sadly, most of B.B.’s  books appear to be very difficult to find and expensive this side of the pond. I may have to try an interlibrary loan for these.
File:Coral Island 1893.jpg

I have to admit, I have heard of this author but do not own nor remember reading anything by him.

The Coral Island tells the story of three sailor lads, Ralph, Jack, and Peterkin. When the threesome are are cast ashore after the storm, their first task is to find out whether The Coral Island is inhabited. Their next task is to find a way of staying alive. They go hunting and learn to fish, explore underwater caves and build boats - but then their island paradise is rudely disturbed by the arrival of pirates.

Mr. Ballantyne wrote over 100 books but Coral Island is the most well known and inspired Robert Louis Stevenson among others. Here is a quote from Mr. Ballentyne on encouraging boys.

"Boys [should be] inured from childhood to trifling risks and slight dangers of every possible description, such as tumbling into ponds and off of trees, etc., in order to strengthen their nervous system.... They ought to practise leaping off heights into deep water. They ought never to hesitate to cross a stream over a narrow unsafe plank for fear of a ducking. They ought never to decline to climb up a tree, to pull fruit merely because there is a possibility of their falling off and breaking their necks. I firmly believe that boys were intended to encounter all kinds of risks, in order to prepare them to meet and grapple with risks and dangers incident to man's career with cool, cautious self-possession... -R.M. Ballantyne, The Gorilla Hunters

After reading that, this book goes to the top of my list to read aloud to my son, even though it does make a mom’s heart tremble! Just found out the kindle edition is free.

This book and author is a complete unknown but it appears to be a girl book more than a boy one.

Princess Violetta and Princess Gambetta were so alike in every way that no one can tell them apart until the arrival of Prince Courtesy, whose silver trumpet reveals their true differences.

Sadly, this is very hard to find and expensive if you do. First published in 1925 and re-issued in 1989, it was read and admired by the Inklings.

Another complete unknown to me but not apparently to those down under.

One of Australia's most loved children's books. Brought up in the solitary environment of exclusive boarding schools, Ryl has learned to be independent, but when her mysterious father dies, her whole world changes. Part of her inheritance is a half-share in a dilapidated farm which she shares with a scruffy grandfather she meets for the first time.

Okay, I will stop for now. I must confess while writing this, I ordered a few of these books for myself! Hope you find some treasures.

-Jeannette Tulis


  1. It is interesting to me that there is such a difference between the books read in America and the UK/Australia. I wonder why this is so. Certainly today, books are worldwide bestsellers, so why was it different even in my youth?

    All these books are familiar to me. I loved Shardik and Coral Island, and all of Brinsmead's are classics here! On the other hand, I know of many, even most of your American classics only through AO book lists. Most are not available in Australia even now. I have to purchase from Amazon or Abe!

    Interesting, isn't it? I love talking about books.

    1. I love the idea of worlds of books that we do not even know of yet. What richness awaits in classics in the UK. Are there any really good books on books for children's classics from the U.K.?

  2. I have The Little Gray Men in a Puffin Books copy--I couldn't resist the Edward Ardizzone cover art--but haven't read it yet.

    1. One of these days Mama Squirrel you and I WILL read all those books we have so lovingly collected.

  3. H F Brinsmead's longtime passing and the other longtime books are worth a read, they are based on her childhood and will give you a taste of post war Australian life (both wars) she wrote many books and as with all authors of many titles some are much better than others. Her character studies are very good and in a few sentences you have a very clear picture of the people. This aspect of her writing is worth studying with teen writers. It is worth getting a list of Australian writers from later 18's until now many fine writers and a totally different take on life. Colin Thiele is an absolute must I don't think he wrote a bad book one of Australia's great writers