Friday, 31 August 2012

Can you help identify this book?

I receive lots of emails from people searching for books based on fragments of information. Sometimes I recognise the book immediately, but more often than not I don’t have a clue. Searching through reference books and online often turns up the answer but not this time, I’m completely stumped, and I’m hoping you might be able to help.

Does this ring any bells?

Bright red and orange nasturtiums growing over the roof of a cottage are mistaken for a fire. Nearby villagers call the local fire brigade to put out the flames.

This didn’t mean anything to me, so I visited the BookSlueth forum on ABE books, and one of the lovely people there came up with this; 

Patty Wolcott, The Forest Fire, (1974). An Addisonian Press book, published by Addison-Wesley in 1974, this story tells the tale of some forest animals who mistake some bright flowers for a fire.

But that doesn’t sound quite right - so do you have any other ideas? 

I get numerous requests from people looking for titles of long lost books. I’m always happy to help and often recognise the book – but not always. That’s when this website is useful It’s an excellent resource where you post a vague description of the book and get lots of people trying to come up with the title. The people that use the forum have a wealth of knowledge, and usually someone knows something! Loganberry Books have a stump the bookseller section that is always fun to visit. is also worth a try, put a brief description in the keyword search and see what comes up – you might just be lucky.  

Juliet in the field of Nasturtiums; picture from Pinterest

Just as I finished putting this post together I was asked to help find another book. And what do you know – this one has me stumped too!

Does this mean anything to you? Hardback book without dust jacket approximately the same size as a Ladybird book (four-and-a-half by seven inches/11.5cm by 18cm). Published around 1959 -1962. The story is about a Cherry Fairy. At night, the cherries are sour but in the morning, they are sweet and juicy.  I think it's going to be quite difficult to find because all searches with fairies and fruit inevitably point to Cicely Mary Barker or Margret Tarrant, but the person looking for the book is certain it's not by either of them.

Thanks for calling in. Please leave a comment if you have an idea about either of these books, or if you know of other great places to search, or if you just want to get something of your chest! All comments appreciated. Barbara


The wonderful Michelle from Vintage Cobweb recognised the nasturtium story and came up with the title and the series, thank you Michelle you’re good at this! Thanks are also due to Kylie from Lucy Violet Vintage for pointing out that the story was in a school reader probably published in the 70s, and for reminding me that the nasturtiums were growing in a pair of boots. The person looking for the book did tell me that, but I didn't jot it down and had forgotten all about it. Thank you both very much.

In case you’ve not read the comments the nasturtiums story is from the school reader, Dick and Dora, happy venture books. I’ve passed the information on together with a link to ABE books where there are a few copies for sale. So I think we can mark that one as solved!

Update October, 2014 

Michelle from Vintage Cobweb kindly suggested the story was in one of the Dick and Dora Happy Venture Playbooks.  These were a series of primary school reading books, very much like the Janet and John, Peter and Jane, or Topsy and Tim series. The problem is I still don’t know which of the Dick and Dora books the story is in.  I’ve contacted several booksellers who have them for sale but so far none have had the time to look to see if the story is in the books they have.

Since this post was published it’s also been suggested the story could be in one of a series of books by Fred J. Schonell co-written with Phyllis Flowerdew, which might have been for the American market. They were called Wide Range Readers as opposed to the Happy Venture Readers. One of the stories is about the man who grew nasturtiums in his boots that subsequently covered his entire house. 

Another lady emailed to say she thinks the story is called The Nasturtiums which grew too big for their boots.

I also received a very nice email from Eleanor, who would like to add that despite not knowing the title or author, she remembers reading the book in primary school, and as she is in her sixties, it must have been published before the 1970s. 


Susan, the lady looking for the Cherry Fairy has provided some more information and is happy for me to share it here;

The Cherry Fairy paints the cherries overnight, so that is how they ripen... It was a real page-turner!!  As I turned the page, there they were all rich dark cherry colour!   I remember noticing the reflections in the images (seeming white marks on the dark cherry). Example image attached.  As I draw and paint, I realise that I was able to see in an artists way at that time, just naturally.

Style-wise it was very 1950s; rather like the book you reviewed recently “The Impatient Horse” – that had the feel of The Cherry Fairy book.That is why I probably thought it wasn’t a Ladybird book, yet as we had those, it may well have been, before they became so branded. It will probably end up being more like “What fun – an Invitation to a party”!It was most definitely that illustration style/time.

Update October 2015; The Nasturtiums that were too proud for their boots.

I’m very grateful to Frank for sending the following information and scans.

The Nasturtiums that were too proud for their boots comes from The Happy Venture Readers - Book 4 written by Fred Schonell and illustrated by Kiddell-Monroe. First Published in 1959.   Frank still has many of the books he read at school, and remembers reading this one in 1969. He is kindly sharing the images here in the hope they will bring back memories for other people. 

I do love a happy ending, and I am thrilled to be able to share this with readers of my blog. Thanks Frank!

Thanks as always for any help/comments.


  1. This so reminds me of a verly early reading book from primary school. It turns out the fire is actually nasturtims that have been planted by the owner of the cottage in a pair of old boots kept by the front door. It's probably not the story you refer to, but you've certainly triggered a memory Barbara.We're talking mid 70's btw.

  2. Hi Barbara, Interesting read again! Ta for that! As to the books, sorry can't help. Now about your kind offer to get something off my chest. Well its like this...
    Theres nought on the old tea chest we use to store the odd socks from the washing machine. The chest freezer top is clear and theres nothing down me shirt to worry about. You could have some dust off the telly if that would help?
    Hope you have a lovely weekend.....

  3. barbaraannefisher31 August 2012 at 11:05

    I’m sure that’s the one. Now if you could only remember the title! The person looking for the book did mention the nasturtiums growing in a pair of boots, but I had forgotten all about that until I read your comment. I didn't think about an early reader, that is really very helpful, thanks so much.

  4. barbaraannefisher31 August 2012 at 11:11

    I’ve got quite enough dust of my own thank you! Thanks for the :-)
    Have a good weekend.

  5. Hi again Barbara, I'm almost certain it wasn't a stand alone story but in an 'anthology' if you could call it that. You know the kind of thing I mean. Your teacher would set you one story to read each night for homework and there was a series of them. Definetely published in the U.K. I know that much x

  6. barbaraannefisher31 August 2012 at 14:21

    I think that’s what is making it harder to find, but your clues will definitely help. Thanks ago.

  7. Well, you know me. I'm not very good at identifying lost books. Thank you for listing all these sources though. You sure do know a lot about books, and it surprises me that there are so many mystery books out there.

  8. barbaraannefisher31 August 2012 at 19:34

    I'm not so sure about that Donna, but it's very nice of you to say so. I don't think anyone can ever know a lot about books, there are just so many of them!

  9. Hi Barbara

    The Nasturtiums fire story is from the school readers, Dick and Dora, Happy Adventures Book.
    The other books rings a bell, I'll think on it for a while.

  10. I was in a hurry when I typed the Dick and Dora reply.

    That should read HAPPY VENTURE and The other BOOK.
    I have some Happy Venture books and will dig them out.

  11. barbaraannefisher1 September 2012 at 09:23

    Thanks Michelle you are amazing!

  12. Hi Barbara

    I just found your website on the Enid Blyton Society website under lashings of links, I go in there from time to time and have never noticed your link before.

  13. barbaraannefisher1 September 2012 at 11:12

    That's great, thanks Michelle!

  14. Hi Barbara - I'm glad to see you have an answer about the nasturtium book - (I popped in earlier but came back again now when I had more time to write a comment.) I wish I could help you with the other one (the cherry fairy). I keep feeling its something I should know, its the type of book I had when I was small and it is the correct time period. All that comes to mind though is a very strange story about a strawberry fairy (who turned out to be rather nasty!) but nothing about cherries!

    Sometime I must ask you to put out an appeal for the 12 Days of Christmas book I'm looking for (also 60's) I think I've mentioned it to you before. It had very unusual illustrations in a medieval theme. I think the people had slanted blank eyes - I've a similar book on the Nutcracker - I'll show it to you sometime

  15. barbaraannefisher1 September 2012 at 17:40

    Hi Sharon, I know what you mean about the cherry fairy - something is nagging at me, but I just don't know what!

    Maybe you could do a post about the 12 days of Christmas, and then (with your permission) I could put an excerpt of your post, with the illustration from the nutcracker and a link back to your site. I’m sure you would do a better post about it than I could because it's something very special to you. I’m happy to do that, or if you prefer just send an email with the picture, and I will do a post like the one above.

    If you do want to email I now have a fancy ‘email me’ button in the right-hand column so it should make it easier. Barbara.

  16. Barbara, you're like a library, even if you don't know which books the information is from, you always know which direction to point a seeker to. :)

  17. I'm so glad someone remembered. It's so much fun to know the title. It's like a mystery solved, and who doesn't love a great mystery?

  18. I love a good mystery- but I am stumped, too. I hope someone out there will be able to help. How amazing that you were able to get an answer about the nasturtium book. If I think of anything- I will let you know!

  19. barbaraannefisher3 September 2012 at 09:01

    Claudine G has left a new comment on your post

    Barbara, you're like a library, even if you don't know which books the information is from, you always know which direction to point a seeker to. :)

    Hi Claudine, I’ve posted your comment like this because Blogger refuses to post it - I have no idea why - but he's not getting away with it.
    I always wanted to be a librarian! Do you think I’ve found my niche in life?

  20. barbaraannefisher3 September 2012 at 10:46

    Thanks Stephanie, it’s a difficult one, but I hope someone will come up with the answer. Michelle is going to go on looking and if anyone can find it Michelle can!

  21. barbaraannefisher3 September 2012 at 10:47

    Hi Donna, I love a mystery - but it's nicer knowing the answer.

  22. How fabulous every time our nasturtiums come out I always think of this book and reading it when I was in infant school 😊 Today I decided to google it and found this site thank you so much for the lovely memories 🤗 By the way I'm 65 and 3/4 years young x

    1. Hello there, I’m so pleased you found my blog and enjoyed the memories. It’s my 69th birthday in a month’s time! I find it hard to believe I’m nearly 70! That sounds like such a frightening number, maybe I will just keep claiming to be 69 for the next 10 years. Thanks for leaving a comment, Barbara.

  23. Hi there -
    I was wondering if I could borrow some of the nasturium reader photos for a post on my blog? ? I'm doing all things Fire & Fire fighter type books and I remembered part of the story. Great that I found your post here. Thanks for letting me know. :) Deborah

    1. Hello Deborah, I have no problem with that, but they are not my images. They were kindly sent to me by a reader of my blog. I’ve tried to find his email address but after a computer meltdown in 2016, I lost the majority of my archived emails and images and the one from ‘Frank’ was among them. It was very kind of you to ask for permission, and I wish I could just say yes, but I don’t feel I can do so. I must leave it up to you to decide what you should do. Sorry I could not be of more help, Barbara.

    2. Hi Barbara - Just an up-date on the borrowed images. I have (per my response to your email) used the images and they are here on this posts with two other books for your reference. Warm wishes, Deborah

    3. Thanks Deborah, I will be over to take a look.

  24. I've been trying to think of the name of this book also, for years. I remember it from my childhood from around the early 60's. I've always thought it was part of the 'Golden books' collection, but I guess I now stand corrected. I do remember the story though, and Nasturtiums have always been a favourite flower for me ever since. Thank you so much for posting this. Hard part now is to find a copy to see if I can jolt some old memory cells back to life and a little more vividly. Thank you Barbara...... George.

    1. Hello George, I love Nasturtiums too and must think about planting some seeds next year. I've just done a search at ( and there are a couple of copies for sale. Just remember you need Book Four as there are copies of Book Three etc., also available. Otherwise you could try hunting at book fairs, flea markets and so on you just might be lucky. Best wishes Barbara

  25. Isn't interesting how these things can remain in your memory. I had someone ask if I grew nasturtiums. On asking I recalled this book which I thought was called The Red Nasturtiums. It's been more than 60 years since I read this or had it read to me, but I still recall the sequence of events in the story. :)

    1. It's images with me. I see a picture from a book I read or had read to me in my bedroom ‘at home’ and I’m transported back through the years. I almost feel like I’m right back there remembering how I felt all those years ago.

  26. I remember the Nasturtiums that grew to big for their boots.Early 50s

    1. It seems you are not alone. So many people remember them.

  27. I read this book with my mother anout 1960 and have never forgotten it. Thank you for bringing it back for me. After reading it we planted nasturiums in our front garden, it was great fun and I have grown them since. Such happy memories!

  28. Thank you so much for commenting. It is lovely when a post reminds someone of their childhood. My mum grew nasturiums too and they hold a special place in my heart now. Barbara


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Barbara xx