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Nullo's avatar

Can you help me find this barely-remembered children's book?

Asked by Nullo (21828 points ) December 21st, 2012

It was large and spiral-bound and generally brown, and had a picture of a gnome (similar to the garden variety, but with more of a Smurf-like hat) on the front.
As best I can recall, it was a collection of short stories making up an overall arc, rather like The Wind In The Willows. None of it is especially dramatic.
The reader is introduced to the gnomes early on, as well as a bunch of what I suppose are non-Tolkien elves that build elaborate contraptions to avoid work, and dress all in green. At some point they establish contact and later an alliance with the fairies. Then at one point we meet the dragon civilization through one of its less-fortunate members; I think that he gets captured, but I’m not sure.

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12 Answers

glacial's avatar

@Nullo Are you certain that the characters were gnomes? The first image that came to my mind on reading this was of brownies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownie_(folklore) ), who are very industrious little folk. The link should include a closing parenthesis; you might have to type it in at the end of the address.

Probably the best known book about brownies is Brownies and Other Stories, by Mrs. Ewing (c. 1871). There have been many printed versions, but I notice that this one, illustrated by EH Shepherd (of Winnie-the-Pooh fame) depicts dwarves all in green. I remember having this book as a child, but honestly, it’s too far back for me to remember the dwarves, or what other folk might have been included. A little more research might yield an answer – I’ll check in again tomorrow if it rings any bells. An image search shows (predictably) that some editions had brown covers; my guess is that it had many more covers than a google search can possibly show.

Do you think this might be it?

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hearkat's avatar

First hit is the author, Wil Huygen, who wrote several books and stories about Gnomes.

But your description brought to mind stories I read as a child, and the above doesn’t strike me as being them, so the quest continues…

skfinkel's avatar

You might try calling a real person at a huge bookstore, like Powell’s in Portland, OR. Those people can be great resources, if no one at Fluther knows.

glacial's avatar

I think I may have found it. There is a series of books by Tony Wolf about the “woodland folk” – each book includes their adventures with a different group (e.g. fairies, gnomes, elves, dragons, etc.). Here is a link to a synopsis of the gnome book, which matches your description, and I think it was the first of the series (in 1984).

The whole series was collected as “Tales from Woodland”. I can’t find a cover image anywhere (annoyingly, there is another book with the same title that does pop up readily), but it sounds like the sort of thing that might have been spiral bound.

The elves appear to be dressed all in green (popping out of the tree trunk in this cover).

_Whitetigress's avatar

so which is it?! been following this thread.

Nullo's avatar

@glacial That’s it! Not the exact book that I had, but those are my gnomes. Google Image-checking the author turns up some familiar illustrations, too.

After digging, it looks like mine was one of those Complete Collection things.

Thanks to the rest of you for trying!

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hearkat's avatar

@Nullo – now I feel old. I graduated High School in 1984, when those books first came out.

Judi's avatar

I’m hiring @glacial for my next research project.

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