Fairy Tale Fortnight and the 80s Picture Book Mystery

Fairy Tale Fortnight April 17th - April 30th

Fairy Tale Fortnight started up on the 17th. The event is hosted by both The Book Rat and Basically Amazing Books.

There’s a lot of great posts and giveaways on their blogs so definitely check them out! My review for Winter’s Child: a retelling of “The Snow Queen” by Cameron Dokey can be found here

Another post about my Top 10 Favorite Fairy Tale characters will go up eventually and I’ll link to it when it does.

Now on to the 80s Picture Book Mystery!

I wanted to post about fairy tales here, but the more I thought about the fairy tales, the more I found myself thinking of a picture book that basically meant everything to me as a kid. I remember only bits and pieces and amazing illustrations now. Over the years it’s definitely harder to remember a book you haven’t seen since you were probably eight years old. But I was positive it was about Spring being stolen away by some evil wizard and this little brownie/trollish gardener and his magic mentor have to go save Spring. And then there was this staff with a green stone that gets passed on from one to the other.

The whole thing was brilliant, 80s, and very Celtic/Tolkienesque in a way. It was unique. It was scary, strange, and beautiful. And, like most books I loved growing up, it was destroyed in a flood in the early 1990s. Which is sad in of itself, but I swear this picture book influenced me a lot somehow. It shaped my idea of how colors relate to seasons and the elements and magic more than anything else ever did. It made me really obsess over Peresphone and Hades later on, it was definitely my idea of the perfect fantasy quest, and it is the only book whose title I could not remember to save my life.

It got to the point where thinking about it just made me sad and angry because even the internet could not help me find this book. Eventually I decided that it did not seem to exist and decided it was better not to think about this imagined book. But around this time each year when spring definitely seems to be trapped in some kind of underworld, I would pine for this book that apparently was something I made up. My sisters had no idea what I was talking about since they are both younger than I am, my mother had no idea since she read me a lot of 80s picture books growing up, and my father reads too much to remember what he has or hasn’t read as it is.

So with the freak rainstorms, the weather being all over the place, and fairy tales on the brain, I thought to myself that really I need to figure out if this book is real or not. So I went over whatever yahoo questions I could find, wishing they would all stop pointing to Kit William’s Book Without a Name which might include seasons but does not include short gnomish trolls going on an epic quest of sorts.

But then today something unexpectedly awesome happened. By googling the name of the book that I didn’t want and adding the word “spring” to my search, I found this thread from 2008 and some awesome person named mollys found the book! And then I saw MY PICTURE BOOK and rejoiced! Okay, I found it and cried a little because I’m a girl but huzzah it does exist!

Jack in the Green by Allen Atkinson

This is EXACTLY the book I was looking for with exactly the right strange little brownie-troll man on the cover with the green stone in his staff. And let’s face it. That cover screams 80s fantasy, which means it is definitely from my childhood.

The most awesome part of this is that after years of being able to find books for other people with absolutely no information to go, I finally was able to do that for myself. So I will definitely be buying a copy of Jack in the Green and also checking it out from one of the libraries near me that magically still owns it. And I will probably die from sheer joy when I finally hold it in my hands. And possibly cry again.

This doesn’t have as much to do with fairy tales as I intended for it too, but books in of themselves are magical. Besides, this is a bit of a cautionary tale in that you never know what books will matter to you twenty years from now. So write titles down or find other ways to try to keep track of your books as well as whatever you end up getting for your kids!


About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
This entry was posted in Bookish Announcement, Bookish Nostalgia, Bookish Thoughts, Picture Book, Review and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fairy Tale Fortnight and the 80s Picture Book Mystery

  1. Ms. Max says:

    April, do you know anything about the illustrator of your book, Allen Atkinson. I have a calender (dated 1984) of pictures Atkinson ilustrated from Beatrix Potter’s Peter the Rabbit story. I’ve scanned all the pages of the calendar and put them in a folder marked Atkinson, Allen, and when I make folders I like to put the dates of the person as a reference. But I’ve been unable to located anything about Allen except a few titles of other books he’s illustrated including Jack in the Green. Thank you for any leads or info you might have. Ms. Max

  2. Brian says:

    Sorry Ms. Max, but Allen Atkinson passed away in the 1980s soon after this charming book was released.

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