Subscribe to The Horn Book

Desperately seeking stories

As de facto administrative assistant for the office, I’ve been hearing the name “UNICCO” (the facilities management company here at the Simmons College campus) quite a bit as we get settled into our new space. And it makes me think of nothing so much as…


That is, The Fantastic Adventures of Unico, an early anime film about — surprise, surprise — a baby unicorn with the ability to bring happiness to everyone he meets. I remember Unico fondly and vividly from my ’80s childhood, but by the time I was in college I was convinced I had invented it, since no one else I knew had ever heard of it. (Same with The Adventures of Mark Twain, another weirdo ’80s movie.) Happily, internet searching has proved it’s not a figment of my imagination, and maybe I’ll even get around to watching it again.

In libraries, bookstores, and on sites like “Stump the Bookseller,” there’s an abundance of people hoping to be reunited with a half-remembered book from childhood. Often what hazy memories they do have are of the book’s appearance or their emotional experience of it rather than the more prosaic bibliographic information that would help a bookseller or librarian with the literary detective work. And, like me with Unico, they may eventually conclude it never existed.

Are there any stories or books from your childhood you’ve been looking for? Or have you been reunited with any long-lost loves? A few of mine: The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts, The Wednesday Witch by Ruth Chew, and The Wild Swans retold by Amy Ehrlich and illustrated by Susan Jeffers.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.



  1. I still have my copy of The Wednesday Witch I think!

  2. Would love to find a copy of “The Cookie Tree” by Jay Williams (or at least read it). I can only remember that it was about a magical tree, which apparently grew chocolate cookies. I must have read it and loved it at the same time I loved ‘How Fletcher was Hatched”, “Miss Suzy” , and “Old Black Witch”.

  3. Rebecca Hachmyer says:

    I have always hoped to track down a story that my mom used to read aloud to us (probably a picturebook or early reader?) about a boy who was in competition with a friend that came to visit. All I remember vividly is that at one point they both tried to stay in the sauna for as long as possible. I always attributed it to Judith Viorst so something about the writing style may have had her flavor…..

  4. Someday I’ll Laugh About This by Linda Crew. I read it probably a hundred times when I was younger…I remember it was a book about a girl spending the summer with her out of town cousins at a family beach house. The cousin she’d always been closest to “grew up” since the main character had last seen her, and she was more interested in boys and make-up than anything else. The rest if the details are foggy, but at one point the main character secretly used her cousin’s face wash and nearly exfoliated her face entirely off-she sported a scabby face for awhile. I still think of that book when I’m washing my own face!

  5. Unico in the Island of Magic was one of my favorite movies as a child. I have it on VHS and DVD as well as the first Unico movie on VHS! It IS out there! I just showed it to my kids yesterday, and they loved it! I couldn’t believe the coincidence when I saw this post! The book I want from my childhood was a very old picture book about ducklings learning to swim. Their dad is very hard on them, especially one little duck who I think had a swimming ring. I cannot remember the title or anything else. Also…I have some Unico sketches I have to post!

  6. Melanie Roy says:

    I remember a series with a girl named Katie John. She lived in an old house with a dumb waiter. She and her friends would ride the dumb waiter up and down the floors. I was fascinated by it! The cover had a girl with freckles and two side braids.

  7. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:

    I got a shock of recognition when I started working at a children’s bookstore and saw The Rainbow Goblins on the shelf. Not a “long-lost love,” by any means, as it had always creeped me out—but I WAS glad to know I hadn’t made it up myself! While working at the bookstore I also rediscovered If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow by Cooper Edens. (Apparently weird books made the strongest impressions on me.)

    Thanks for your comments, everybody! Now I’m tempted to see if I can track down all of these books!

  8. The Girl With the Silver Eyes was one of my favorite books growing up! I read it so often the cover fell off

    My long lost book was about a mouse who painted, and everything he painted vanished from the world. My mom hated it. Any leads?

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind