The cover of this book made me smile when I came upon it. The greens and oranges punch out appealingly. And what more would you want from a juvenile fiction1 title than the word "Mystery" and images of adventuring children, an old house with a green roof and a bearded little man (or leprechaun?) wielding a club menacingly? Adventure awaits!
It's "Mystery at Long Barrow House", written by Nancy Faulkner2 and published in 1960 by Doubleday & Company. The book is a discard from Carnegie Public Library3 in Fortville, Indiana.
The opening passage:
"But, Mums, why can't I at least polish the silver? Even Mrs. Miggs wouldn't expect me to break a silver teapot." Becky Webster's face was pulled into a frowning knot and she sound like a petulant child.The book also features a dog named Mr. McGillicuddy, and the bearded antagonist calls himself Georgie the Ox. Georgie is described as looking like Rumpelstiltskin and he tells the children that his job is to protect the house, which belongs to "The Ancient Ones."4
My mind is always racing and making connections. One day after I came upon this book cover, I saw that Peter Jackson posted the below pair of pre-production images from his upcoming two-film adaptation of "The Hobbit" on his Facebook page.
I love the similarities between the bearded men and the barrow-like dwellings!
1. Today we would call this a Young Adult title, and it would probably be turned into a series.
2. Faulkner's other titles include Journey Into Danger, Sword of the Winds, The Secret of the Simple Code, Knights Besieged, Mystery of the Limping Stranger, Small Clown, Small Clown and Tiger, Pirates Quest, and The Witch with the Long, Sharp Nose. All of which sound like excellent titles. Except maybe for the ones with clowns.
3. This is now the Fortville-Vernon Library Public Library. The original Carnegie library, which was built in 1918, has served other functions since the new library opened in 1986. It is currently a food pantry for the United Methodist Church, according to this website.
4. I hope "The Ancient Ones" isn't a reference to Cthulhu, because, if so, those adventuring kids are in a world of doo-doo, to paraphrase Private Pyle.