Thursday Throwback: Jamie and the Mystery Quilt

I’m not ashamed to say that I still occasionally read children’s books, especially if they were ones I first read as a child.  I was actually probably a more voracious reader when I was younger than I am now, if that’s possible.

While browsing for series books at the latest book sale I found a couple old favorites that had me secretly jumping for joy. Two of the Miss Bianca books by Margery Sharp immediately found their way into my bag. I don’t love these as much as the movies because Miss Bianca is  more stand-offish and Bernard more subservient, but they are wonderful nonetheless. Neither is the one I most vividly remember, which features some somewhat creepy wax dolls.

After rereading The Doll’s House over the summer I remembered a book with a treasure in a doll house that I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the title of. As soon as I picked up When the Dolls Woke, by Marjorie Filley Stover, I knew I had found it. The prequel, Midnight in the Dollhouse, was there as well.  I flipped through and everything was as I remembered, including the parchment over the fireplace and the exotic wooden doll Martinique (though she is not mean like I had thought). They are a bit similar to Rumer Godden’s books, which must be why I thought they were by her.

In the same box as those two was a book called Jamie and the Mystery Quilt, by Vicki Berger Erwin. I first checked this our of the local library when I was about eight, and read it several times more in the next few years, though if you had asked me now about the plot I would have been stumped. I couldn’t resist reading it as soon as I got home. My library’s copy had been missing some pages, so this was actually my first time reading it in its entirety.

Jamie absolutely loves the old house that has been passed down for generations in her father’s family. Since he died a few years ago, however, money has been really tight, and her mother has been showing the realtor Mr. Payne around with the intent of selling the house. Janie is determined to stop him. She begins tutoring one of her classmates, Kevin, after school to earn some extra money. She also wants to start bringing down some of the original furniture from the attic to try and get their house on the historical circuit. Kevin’s mother is an antiques dealer and he thinks some of it may be valuable.

In the process, Jamie stumbles across a quilt made by her great-grandmother during the Depression which is an exact replica of the house. She also finds letters from her great-grandfather hinting that hid money in the house before he died, and that he added a clue to the quilt. Before Jamie has a chance to investigate, however, the quilt is stolen from her back porch. Her mom will be signing papers to sell the house in a few days, so Jamie and Kevin have very little time to recover the quilt and save the house.

I find it amusing that the plot elements I was drawn to even at a young age are still the ones that resonate with me: old houses/antiques, mysteries, connections to people in the past, hidden treasures, and hints of romance. I could definitely fill a shelf with children’s books that have some or all of these themes (like The Family Tree). Fewer adult books seem to have all of these at once, especially the hidden treasures part, but if anyone has any recommendations feel free to pass them along!

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Published in: on November 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. I am currently reading Midnight in the Dollhouse to my children. They love it. It is my book I packed away when I was a kid. I didn’t realize it was a prequel and look forward to reading it to them again. As much as the kids like the book, I must admit I am enjoying it myself as I reread it to them!


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