What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

The Secret of Willow Coulee
This topic is about The Secret of Willow Coulee
SOLVED: Children's/YA > SOLVED. 60s(?) era: boy befriends sailor who shows him ambergris (solved) [s]

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message 1: by Brenda (last edited Aug 26, 2013 12:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brenda | 87 comments This book was an older YA library book when I read it in the late 70s. Hardback, possibly with yellow or orange cover. A kid just moved to Florida(?) gets a job as a delivery boy. He meets a cranky old sailor who runs a marina. The sailor doesn’t trust the boy until after he sets off a siren to scare off vandals at the marina. The sailor tells him sea stories and shows him a lump of ambergris. I vaguely remember the boy being sickly/asthmatic and at first was overwhelmed with all the bike riding his job required. There may have been a hill or bridge that was his nemesis. He’d replaced a local boy who was becoming a delinquent and suffered retaliation for taking the job. The delinquent was possibly one of the vandals scared off from the marina. It might have been a mystery.

Brenda | 87 comments Bump because I'm still looking. I also have this up over on Loganberry and someone commented over there that the setting might have been Maine.

message 3: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
No idea what your book is Brenda. But you are getting some traffic. I'm the 25th person to check out your post.

message 4: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 38154 comments Mod
It can't hurt to look through GR list of books set in Maine. (Of course the list is not comprehensive.)


Brenda | 87 comments Thanks! Didn't see anything on the list unfortunately. I've been looking for this book on and off since about 2006. You'd think the ambergris reference would make it an easy one to google, but I've never had any luck.

message 6: by bookel (last edited Sep 21, 2013 05:30AM) (new)

bookel | 2106 comments Alvin's swap shop by Clifford B. Hicks

This is probably completely off track; involves mystery of a sunken ship. Can't recall if ambergris is in it. But tell me it's not it so I can stop thinking about it.

Brenda | 87 comments I just looked up Alvin's Swap Shop and I realized I'd read that series as a kid! But I don't think it's the one. The Alvin books I remember as being pretty light-hearted, and this one had a more serious tone. And I'm pretty sure the main character is an only child, versus Alvin having his sister the Pest. I may pick up a copy, for nostalgia though.

Brenda | 87 comments Bumping up my query.

Brenda | 87 comments Another bump.

Brenda | 87 comments Bump.

Brenda | 87 comments Bump

message 12: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
Is your book a mystery by any chance Brenda? I was just reading posts and remembered (very vaguely) a mystery and the kid described ambergris as "looking like it should stink to high heaven" even though it didn't. I read this as a kid (back in the late 60's early 70's) and flatly refused to even look at a bottle of perfume for many years after reading that ambergris (whale upchuck for those who don't know what it is) is a primary ingredient in making it. That's no longer true, since it's now illegal in this country to use ambergris (or any other whale product) in manufacturing.

Brenda | 87 comments Ann, I believe it was a mystery, though I can't recall the exact plot. Possibly there were secret nighttime meetings in boats out in the swamp, though I very well could be conflating two books here. Your 60s/70s time frame would be the right era too. I don't remember the stink to high heaven quote exactly, but I too found perfume off-putting after finding out about ambergris. I'd love to know the title of your book, if it comes to mind!

message 14: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
Well, I'm following this thread now, so when it's found for you, maybe it will be "mine" too. If not, I'll just have to start my own thread.

Brenda | 87 comments Wow, I've been browsing through the Worldcat catalog and this book jumped up on my radar:

The cover here is one I absolutely recognize from my childhood, but not sure if it's specifically this book.

I just bought a copy to make sure--Ann, does this one strike you as familiar?

message 16: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
The description doesn't do anything for me, but like you--that cover sure looks familiar. . .

Brenda | 87 comments The Secret of Willow Coulee, by Louise Bower and Ethel Tigue

It's the book, it's the book! I got it in the mail today and skimmed just enough to confirm the details. The siren, the crusty old sailor, the ambergris, the bridge that's the boy's nemesis, it's all there. Ann, there's even something close to the line you recalled: "Perfumes! No wonder they all stink!"

I've been looking for this book for YEARS! And in the end, found it myself, but it was this group where I learned about the worldcat catalog, so thanks!

I'm going to finish it this evening.

message 18: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 38154 comments Mod
Turns out the setting is Mississippi River, not Maine or Florida.

Brenda | 87 comments Just an update after I finished the book. The mystery involves figuring out how the goods taken from boats in the marina are being moved. In addition to the setting, my memory was also faulty regarding the MC as an only child. The phrase hic jacet, or "hick jacket" as the kids mispronounce it, is a private joke between Benjy and his sister Linda, and becomes instrumental to the plot.

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