Identify a Book My Grade-School Class Read in 1988
November 18, 2016 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Help me to remember a long-lost fantasy book my grade-school class read in or around 1988.

The details I remember are extremely scant. There was a boy (or maybe a couple of kids) who was looking for spheres or orbs that were in some way connected to physical properties (like there was maybe a "fire sphere" or a "water sphere" or something). There may have also been an older sister named Gretchen or Gertrude?

And... that's literally all I have. It made a big enough impression on me as a six-year-old that I can still remember the feeling of hearing the story nearly 30 years later, but I can't remember anything else about the actual content of the book besides those spheres, and I'm honestly not super-confident I've even got that detail locked down. This was read to my class by my teacher in either first or second grade, at a private school in South Florida, some time between 1987 and 1989.

Does this ring any bells?
posted by saladin to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's not Susan Cooper's novel The Dark Is Rising, is it? That seems a little advanced for second-graders.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe Into the Abyss by H.G. Wells?
posted by whimsicalnymph at 12:07 PM on November 18, 2016

There is a sister named Gwen in The Dark is Rising, and the signs (a physical object in the shape of a quartered circle) were named for things like fire, stone, water, etc.

When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song;
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
Six Signs the circle, and the grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold;
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.
posted by PussKillian at 12:14 PM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

If it's not The Dark Is Rising, please go read those books anyway because they are the BEST!
posted by mccxxiii at 3:02 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


This site is amazing, thanks so much!!!
posted by saladin at 9:48 AM on November 19, 2016

Whoops failed to give credit to infinitewindow too. Thank you both!!!
posted by saladin at 10:54 AM on November 19, 2016

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