What 2 children's/preteen books am I thinking of?
August 30, 2020 11:13 PM   Subscribe

I got it in my head tonight that I need to find and reread some books I really enjoyed as a kid. But I can't for the life of me find them! Do these plotlines sound familiar to you?

The first one was about a kid (maybe a girl) who was sitting around bored in summer when someone suggested she find a way to make some money. So she starts brainstorming and comes up with the idea to sell bag lunches. She starts a little assembly line, making sandwiches, adding some other things, bags them and starts taking orders. Before she knows it the business has taken off and she's now a Successful Small Business Owner (for a child). The only specific detail I remember is that at one point she throws a little end of summer customer appreciation party where her father slices up watermelon so each person gets a slice. The end.

The second book seems like it could have been part of a series. Third person perspective. The hero is a young boy (preteen?) who is just going through life in his awkward preteen way. It was very funny. I remember moments laughing out loud at certain parts. Third person POV, very unique voice. Why am I thinking that his name was quirky a la Encyclopedia Brown? He reminded me of a male Anastasia Krupnik in that very dramatic, dry wit sort of writing style. The only detail I can remember (no plot) is that at one point he becomes overly aware of how awkward his body is--have his arms suddenly stretched overnight?--and suddenly he is convinced his arms were never so long. "He wondered what would happen if someone called his name. If he spun around, would his arms create a whirlwind so powerful all the books would go flying off the shelves?" That sort of humor. This is a hopeless amount of information to Google.

If anyone has any leads I would be very grateful!
posted by therewolf to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Damn, I’m pretty sure that first one was called Eat Your Heart Out, [Firstname Lastname] but it’s proving difficult to Google. I remember they cut out the sandwiches with card suit shaped cutters. Does that ring a bell?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:53 PM on August 30, 2020

Number two sounds like The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend... And the sequel, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole.
posted by teststrip at 12:17 AM on August 31, 2020 [5 favorites]

Is the second one one of the Bingo Brown books by Betsy Byars? I don't remember that moment but the humour sounds similar. There were illustrations of some of those moments (character's "burning questions") as if drawn by a preteen boy.
posted by pierogi24 at 4:02 AM on August 31, 2020

Following showbiz_liz's hint, I've found Eat Your Heart Out, Victoria Chubb by Joyce Hunt. I don't know if it's what you're looking for, but it's definitely about children making and selling lunches.

When were you a kid, by the way? Might help narrow things down.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:26 AM on August 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

Gordon Korman’s Bruno and Boots books are very funny, maybe one of them?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:41 AM on August 31, 2020

Number 2 is The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, just like teststrip said.

Number 1 sounds very much like a story from CBS Children's Film Festival way back in the late 60's. I'm not finding and proof of that. I've been through the list of all the films the CBS Children's Film Festival aired, but I'm coming up empty. Darn it. But I remember they story about the lunches and sandwiches.

But thanks for the trip down memory lane. Adrian Mole books were especially dear to me. I read them aloud to a kid who had temporally lost his sight.
posted by james33 at 6:31 AM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm just going to add in to all the people saying the second one is The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. Just in case there was still any modicum of doubt.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:12 AM on August 31, 2020

I could cry. When showbiz_liz said something about the card suit-shaped sandwich cutter I remembered that detail immediately, but then the book title was so specific that I thought, she's got the right book but the wrong title. It jogged my memory enough to recall that there was a competitor aspect to the business, though. Then ManyLeggedCreatures comes in with the full book title and just from the book cover image I knew we had found it. It makes perfect sense that it was a Scholastic Book considering that was probably the only outlet I had to own books as a child (also, I grew up in the 90s).

And I hate to disappoint so many out there but I am ECSTATIC to report that pierogi24 is correct that it is BINGO BROWN! Which explains why I kept thinking of Encyclopedia Brown! I can't express my excitement enough. Last night after writing this post I sat upright in bed and said, "illustrations!" I had completely forgotten that there were these hilarious shaky line drawings sprinkled throughout. I am immediately ordering these books and though I can't say if the first one holds up, I clearly remember how funny the Bingo Brown books were and you should all order them!

Thank you, thank you, thank you AskMe for solving my mystery!
posted by therewolf at 8:43 AM on August 31, 2020 [4 favorites]

Omg, that Goodreads link mistakenly has the name as "Eat Your Heart, Out Victoria Chubb" which, I don't know what THAT book would be about exactly but it wouldn't be an adorable child sandwich business, that's for sure
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:48 AM on August 31, 2020 [4 favorites]

The second one is most definitely not "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4"; for a start, all the Adrian Mole books are written in first person. They're written in diary form! I feel like I know the books pretty well, having read them multiple times, and I don't recall any passages about his becoming aware of how awkward his body is after a growth spurt (or indeed about going through a growth spurt) - plenty about acne, shaving and voice changes, though.
posted by Rissa at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2020

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