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The Vine: January 28, 2011

Submitted by on January 28, 2011 – 10:25 AM10 Comments

I need help with a book that I read as a kid, and I can't remember the title (or most of the plot). It was about a girls' home, possibly in England, that had about 12 girls living there, ages ranging from about 5-14. I remember that they went to school and came home in a line, the littlest straggling along.

Anyway, they had a magic box of chocolates that was always full. No matter how many chocolates were taken, it was always full. There may have been another magical item as well. The railing outside the house may have been made of licorice, or at least described as looking like licorice.

The stories were mostly about what went on in the house. One of the girls may have been named Hattie, who lied about something, but this wasn't a focus. There was a room with a piano, and perhaps a parlor. I think there were two "house mother"-type women. That's about all I remember.

I am pretty sure this was a "chapter book" for kids, less likely YA. I hope someone else remembers this book…or at least has better Google-fu than I. This is NOT a Madeline book, as many friends have suggested.

I want that chocolate box


Hi Sars — I'm hoping the TN readers can help me track this down:

An offhand comment from a coworker about a Feast of Kings cake reminded me of a scene from one of my favorite books from childhood…and then I realized I can’t think of the name of the book. Salient points:

  • The book was set in either an orphanage or a boarding school; I’m almost sure it was an orphanage. I want to say that whatever institution it was, it was all-girl.
  • The orphanage/school was most likely in France: I remember not knowing how to pronounce many of the characters’ names, although I do believe that the main two girls were named Bridget (Brigitte?) and Marie. Marie (if that was her name) was the sidekick; I believe she may have been chubby.
  • In the scene I remember, the girls were helping to prepare the galette des Rois. One of the girls sneakily pressed her thumb into the pastry to indicate where the "prize" (a bean?) was hidden, to ensure that her friend would find it when it came time to cut the cake. (So the friend must have been the youngest orphan, since traditionally the youngest person at the party gets to choose the first slice of cake.)
  • I read this book in the late '70s/early '80s, but it had a slightly older feel to it. Not as old as, say, The Secret Garden — more along the lines of the Sidney Taylor All-of-a-Kind Family books. It was a chapter book, but with lots of illustrations.

Hoping for an Epiphany (sorry)

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  • betsytacy says:

    I think the second book query is the series about the Orphelines by Natalie Savage Carlson. The first in the series was The Happy Orphelines if I recall correctly.

  • Katie says:

    Epiphany-The Happy Orpheline by Natalie Savage Carlson?

  • Erin says:


    I think I'm wrong, but your description makes me think of The Ten O'Clock Club by Carol Beach York. I can't find a synopsis of the book to help me remember what exactly it's about.


  • Katie says:

    And chocolate box- I think that might be one of the "Good Day Orphanage" books by Carol Beach York. The band Good Charlotte apparently took their name from those books.

  • Linds says:

    I had the first book! It's called Miss Know-it-All, and it is indeed one of the Good Day Orphanage books by Carol Beach York. Apparently it's a series but seems to be out of print based on some Googling.

    Miss Know-it-All was a Mary Poppins-like character who suddenly appeared at the orphanage one day with her endless box of chocolates, and would basically answer any questions the little girls had. One of the girls stumps her with a riddle and she stays there at the orphanage until she is able to solve it. Fun little chapter book!

  • Kari says:

    Hi, I'm chocolate box. Thank you @Katie and @Erin! Your suggestions of Carol Beach York (and particularly the 'Good Day Orphanage') gave me what I needed to find the book. It was "Miss Know it All" and "Miss Know it All Returns" by Carol Beach York. I can't believe I forgot the most central part of the book, in which a woman "Miss Know it All" comes to the girls home, and the girls are allowed to try to "stump" her with questions. I have been trying to remember that book forever! Thanks TN readers, you rock.

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    I'd be amazed if it wasn't Orphelines! Wow, I loved those books as a kid. I still remember the story of Madame learning to cook with the shiny new pots and pans instead of her old cast iron.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Now I'm all hungry for cake and chocolates! I've gotta find these books, they sound adorable.

  • Epiphany says:

    And I'm Epiphany, and I second the "TN readers rock" sentiment. My book is indeed The Happy Orpheline — I remember, now, thinking it was kind of a silly title and being vaguely embarrassed when I checked it out of the library. I had no idea it was a series, though; and, like Kari, I too had forgotten the central plot of the book, which is that Brigitte gets lost and ends up with a woman who claims that her husband is the lost king of France.

    I must purchase this book and read it to my daughters. Except then they, too, may want to become orphans, the way I did when I read it.


  • Rebecca says:

    Gosh, I read the description of the second one and I am 99% sure I remember that scene! But I had forgotten the book…now I want a re-read.

    BTW betsytacy you get my deep appreciation for your username. True facts, I just finished the "Carney's House Party" + "Winona's Pony Cart" book set.

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