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CHIP (1958)


I found this book by the end of last May in a used-books shop. That day, they didn’t have many books interested me. Like almost always, I went to the back of the shop where they kept old books that smelled funny. Chinese and Korean novels bore great covers but sadly I couldn’t buy them even if I would. I searched the bottom rows of each shelf just to find essays about school and marriage. Then there it was… the worn green hardcover. I skimmed several pages then decided that was the one going with me home.

Chip was a boy’s nickname. He lived up on a hill with his parents where he also made friends with a caterpillar, a fresh-water turtle, and a parakeet.The book tells how Chip spent four beautiful seasons with his unique friends and parents. I love how Roderick Huff describes the places. The river, the trees, how the moon rose and the sun set. Beautiful. Sheila Greenwald’s drawings really compliment the book. I love them, very artistic. All in all it’s a nice, feel-good story for everyone.

My favorite character is Burfur, the straight-forward, explosive, but smart little caterpillar. He stuck with Chip the most, and regardless his size, he always managed to survive and found his way back to Chip.

The diction is simple and clean, as is the plot. And there are good quotes along the story that, I’m sure, applies to everyone. My pick is the one Burfur said, “Sometimes being safe is the sorriest thing one could ever be.” (in contrary to better be safe than sorry.) The strong values of friendship and family also really add to the whole package.

The nice surprise I found after I bought the book was that on the lowest offer to the classic hardcover is $250, there were only three people with the book in hand. I actually got the book for only Rp.35.000,- ($3.5) yeah, iknowright. The previous owner left some Koreans notes under some words. I think a student. There are chocolate smears and fingerprints too. Very fascinating. No torn or unbound pages. Pretty decent. But, no, I’m not letting this one go for any price.

Another good fact I learn is that Roderick Huff didn’t publish a lot of work. Even his biography is a bit difficult to find. This Chip book has no ISBN, only Librarian of Congress catalog card number and published by Harper&Brothers.


10 thoughts on “CHIP (1958)

  1. I’ve been looking for this book too. My friend heard it read to her class in elementary school in the 50’s and has been looking for it. Does anyone know of an available copy?

  2. I owned this book until my wicked stepmother decided to get rid of all my children’s books. I loved it partly because it seemed to be written about the street I lived on in Louisville, KY. I have been looking for it for years, but, not remembering the author’s name, never got a hit in a search engine until today. And then the only copy I found was at Amazon for $900. Yikes! I never can figure out how they arrive at those prices…Anyway, I haunt the used bookstores, too, and I congratulate you on your find.

    1. I guess I was lucky πŸ™‚
      Maybe the copies have become somewhat rare and considered collector’s hunt. I even still wonder how the one I found travelled so far to Indonesia.

      1. Nice to know you liked the book. Roderick Huff also wrote “Bugle Boy” (Harper & Row) and “The Blue Racer” (E. P. Dutton) and Chip was translated into German and published as “Mick and Molly” (Hermann Schaffstein Verlag).

      2. wow…Chip himself!
        will definitely try to look for the other two books – though I’m sure it will be a hard battle :))
        thank you so much for stopping by!

  3. perhaps my absolute favorite book as a kid. we found it when we moved into our house and i read and reread it many times over the years, when i had a son of my own i wanted to read it to him but couldn’t find my copy, so i went searching and did find one (forget where) and read it to him, he loved it.

      1. I’m SO glad that at least a few other people (including you) feel that this story is a true classic. I’m 64 now and my brother is 61; we both remember “Chip” as one of our true childhood favorites. My two daughters (33 and 30) feel precisely the same way. Although the dust jacket on our copy is long gone, the book itself is intact, and I continue to read it aloud to the children and grandchildren of close friends. They love it, too.

        I’m a retired book editor and have tried, without success, to track down the publication rights to the book. With today’s technology, creating and distributing a new edition would be a snap.

      2. Thank you so much for swinging by, Chris πŸ™‚
        I read it to my daughter and she loves it. The book is really a gem. Maybe it’s meant to stay rare and classic, that’s why it’s a bit hard to find the publication rights to the book. How strange πŸ™‚

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