"Ballet" is a major flashpoint in Kid-Litland, and one of the most sought after series is the Susie
books by Lee Wyndham. Susie and the Ballet Horse is the last of these (not the double flashpoints
of "horse" and "ballet") and should be listed alone; list the others
(Susie and the Ballet Family; On Your Toes, Susie; A Dance for Susie;
Susie and the Dancing Cats) in lots if paperbacks and individually if hardbacks. Wyndham
(a pseudonym for Jane Andrews) also contributed to the Career Romance for Young Moderns series.
She was a very prolific author. Some of her books are worthless - Bonnie, a story about a
candy striper, is basically a penny book; on the other hand, Lady Architect is a good 50/50 candidate.
Jean McDevitt's Mr. Apple's Family is a funny little book club quality book with a strong following, possibly because it's illustrated by Ninon, who is collectible in her own right, or that it's simply a cute story. I found the $60 that it added to my PayPal account the cutest thing of all! Ninon's style is similar to Tasha Tudor's - and very distinctive. An advanced search on eBay in the books category will bring up some examples of her work.
I've mentioned the Mousekin books by Edna Miller in previous columns - and "mouse" is another
Kid Lit flashpoint. Mousekin's Golden House (look for a pumpkin on the cover) is the hardest to find and commands the best prices. Scholastic published many of this series in paperback, and a lot of 5 or 6 Mousekins will easily go for $30 or $40.
If you have small children, you are probably all too familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine, the big-eyed anthropomorphic locomotive. This series originated in England. Earlier volumes published by Egmont Children's Books or Edmund Ward start at $100 and go up. Don't bother with the eighty zillion American spin-offs and versions unless you like to sell lots.
I often stumble across British editions of books at thrift stores. UK or Canadian Harry Potter books also sell very well in lots - often in the $40 to $50 range. Not too shabby for paperbacks that are in still in print. Do emphasize that you are stateside and can offer US shipping, and for heaven's sake don't gouge anyone. Folks who buy lots are often well aware of the Media Mail shipping costs.
In fact, any children's book published in England and found in the US is a good speculative buy because there's often something special books that someone took the trouble to transport across the pond. Many adult readers of Kid Lit are avid anglophiles.
Elizabeth Goudge (don't confuse her with Eileen Goudge, who is a Danielle Steele clone)
wrote numerous adult books, some of which are very collectible and some of which - Green Dolphin Street -
are as common as dirt. Scholastic published one of her best known children's books,
The Little White Horse in paperback. Rumor has it that this title is about to be made into a movie. There seems to be a sudden resurgence of turning classic children's books into movies lately, which always drives up the price of corresponding books. Boxed paperback sets of C.S. Lewis novels are another sure seller.
Returning to horses, don't forget C.W. Anderson. Scholastic issued many of his books in paperback. If you find a stack, once again group into a lot and you'll be $20 or $30 or $40 richer. Marguerite Henry's horse books were (and still are) issued in paperback, and she's another one who sells well in lots.
Dell Yearling reprinted many of Lois Lenski's regional books. At one time these sold well individually, but now they are best sent to Lotville. The same is true for Catherine Woolley's Cathy books and Ginny books; these carry the Scholastic imprint.
ScoutPal or a similar field lookup can be a valuable tool for checking Parents' Magazine and
Weekly Reader books. There are many, many worthless titles floating around, but search the stacks
and piles anyway because you will often stumble across a few gems that make it worthwhile.
I found my copy of Jelly Beans for Breakfast at a charity thrift shop. Normally, I would have
passed it by since it was a book club edition, and I also knew that her Miss Suzy book
wasn't worth much. But I'd found a copy of Prance at a library sale a few days prior,
so I pulled out my cell phone and dialed up ScoutPal. When I punched in the Library of Congress
number, my jaw dropped. Since many of these books are pre-ISBN and none have barcodes, this is
yet another instance when a knowledgeable seller can outperform scanners. Whatever tool you use,
it should have the capability of accessing pricing information by Library of Congress numbers.
None of the books I've mentioned are signed firsts, and many will cost you only a buck or less. Given the potential return on this modest investment, however, it's well worth committing a few titles and authors to memory and rifling through the relics of someone's childhood at this summer's garage sales.