by Roderich Thun with illustrations by Edith Kiem/ published 1960 by The Viking Press
Not sure where this book came from (I don't remember it being around when I was little), but it was packed up in the attic with the rest of the oldies. Regardless, the story is one of the sweetest and most exotic I have ever run into with a children's book. Check it. A storm brings a tree down on the train tracks that carry the Orient Express. A boy comes by to inspect the action and meets an Indian princess who shows him her magic box with powers to make all the wild animals your friends.
Right away they made friends with each other, and Peter invited the little princess to play in his garden, which was nearby. There she put her precious case on the ground and carefully took off the cover. Peter was astonished, for inside there shone a great red precious jewel. And, wonder of wonders, from all around them the animals of the forest came running!
When the track is cleared and the little girl is on her way again, it is too late before the boy realizes she has left her magic box behind, kicking off a series of events that lead the little boy himself to India to return the box by hand.
Originally published in Germany, this story is utterly magical and dear. The ink line and smudge chalk drawings are simple but divine... I can't believe this book isn't some underground cult classic or at least still in print. I would have to think Wes Anderson would dig it hard.