I was sitting down with a colleague the other day and the conversation turned, as all conversations are wont to do, to the subject of William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow. I won’t bore you yet again with my theory that the book would sell like hotcakes if they just bothered to re-illustrate the darn thing (if curious, you can hear me rant here).
The conversation only started with William’s Doll. After a while it went in a different direction. The question is this:
Has a picture book ever been improved by a re-illustration?
The worst case scenarios are always the easiest to think of. Anyone anywhere re-illustrating The Tale of Peter Rabbit is, by natural extension, taking an active role in a crime against man. That sort of thing falls into the if-it-ain’t-broke category.
Here are a couple cases of less violent re-illustration that come immediately to mind:
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Never Tease a Weasel by Jean Condor Soule
Many Moons by James Thurber
Do any of these improve on the original? Or is re-illustration never really a case of improvement but rather giving kids a variety of different ways to look at something familiar? I remember as a kid being read The Wind in the Willows and being shown both the original Shepard art as well as the contemporary (at the time) Michael Hague-by-way-of-Arthur-Rackham illustrations and enjoying the contrast. Maybe in some cases that’s the best use of multiple reinterpretations.
What are some of your favorite cases of re-illustration?