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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Bring It Back! Out-of-Print Crimes Against Humanity: Adios, Oscar

Let’s try something a little new.  I’m only human.  I like to rant and rail about various children’s books being lamentably out-of-print as much as the next guy.  But I also acknowledge that in the current publishing state in which we live it is simply not possible to keep all books in print.

That said, there really are a couple books out there that I think deserve another chance at life.  Now I’ve done variations on this kind of post before.  Last year I wrote the piece Baby, Remember My Name: Picture Book Gems of Years Past.  In 2010 there was also Two Down! One to Go.  But apparently I haven’t done a consistent series on books I’d love to see resuscitated.  Why not start today?

Let’s be systematic about this, though.  Can’t be asking for any old thing to be republished.  And since I’ve already talked your ear off about the remarkable out-of-print Newbery Honor winning book The Winged Girl of Knossos (seriously, bring it back) let’s try something a bit more recent, eh whot?

The Title: Adios, Oscar!: A Butterfly Fable

The Author: Peter Elwell

Publisher: Blue Sky Press (an imprint of Scholastic)

The Cover:

When Was It Published?: 2009

Is It Out-of-Print?: Yup.

Why Should Someone Bring It Back?: Well, here’s the plot as I reviewed it back in the day:

“One day, while sitting in a plant in a pot, a caterpillar named Oscar makes the acquaintance of a high flying butterfly by the name of Bob. Bob’s on his way to Mexico, and he assures little Oscar that one day he’ll have a pair of wings too and can follow. Bob is intrigued by this notion, and even though the other caterpillars mock him, he teams up with a local bookworm Edna to learn about butterflies and Mexico. By the time he’s ready to go for a long sleep, Bob has learned a lot of Spanish words and phrases. But oh no! When he awakes, Bob discovers that he’s not a butterfly at all but a measly moth! Yet buoyed by Edna’s faith in him, Bob determines to go to Mexico anyway. And if you happen to travel to Mexico someday and see a moth sitting there, you might hear him say, “Mi nombre es Oscar!” loud and happy and proud. A section at the end provides English to Spanish translations as well as some useful facts about butterflies and moths.”

Now as far as I can ascertain, this is pretty much the ONLY picture book I’ve ever encountered that took the idea of butterflies flying South for the winter to Mexico and decided that the logical thing for any butterfly to do would be to learn the Spanish language.  It’s a brilliant notion!  Add in the art, which is reminiscent of 1930s Walt Disney cartoons (in a good way) with lots of straw boaters and ukuleles, and you’ve got yourself a lovely book.

Think about it.  Spanish language words pepper the text.  The book deals with the subject of handling your disappointment in a strong, smart manner.  And you’ve got the metamorphosis aspect to boot.

The time has never been better to bring this puppy back in print.  Go for it, Scholastic!

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About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. I’d like to see The Animated Thumbtack Railroad Dollhouse and All-Around Surprise Book back in print. Just putting that out there in the universe.

  2. I know the pain you . I was flabbergasted when I learned “Fox and Fluff” was out of print, but I tend to (sneak) an O.P. (Out of Print) book in my regular picture book review series I call “Weekly Readings” because I hope it’ll still be found in library, and because the books do exceptional things more recent books don’t do or haven’t done in a LONG time

    I’ve with the hope that when they one day return to print, I can celebrate their rebirth and ethically lure people to my site/YouTube channel at the same time.

    I agree that many books out of print really deserve a second chance at life, especially when they fit the current market so perfectly it’s not even funny! Like ” Sugar Cane: A Caribbean Rapunzel ” I’ve got a few choice books I think should be brought back-

    “Fox and Fluff” by Shutta Crum (illus. John Bendall-Brunello)

    This seems to be the ONLY one of her books that’s out of print, and that’s a shame, as it’s one of the best. Plus, John Bendall-Brunello’s illustrations are colorful, simple yet detailed in notably subtle ways.

    I’m usually wary of “accidental dad” stories, but this one’s funny and touching. As I mention in my review, “It’s the fatherly companion to ‘Are you My Mother'” that NEEDS to come back in print!

    Bad Dog by Nina Laden
    While there are countless dog books in the world, few make a case for being rebellious in the rhytmic sass of this book. People often equate the best picture books to poetry, and poetry akin to music, and Nina Laden’s “Rebel without a Collar” tale has ALL THREE!

    “Ballerino Nate” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (illus. R.W. Alley)

    I love the unapologetic spirit of ANY book where a boy enters a “Girl’s world” We have so many books on pitting girls into a “boy’s world” there are few books that look at the reverse, and I strongly believe that needs to change.Diversity is not just about ethnicity, but varied portrayals of gender, and boys and men need this as much as girls and women, and while I get are varying degrees of injustice girls and women face in and out of the U.S. we can’t let that blind us to the narrow views that hold today’s boys and men back, ESPECIALLY in the Hispanic/African-American communities where male roles are uniquely/stubbornly narrow and rigid.

    Plus, this book would be tangible “Armor” for budding male ballet dancers to stay at the bar, if that’s what they most want to do. Even outside of ballet, we need more books with boys standing up for their nontraditional interests and potential career paths.

    While I agree with the sentiment of Sergio Ruzzier’s “Amandina” that we can do something we love whether we have approval or not, there still needs to be ways for kids in general (and boys in particular) to have someone else who does what they do. Someone who “Gets it” on the “In the know” level.

    Speaking from my own experience a moment, I used to keep my love of fantastical animal stories to myself in my teens when other kids my age (or even a bit younger than me) were “graduating” to books as edgy and (arguably) inappropriate, I was more interested in books about rodent warriors (OUTSIDE of Redwall) and dogs who not only talk, but sing, dance and do stand up comedy!

    When I first started writing seriously at 16 (after only writing fanfiction and weird poetry) I was more jazzed about writing a modern take on Beatrix Potter than jumping on the paranormal bandwagon that after a “prohibition” in the late ’80s into the early 2000s, is in a renaissance of sorts.

    Apart from Harry Potter (of which I was late to that craze) most of my favorite books were off the beaten path.

    Even though I truly believe great people are great people whatever the age or gender, just like girls and women appreciate role models who are their like gender, the same is true with boys, ESPECIALLY in areas OUTSIDE sports, technology, and corporate business roles.

    Not to get too morbid here, but eating disorders are on the rise amongst boys and men, but most programs and treatments are designed by and for women, and just like how battling weight loss is different/harder for women than men on average, so is learning how to work through addressing an eating disorder.

    Have hope, one of my favorite books “The Wainscott Weasel” by Tor Seidler (illus. Fred Marcelino) was reissued YEARS after it was on the “Isle of Misfit ‘Out of Print’ Books” just in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its original publication.

    Granted, this a novel, not a picture book, which does make it easier to revive as there’s more text than pictures. But I also think illustrations should become more integral to the novel form, and this book’s a worthy example of that. Besides, it’s so far the ONLY book apart from “A Rat’s Tale” also by Tor Seidler that’s still in print and includes illustrations by the late and great Fred Marcelino. Which leads me to my next pick-

    “I, Crocodile” by Fred Marcelino
    This was the only picture book (at least that I know of/could find) Fred Marcelino wrote and illustrated, and it’s sadly out of print, art like his should not be rotting away! He also illustrated “The Trumpet and the Swan” the (seemingly) lesser known/talked about of the children’s books by E.B. White.

    Like aforementioned Sergio Ruzzier (who I think in recent years is happily getting more well known, Elizabeth B.) this is a lesser known talent and it’s a crying shame. His work belongs in a museum just as much as the illustrations featured at the Eric Carle Museum

    and ANYONE who loves Jon Klassen’s “I Want My Hat Back” owes it to themselves to seek this book out at their library or snag a used copy if you can. If you’ve got a “Scribd” a subscription service that’s like “Netflix for books” does have an audio version of the book avaible, narrated by the legendary Tim Curry, so that’s one way to experience the story, even though it’s better with the illustrations it’s a start. (It’s also on Audible, too)

  3. Sorry, I haven’t read everything, so maybe this has already been mentioned but my son’s recent school Scholastic book Club order form seems to have this book under the title “Oscar, the Almost Butterfly.” I recognized the cover from you site, I’ll be ordering it!