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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

A Beloved Classic: 95% Less Offensive!

LadyBugGirlOccasionally I’m sent new editions of various picture books because those titles have managed to maintain their popularity over the decades.  Often when they reach their 10 year anniversaries I feel old.  I mean, seriously.  Fancy Nancy?  A decade?  Really?  Other times it makes sense.  This year, two picture books were released with new editions and one very significant difference.

The first of these arrived in the mail the other day.  Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis was originally published in 2008, so it’s not exactly having a significant anniversary at the moment (Happy 7th Birthday!!).  Still, that didn’t stop Penguin from releasing a new “Super Fun Edition” with cool stickers and paper dolls in the back.  My daughter’s a big time fan of Ladybug Girl, and I’m a sucker for Soman’s watercolors, plus stickers of any sort are a nice plus.  When my girl asked me to read it to her, I complied.  We’d checked out an edition from the library in the past and I remembered it pretty well, but hadn’t seen it since.  So I flipped to the front endpapers and was struck by something that wasn’t there.

Go to the Pengin Random House website for the new Ladybug Girl and it will tell you all about the extras.  What they may fail to mention is that the Indian costume on the endpapers is gone gone gone!  Debbie Reese commented on this image back in 2012 saying, “Get rid of it.”  And though I cannot find anyone online who has mentioned its disappearance, poof!  It is gone.

GraceHiawathaThe other disappearance of a similar nature comes out with the 25th anniversary edition of Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman.  In this case I didn’t know about the book until I saw that Debbie had reported on the fact that the Hiawatha picture has also been removed . . . but only in the U.S. edition.  Apparently the British rerelease retains the original.

What’s interesting to me is the silent nature in which these changes have taken place.  Given the current cultural climate you would think a publisher would be announcing these changes left, right, and center.  A beloved classic: Now 95% less offensive!  Instead, they’re sneaky about it.  I don’t think there’s anyone who would actually object to these changes (not seriously), so why not let the folks who weren’t buying these books due to the images know that they’ve been changed?  Funny times.

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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. Sadly, there ARE quite a few people who would complain, for no other reason than they hate that things get changed because they offend people. Because it’s apparently wrong to not want to be offensive?

  2. Haters gonna hate. No, I know that even innocuous changes can yield vitriolic responses. But if the changes are peripheral and not integral to the text I suspect the objections are fewer.

  3. Hi Betsy–Thanks for this post! I didn’t know about the change to Ladybug Girl. Some of us researchers really want to know the details of how these changes come about. I’m thinking of Philip Nel, a mutual colleague, who also writes about revisions at his blog.

    Guessing you may have seen the post over the weekend about the changes to Scarry’s books? Here’s the link, for those who haven’t seen it:

    http://fusion.net/story/228845/richard-scarry-best-word-book-ever-changes/?element=228849&utm_content=inline+element&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=socialshare

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Thanks for the link! I missed that particular post, but Jules and I wrote about the Scarry updates in WILD THINGS: ACTS OF MISCHIEF IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE. One of the more interesting cases indeed.