Sometimes I talk about how books with illustrators from countries other than America get a bum rap because there are so few awards that they can win. And this isn’t untrue, but there are a couple lists that give them their due. There’s the New York Times Best Illustrated list, and the Society of Illustrators show with all the awards inherent therein. There’s the Batchelder Award (sorta) and all those Best of the Year lists the review journals put out.
Pity then the picture book reprint. There is no award for a reprint. No best of list will tend to display such books. They are often lovely, but they rarely go viral. Perhaps there will be a crew of stalwart fans that cheer such a book’s reappearance, but no one ever gets rich off of picture book reprints.
Today, I sing the praises of those reprints. I’ve seen a lot of them this year, and these are the standouts. A truly lovely creation, each and every one. Your bookshelves will be richer for having them.
2016 Picture Book Reprints
The Brownstone by Paula Scher, ill. Stan Mack
I’m so pleased that this book comes first alphabetically on today’s list. I was completely unaware of the existence of this book, to say nothing of Paula Scher or Stan Mack, until it was reprinted. It’s marvelous! Each denizen of an apartment bugs another one, so they keep switching apartments around like mad. It’s basically a lower stakes version of the old fox/chicken/bag of grain riddle. Did I mention it was charming? It’s charming.
Colors by John J. Reiss
I’m switching it up. I put one of the Reiss reprints in the reprinted board book selection. Now I’m putting this one into the reprinted picture book section. Fair’s fair, and all the books in this series are lovely and deserving of praise.
Do You Hear What I Hear? by Helen Borten
Add this one to your collection of picture books about the five senses. Borten tackles sound in this book through a variety of creative methods. Though this book came out in the 1960s, it still feels pretty darn fresh when you read it through.
Fletcher and Zenobia by Victoria Chess and Edward Gorey, ill. Victoria Chess
No, your eyes do not deceive you. That’s Victoria Chess pairing with Edward Gorey. What a duo! I was a huge fan of Chess back in the day. Remember Slugs? No. Wait. Don’t remember Slugs. That thing was unnerving. Remember the piranha one instead. I love her work and to see her with a Gorey plot (and a sweet one at that) is just icing on the cake.
The Happy Hunter by Roger Duvoisin
I guess it’s fairly safe to say that we don’t see quite as much bandying about of guns in picture book these days. Fortunately, this particular hunter is more enamored of the act of having a gun than actually using it in any way. This was a good Duvoisin that I never really saw. Nice to see him coming back in print.
The Marzipan Pig by Russell Hoban
I think I actually physically squealed with delight when I saw that this was coming out this year. Way back in 2004 I would run film strips (yep, FILM strips) in the Jefferson Market Branch of NYPL. I could request these films from the Performing Arts Library of NYPL (by typing little carbons on a typewriter, but that’s another story) and my favorite one to request was The Marzipan Pig. You can’t find it on YouTube but you can see some of it on Fandor, so enjoy. I tended to play it around Valentine’s Day, thereby ensuring that a bunch of young adults are now wandering this Earth wondering why they have this strange memory of a film with a pig and an owl and a taxicab. So happy to see the book, at least, is back in print.
The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman, ill. Lisbeth Zwerger
It’s a lovely one, really. I had to have at least one Zwerger on my list this year and I decided to go with this one because besides the Maurice Sendak one it’s the only illustrated version I’ve seen of the original story by E.T.A. Hoffman. Tis the season.
The Practical Princess by Jay Williams, ill. Friso Henstra
Years ago I first encountered a mention of this book in Phil Nel’s Tales for Little Rebels, and I’ve wanted to see a copy of it ever since. Now it’s possible! Thanks to the workings of Purple House Press, this subversive bit of 1969 feminism is available once more for one and all to see. Enjoy it!
Roland the Minstrel Pig by William Steig
A good year for pigs, no? It’s hard to believe that this was William Steig’s first picture book. Harder still to believe that he wrote it when he was sixty-one.
Sam and Emma by Donald Nelsen, ill. Edward Gorey
What’s better than one reprinted Edward Gorey? TWO reprinted Edward Goreys! I knew that this particular book was a bit of a cult hit and that Sam and Emma fans abound. What I didn’t know was that it would feel quite so much like the Houndsley and Catina series by James Howe. It’s actually a rather remarkable little book in that it attempts to show that our perceptions and expectations may not always be accurate when dealing with other people.
Tomi Ungerer: A Treasury of Eight Books by Tomi Ungerer
Though I was a little surprised to find that The Beast of Monsieur Racine was not included in this collection, all told I was happy with the selection. You’ve got a nice mix of old classics and newer works. They all have this feeling peculiar to Ungerer and no one else. It’s nice to see him having his Renaissance while he’s still alive.
The Toy Brother by William Steig
This one had a lot of similarities to Steig’s later work Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Spells going awry and the possibility that you’ll now be stuck in the form you’ve accidentally just made for yourself for all eternity. It’s a mighty interesting book. There’s a reason I have multiple Steigs on this list.
What Can I Be? by Ann Rand, ill. Ingrid Fiksdahl King
The cover. Need I say more?
Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:
December 1 – Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Adaptations
December 3 – Nursery Rhymes
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Alphabet Books
December 7 – Funny Picture Books
December 8 – Calde-Nots
December 9 – Picture Book Reprints
December 10 – Math Picture Books
December 11 – Bilingual Books
December 12 – International Imports
December 13 – Books with a Message
December 14 – Fabulous Photography
December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales
December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year
December 17 – Older Picture Books
December 18 – Easy Books
December 19 – Early Chapter Books
December 20 – Graphic Novels
December 21 – Poetry
December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books
December 29 – Novel Reprints
December 30 – Novels
December 31 – Picture Books