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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

31 Days, 31 Lists: 2018 Picture Book Reprints

On the podcast I run with my sister, we spend a lot of time considering what it is that makes a picture book a “classic”. Popularity seems to be a key factor, but with whom? The general public? The people who work with kids every day? Is it a mix or does one slowly seep into the consciousness of the other? For example, if enough librarians, booksellers, and teachers make it clear that Susan Schade’s The Noisy Counting Book is the greatest board book readaloud for toddlers of all time (which it is) will they, through their collective efforts, actually make it a classic?

The only thing a librarian can truly count on is to somehow sway a publisher to bring something back into print. Word of mouth helps in this matter. For example, last year Purple House, Inc. brought back a new edition of librarian-fan-favorite Hi, Pizza Man! to wide acclaim. Other factors involve the popularity of the author or illustrator. If a person becomes a big name, their previous work may see the light of day. Similarly, if they did a book that was ahead of its time, a reprint might find it the audience it originally sought.

Today we look at a wide range of books that are being reprinted for all kinds of different reasons. Here are some of the best of 2018 and what the year produced:


 

The Big Green Book by Robert Graves, ill. Maurice Sendak

BigGreenBook

Kind of a trip. Sendak’s art is almost at odds with the words by Graves, taking a rather acerbic tale and rendering it kid friendly. It’s almost a case where the artist turns the author into an unreliable narrator. Still very Sendakian, though. For folks who are into his not-so-nicey style.

Bright Owl Books –

Cubs in a Tub by Molly Coxe

Hop Frog by Molly Coxe

Princess Pig by Molly Coxe

Rat Attack by Molly Coxe

Wet Hen by Molly Coxe


CubsTub

HopFrog

PrincessPig

RatAttack

WetHen

Years ago I encountered these easy book readers a very small press. It’s possible that they might have been self-published. Whatever the case I fell instantly in love, and, since I don’t have an Easy Book Reprints list this month, I figured I’d let you in on them as well. Essentially each book tackles a different vowel sound and then, by some alchemy I have yet to understand, crafts this honestly fun and funny story out of that sound. The art is all models, and they too are witty little suckers, full of charm, cleverness and fun. I’m so pleased that Coxe has found a home for these books. And best of all, I know for a fact that brand new books will be coming out in 2019, so keep your eyes peeled for Coxe’s Greedy Beetle, Save the Cake, Lion Spies a Tiger, Go Home Goat, and the particularly exquisite Blues for Unicorn.

The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola

ClownGod

Warning! Warning! Nostalgia at Work! Warning! But I’m only human after all. And if I have a crystal clear memory of a book and its story from the age of six, then I’m going to assume that the book that went with that memory was doing something right. Plus, it’s dePaola! You can’t dislike him. It’s against American law! I know they’ve been reprinting a whole slew of his earlier titles, but of his more Christian books, this is the one I like the most.

 

The Elephant’s Child: How the Elephant Got His Trunk by Rudyard Kipling, ill. Jonas Lauströer

ElephantsChild

Quick question for you. Have you ever heard Jack Nicholson reading this story? If you can find the recording I highly recommend it because no one on this good green earth has ever said the term “insatiable curiosity” quite like he. Is it a product of its time? Heck to the yes! Aside from the fact that this is Kipling we’re talking about, there’s the fact that capital punishment of the spanking variety is divied out to extremes. It certainly supports that theory that if you hit a child you’re teaching that child to hit. And yet and yet I love the language. It just flows off the tongue. Say it with me: “great grey greasy limpopo river”. Sounds good. Plus I’m rather a big fan of the clever Kolokolo Bird. Should I ever get a cat, I’m going to strongly suggest to my family members that we name it “Kolokolo”.

 

Flower Fairies of the Summer by Cicely Mary Barker

Flower Fairies of the Winter by Cicely Mary Barker

FlowerFairiesSummerFlowerFairiesWinter

Darned if I can figure out if these two books are a one time deal or if more Barker Flower Fairy books are in the works. Unlike other fairy books, I’ve always admired the almost Beatrix Potter-esque attitude Barker had towards Botany. Every fairy is paired with a scientifically rendered flower that sports the same blossoms. As a kid I used to pore over these books and then recognize them in my parents’ garden. Unlike Potter, they’ve fallen out of public favor. I wouldn’t mind seeing a return of some sort.

 

Harold’s Imagination: 3 Adventures with the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

HaroldsImagination

At laaaaaaaaast, my love has come aloooooooong…. It took a while but it looks like Harold’s sequels are, at least partially, back in print. Ten years ago when I was working in the Children’s Center at 42nd Street I used to marvel that so many Harold tales were out-of-print at all. Considering his fame, shouldn’t they all always be available? I was already a big fan of picture book collections anyway, but the extra goodies inside are worth the price of admission alone. You can see the kids that inspired Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson in their lives, and Phil Nel has quite a lot to say on the matter. So good!

I Wish I Was Sick Too by Franz Brandenberg, ill. Aliki

IWishSickToo

A universal feeling perfectly summed up in a book that originally came out in 1976. Now New York Review Books has brought it to life and it’s like it hasn’t aged a day. Seriously, you could publish this on the market right now and no one would blink an eye. You probably can guess at the plot from the title but when a brother sees the extra attention and goodies his sister gets when she’s sick he wishes he were that “lucky”. Be careful what you wish for, though. A keeper.

The Jungle by Helen Borten

Jungle

Already mentioned in the Calde-nott post, Borten’s book was originally released in 1967. The jungle featured here is Guatemalan, and follows the cycle of nature through a single day. Evocative and lush, it’s an unusual choice for a reprint. After all, Borten isn’t a household name, the book isn’t in the news or anything, and I doubt many were demanding its return. Leave it to Enchanted Lion Books to go for quality over popularity, though.

See and Say / Guarda e Parla / Mir Y Habla / Regarde et Parle by Antonio Frasconi

SeeSayEarlier I mentioned that some picture books were ahead of their time. And while it is true that when See and Say was originally released in 1964 it won a coveted slot on the New York Times Best Illustrated list, the idea of releasing a book in a whopping four languages didn’t exactly catch on like wildfire. Dover Publications took a chance on him this year, and his singular woodcut style (which he pepped up with some serious 60s colors) is just as cheery and fun as ever. It’s a pretty basic book at its core showing various objects and defining them four different ways, but a beauty.

The Snow and the Sun by Antonio Frasconi

SnowSun

Frasconi again. Did you miss him? In this book he takes a South American “folk rhyme” and creates a bilingual title. Why did he care so much about other languages? Well, as a Uruguayan-American artist, he was raised in a bilingual home. As a result, when he wasn’t showing off his art in places like MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and (oddly) NYPL, he was trying to get kids to care about knowing other languages. Gotta love his heart. This book would work even better if you knew the tune. Maybe when it gets republished again they’ll include some music you can download. That would be neat.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Stellaluna

Can you believe this little baby is twenty-five already? When Stellaluna first came out my mother was still working in an independent bookstore. After the picture book became this mega-hit, the publisher (Harcourt Children’s Books, I think) released just the cutest Stellaluna doll. I have to show it to you:

Stellaluna-Doll1651-3744

Isn’t she the best? You can hang her from things too. And talk about an instructional tool in school. At any rate, her star may have dimmed ever so slightly, but she’s still highly beloved, as this reprint of the book will attest. So happy to see her again.

Strega Nona’s Magic Ring by Tomie dePaola

StregaNonaRing

Do you remember the reason why the movie Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory has a title that’s slightly different from the book? As children’s librarians know, the original Dahl was called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Why the switch? Marketing reasons. The movie studios had this big plan to release a line of candy under the Willy Wonka name. Just made sense to make the film reflect the product.

All this is to say that I understand why Simon & Schuster thought it was a good idea to rename Big Anthony and the Magic Ring in this reprint. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I am a number one Big Anthony fan over here. I find him cute. It’s a thing. But since Strega Nona is the true draw here, it makes sense to highlight her in the title once more.

Swan Lake by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, ill. Lisbeth Zwerger

 SwanLake

Worldwide, Zwerger is a serious known entity. Here in the States, she’s known but mostly by people with an interest in international children’s literature. A pity since the art she has created to accompany a range of fairytales, plays, operas, and ballets is unsurpassed. Just look at the cleverness of her cover here. How beautifully the hand replicates the beak of a swan. Part of the reason she’s never caught on fully, I suspect, is that the books where she’s featured are exceedingly wordy. You just wish she’d break down and do a graphic novel for kicks. Not gonna happen, but a gal can dream.

Tadpole’s Promise by Jeanne Willis, ill. Tony Ross

TadpolesPromise

Okay, let me see if I have the timeline on this correct. I believe that this book was originally an import, published overseas by Andersen Press and here in the States in 2005 by Atheneum. Do you remember that I referenced it in one of my earlier posts this week? When I discussed the 2018 Funny Picture Books I mentioned a title called I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon and I said, “Kirkus, in their review, compared this to Tadpole’s Promise which is precisely right. The two go together like peas in a pod.” But let me assure you that this book, now out thanks to Andersen Press here in the States (what goes around comes around) is an acquired taste. It’s sort of the dark side of Jack Kent’s The Caterpillar and the Polliwog. What I appreciate about it is that, unlike some picture books, it acknowledges the power of the food chain.

Thirteen by Remy Charlip & Jerry Joyner

Thirteen

I suspect that without the significant love and interest of Brian Selznick, this particular Charlip title would never have seen the light of day again. Usually when we think of Charlip reprints we remember Fortunately (still one of my favorite storytime staples). This book is for the older reader. Thirteen different images slowly change with every page turn. The goal for the reader is to remember what’s happening in each image as they turn the page. Or to just read the book thirteen times. It could even work as a writing prompt as you describe some of the scenes. I use the term “dreamlike” sparingly when describing picture books but no other word in the English language quite captures this book’s essence.

 

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray by Dave Eggers, ill. Tucker Nichols

BridgeGray

This is an interesting case of a book finding republication with a different company a mere three years after its original release. In 2015 Eggers and Nichols released this book with McSweeneys. Then, a couple years later in 2017, Eggers published a somewhat similar book in the same vein with Chronicle called Her Right Foot. It turned out to be such a success that Chronicle snapped up this little history of the Golden Gate Bridge lickety-split. Though not as seemingly effortless as Her Right Foot (few things are) as an erudite history of a bridge, it’s good reading.

 

A Tiger Called Tomás by Charlotte Zolotow, ill. Marta Álvarez Miguéns

ATigerCalledTomas

My sister and I featured this book at length on our recent Halloween-inspired podcast episode.  Long story short, this book has been republished four times with four different illustrators since its original release back in 1963. This latest iteration may well be its best. In it, Thomas has been turned into a Latinx character, and the text has bilingual elements it never had before. The end result is that the original story about a boy too shy to make friends in a new neighborhood takes on a depth it never had before when you consider the cross-cultural implications of his move. Plus the art’s a knockout.

 

Who’s Hiding? by Satoru Onishi

WhosHiding

Well, now I feel old. This is the book on this list that I remember quite clearly from its first release back in 2007 with Kane Miller Press. Apparently at some point it went out-of-print and got picked up by Gecko Press. A smart move on their part since I’m a huge fan of it. Originally published in Japan in 1983 (though you’d never know it considering how contemporary it looks) the book requires sharp-eyed kids to find the oddity in every spread. “Who’s hiding?” “Who’s backwards?” “Who’s crying?” The answers are not always as obvious as they may seem. Happy to have it back. Let us hope it stays.


Interested in the other lists? Here’s the schedule of everything being covered this month. Enjoy!

December 1 – Board Books & Pop-Ups

December 2 – Board Book Reprints & Adaptations

December 3 – Wordless Picture Books

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – CaldeNotts

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Books for Kids

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – Translated Picture Books

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales / Religious Tales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Poetry Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Comics for Kids

December 21 – Older Funny Books

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Fiction Reprints

December 30 – Middle Grade Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

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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. KariKariLibrary says:

    Thank you for including Tadpole’s Promise! This has been my absolute favorite picture book for years. (That says something about me.) I used to use it as a read aloud for elementary kids on school visits all the time.

    I was elated when it was reissued this year and was sure to order copies for the indie bookstore I work at now. I hand it to people and they are either delighted or horrified…and I just laugh and laugh and laugh!

  2. Sorry, brain has exploded from thought of Jack Nicholson narrating children’s books.

  3. I still have my childhood copy of THE BIG GREEN BOOK, with a dog bite taken out of it! It as one of my favorites, weirdly subversive. Wonder if I should replace it with a pristine edition….