January 15, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Twenty-Nine – 2017 Fiction Reprints

31days

I think it takes a special kind of bravery on the part of the publisher to reprint a chapter book for children. Beloved works of fiction are funny beasts. You’ll have a distinct segment of the population that fondly remembers the title, but because are dealing with books they read in their youth, that memory is not always a surefire thing. They may remember elements but not the title. They may remember the title but misremember the plot. And then there’s bringing the reprint to anyone’s attention at all. Librarians and some booksellers may buy the reprint but how do you get great gobs of people to even know that it’s coming out? So you see, there’s an art to publishing these books.

Today I include a range of reprints. From books that came out relatively recently (say a decade or so ago) to books that are reprinted with different illustrators frequently (The Wind in the Willows) to cult favorites (Lizard Music). Not a complete list by any means, since a lot of fictional rereleases this year were unknown to me. These are just some of the ones I’m familiar with personally and like.

2017 Fiction Reprints

The Boxcar Children: Fully Illustrated Edition by Gertrude Chandler Warner, ill. Anne Yvonne Gilbert and Gretchen Ellen Powers

BoxcarChildren

I’m just about finished reading this to my 6-year-old. She’s the kind of kid that would much rather have graphic novels and comics read to her at bedtime than chapter books. Since pictures are helpful, I figured this might be a good place to start. There aren’t a ton of images in this book but the illustrated borders give the impression that you’re looking at more pieces of art than you actually are.

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

 Breadwinner

The fact that they adapted this book into an animated film in the first place was noteworthy. That they rereleased the book with a cover image from that film is smart. Look for the graphic novel, based on the film, out in 2018. It’s all to the good.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, ill. Trina Schart Hyman

 ChildsChristmas

I have a confession. Promise me you won’t make fun of me for it. Promise? Okay. Here goes. I always mistakenly think this story was written by Truman Capote. I know, I know! Sacrilege. In any case, as far as I’m concerned, if you bring back anything with Hyman’s art, you’re doing a public service to the world.

Fables You Shouldn’t Pay Any Attention To by Florence Parry Heide & Sylvia Worth Van Clief, ill. Sergio Ruzzier

FablesYouShouldnt

Now these tales were printed with a different illustrator. I think they were with Victoria Chess (one of my personal heroes) back in 1978. I wouldn’t have pegged Ruzzier for the 21st century’s answer to Chess necessarily, but he knows precisely how to accompany these dark little tales. Basically, each story has a character learning the dead wrong lesson from an experience in their life. It’s funny and unapologetic, two of my favorite things in this great, wide world.

Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater

LizardMusic

Talk about a cult book. Pinkwater fans are a breed unto themselves, and this puppy from the New York Review of Books is possibly his best book. I know, that’s a big statement to make, and everyone who likes him is going to have an opinion on the matter. I’m just saying that when I was a kid I saw a man named John Robbins on PBS read a chapter of this and draw a scene while he read (it was on a show called Books From Cover to Cover) and it stayed with me ever since. Here’s my little ode to the book from back in 2011, which was the last time they released the title.

The Riot Brothers by Mary Amato, ill. Ethan Long

RiotBrothers

Originally published in 2004, Holiday House may have been ahead of its time. Initially this series was hoping to nab some Captain Underpants fans. These days, notebook novels of this sort are pretty common and far more in the Wimpy Kid vein. We’ll see if the new redesign wins these brothers some new fans.

Uncle by J.P Martin, ill. Quentin Blake

Uncle

Well, originally the New York Review of Books released this in 2007. Now it’s out in paperback ten years later. I think I’d still label this as a rerelease. A decade can make a difference.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, ill. Sebastian Meschenmoser

 WindInWillows

When I was a child I owned two different editions of Grahame’s classic. One had the original illustrations by Shepard and one had some very Arthur Rackham-esque art from Michael Hague. I’ve continued to be fond of this strange little time capsule, and publishers have echoed that fondness with occasional new editions. This Meschenmoser book may be one of the most amusing I’ve seen in years. Meschenmoser is a master at animal emotions to begin with, but his Mr. Toad is a true thing of beauty. I don’t think I’ve seen so besotted an amphibian. And as for the scene where they surprise the stoats and weasels in Toad Hall, Redwall has NOTHING on what Sebastian has conjured up here. Top notch!

The Winged Girl of Knossos by Erick Berry, intro by Betsy Bird

Winged Girl

No, I’m not a disinterested party. I am, however, a continual proponent of this forgotten Newbery Honor. 2017 saw, after all these years, a rerelease back in print of this marvelous way-too-ahead-of-its-time proto-feminist novel. Gender swapped Greek myths never looked so good.


 

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 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 Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – Translated Picture Books

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

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 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

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Elizabeth Bird About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird (fusenumber8@gmail.com) is a children’s librarian at the New York Public Library and blogs at “A Fuse #8 Production” on SLJ ’s website. Her last feature for the magazine, “Betsy Goes to Bologna” ( July 2011), offered a bird’s-eye view of the world’s largest kids’ book fair.

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