April 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Kid Lit Marks 2013 Anniversaries with Celebrations, Special Editions

It is hard to believe that 15 years ago muggle and quidditch didn’t exist in our vocabulary. But thanks to J. K. Rowling, the words are now found in the Oxford English Dictionary—and have become a permanent part of our culture. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is just one of several now-classic books marking anniversaries in 2013 with celebrations and special editions.

The uniquely interactive Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons (Candlewick, 2003), which kicked off the entire “Ologies” series of intricately designed novelty books, is celebrating its 10th year in print.  Librarian Tim Wadham, in his original School Library Journal review, predicted the gorgeously illustrated book would be “hugely attractive to children,” and he was right.

Global sales of the series—which includes Eqyptology, Wizardology, Pireateology, Mythology, Monsterology, Spyology, Oceanology, Vampireology, Alienology, and Illusionology—have topped 17 million books, with Dragonology alone accounting for 6 million of those, according to the publisher.

The series is published in more than 42 languages, and the brand has expanded to include a destination website for fans, board games, Wii games, and merchandise.

Candlewick is marking the occasion with a new anniversary edition, a free downloadable activity kit, and a brand new release in the series: Dinosaurology: The Search for a Lost World.

It’s been twenty years since Rodman Philbrick introduced us to Freak, the Mighty (Blue Sky, 1993), the tender story of the friendship between Kevin, who is suffering from Morquio syndrome, and insecure Max. The book has found a home in many classrooms over the years due to its ever-timely theme of bullying. Amy Gillespie, Librarian at Hill Top Preparatory School in Rosemont, PA, tells School Library Journal that the book is used in her school in an illuminating way. Just like in the book, “students are asked to create their own alternative dictionary” with at least one entry for each letter of the alphabet, she says. Her favorite entry? “Phone book: a cheap booster seat.”

Blue Sky has released a 20th anniversary edition of the book with 32 pages of extra content including an author interview and letters from fans.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Scholastic sponsored a contest to give public libraries the opportunity to win Harry Potter party packs.

Scholastic is also marking the occasion this year with new paperback editions of the entire “Harry Potter” series, complete with brand new cover art by author/illustrator Kazu Kibuishi. The new editions are available separately, and in November as a boxed set known as the complete “Hogwarts Library.” The set will include a supplement to the seven-book series featuring Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. All sales from this boxed set will support the charities Lumos and Comic Relief.

Patricia Polacco is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The Keeping Quilt (S&S, 1988) in two unique ways. In the original story, a quilt made from scraps of family clothing is passed from mother to daughter for over a century. For the 10th anniversary Polacco updated the story with milestones of her own family. This year, the author again brings readers up to date on her family story.

Polacco has also written a companion book,The Blessing Cup (S&S), in which she tells of her great-grandmother’s life before leaving Russia and the legacy of the family’s china tea set.

In New York City, the Morgan Library  is celebrating the 70th anniversary of The Little Prince with a special exhibit of the original manuscript and color illustrations that the library owns. The exhibit is set to run from January through April, 2014. Notably, although Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s philosophical book about a pilot and a boy from an asteroid is considered a classic children’s book, it has long been a cult favorite among adults, especially college students.

The book touches on topics such as happiness, fortitude, and love. It has been translated into over 250 languages, and sold more than 200 million copies. And though it is considered a “French” children’s classic, Saint-Exupery actually wrote the book while in exile in New York during World War II; it was not published in France until 1946.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s 70th anniversary edition includes two audio CDs, narrated by Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen, of the unabridged text, along with an exclusive download.

This year, Roald Dahl’s darling 5-year-old genius Matilda (Viking, 1988), marked her 25th year with the opening of her own musical on Broadway, plus a  blog tour earlier this summer by 25 established voices from the kid lit blogosphere. Each day, a different blogger posted about Matilda and answered one of five questions about their relationship with the novel.

In addition, the author’s official website and publisher, Penguin Young Readers Group, are sponsoring a Matilda 25th Anniversary Read-athon Sweepstakes, giving readers a chance to win books. The contest runs until September 23, 2013.

Although Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon was first published in 1898, it was Holiday House’s 1938 edition— illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard—that brought the story into the mainstream of children’s literature. “It belongs in every child’s library,” said Library Journal of the book in its 1938 review. “It belongs wherever it finds a kindred spirit.” Shepard’s illustrations were so endearing that the publisher selected the drawing of the little boy who reads “natural history and fairy-tales” to be the company’s official logo to this day.

In September, Holiday House will officially release a 75th anniversary edition of this tale of a kind-hearted dragon and a clever boy; it features a gold embossed jacket and an introduction by kid lit historian Leonard Marcus.

Celebrating its golden anniversary this year is Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever; ironically, it was first published ironically by Golden Books. In the past 50 years, it has sold more than 4.5 million copies in the United States and been translated into 28 languages. It was this book that launched Scarry’s career as a best-selling author.

Over the years, the various editions of the book have evolved to accommodate changing styles and mores; the latest is anniversary edition that was released on July 23.

In 1964, Leo Lionni’s beloved Swimmy (Knopf, 1963)—which School Library Journal called “an exquisite picture book”—received a Caldecott Honor. It’s a simple story of a little fish, the lone survivor of a school of fish swallowed by a tuna, who devises a plan to camouflage himself and his new companions. This book has long been incorporated into curricula projects in elementary schools, to illustrate the art of collage or to interest kids in learning more about sea life.

The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, for example, features the book and related activities on its website’s Treasures @ Sea section, while the State of North Carolina has activities related to the book on Learn NC that includes a Common Core correlation.

For its 50th anniversary this year, Knopf has released a special Swimmy edition that features a poster.

Also marking its 50th anniversary this year is Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (Harper, 1963), which was given the Caldecott Award the same year as Swimmy‘s Caldecott Honor. Sendak’s death last year brought much focus on his life and work, and that has carried through to this year’s celebration of one of his most famous and beloved works. Before his death, Sendak approved the digital enhancement of his original illustrations for the anniversary edition.

And in honor of that anniversary, the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco put together a special exhibit offering a heart-warming glimpse behind the scenes of the unusual creatures that fill Sendak’s stories. Though that exhibit completed its run on July 7, another is still touring the country. “Where the Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak in His Own Words and Pictures,” can be viewed in Atlanta at the William Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum, and then the Young at Art Museum in Davie, FL.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.