Bring It Back! Out-of-Print Crimes Against Humanity: Adios, Oscar
Let’s try something a little new. I’m only human. I like to rant and rail about various children’s books being lamentably out-of-print as much as the next guy. But I also acknowledge that in the current publishing state in which we live it is simply not possible to keep all books in print.
That said, there really are a couple books out there that I think deserve another chance at life. Now I’ve done variations on this kind of post before. Last year I wrote the piece Baby, Remember My Name: Picture Book Gems of Years Past. In 2010 there was also Two Down! One to Go. But apparently I haven’t done a consistent series on books I’d love to see resuscitated. Why not start today?
Let’s be systematic about this, though. Can’t be asking for any old thing to be republished. And since I’ve already talked your ear off about the remarkable out-of-print Newbery Honor winning book The Winged Girl of Knossos (seriously, bring it back) let’s try something a bit more recent, eh whot?
The Title: Adios, Oscar!: A Butterfly Fable
The Author: Peter Elwell
Publisher: Blue Sky Press (an imprint of Scholastic)
When Was It Published?: 2009
Is It Out-of-Print?: Yup.
Why Should Someone Bring It Back?: Well, here’s the plot as I reviewed it back in the day:
“One day, while sitting in a plant in a pot, a caterpillar named Oscar makes the acquaintance of a high flying butterfly by the name of Bob. Bob’s on his way to Mexico, and he assures little Oscar that one day he’ll have a pair of wings too and can follow. Bob is intrigued by this notion, and even though the other caterpillars mock him, he teams up with a local bookworm Edna to learn about butterflies and Mexico. By the time he’s ready to go for a long sleep, Bob has learned a lot of Spanish words and phrases. But oh no! When he awakes, Bob discovers that he’s not a butterfly at all but a measly moth! Yet buoyed by Edna’s faith in him, Bob determines to go to Mexico anyway. And if you happen to travel to Mexico someday and see a moth sitting there, you might hear him say, “Mi nombre es Oscar!” loud and happy and proud. A section at the end provides English to Spanish translations as well as some useful facts about butterflies and moths.”
Now as far as I can ascertain, this is pretty much the ONLY picture book I’ve ever encountered that took the idea of butterflies flying South for the winter to Mexico and decided that the logical thing for any butterfly to do would be to learn the Spanish language. It’s a brilliant notion! Add in the art, which is reminiscent of 1930s Walt Disney cartoons (in a good way) with lots of straw boaters and ukuleles, and you’ve got yourself a lovely book.
Think about it. Spanish language words pepper the text. The book deals with the subject of handling your disappointment in a strong, smart manner. And you’ve got the metamorphosis aspect to boot.
The time has never been better to bring this puppy back in print. Go for it, Scholastic!
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy 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.
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