31 Days, 31 Lists: 2021 Picture Book Reprints
Oooo. *shivers* Did I scare you? For some of us, there are few words in the English language more deadly than that. Out-of-print can be a death sentence for many a book. And of the hundreds and hundreds of children’s books that go out of print every year, only a small handful find themselves reprinted later. And of THOSE, only a very few make it to this list. Which is a very long way of saying, I didn’t have to do as much work today (woohoo!).
Enjoy these sweet little zombies then!
2021 Picture Book Reprints
Brookie and Her Lamb by M.B. Goffstein
This year, two Goffstein treasures are seeing their way back to print thanks to the efforts of the New York Review Children’s Collection. Of these two, Fish for Supper once won itself a Caldecott Honor. All well and good, but I think that when it comes right down to it I prefer the sweet and exceedingly simple Brookie and Her Lamb. The story begins in such a way as to fool you into thinking that it’ll be a play on the song “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. It reads, “Brookie had a little lamb and she loved him very much.” But where Mary would take her lamb to school, Brookie prefers to try her hand at schooling her lamb herself. He has a good singing voice, but all he can sing is “Baa baa baa”. He can read, but all he reads is “Baa baa baa”. So she writes him songs that are all “Baa baa baa” and she writes him books that all read “Baa baa baa”. And she loves him very much. The art of Goffstein is thin lines of ink and the size of the book is a petite 5” X 6 ½”. Little books for little hands full of little stories of comfort and cheer. Just delightful.
Now about getting Laughing Latkes back in print . . . .
Good Night, Good Night by Sandra Boynton
I’m shocked. Thoroughly shocked. When I had babies in my house, I had board books that I would read not merely a hundred times or more, but a hundred times or more with pleasure. And when I was putting my children down to sleep, The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton was a staple. I LOVED that book. I had a whole lilting thing I’d do with my voice as I tried to lull my kids into a state of sleepiness. We even had the app (in those early days of picture book apps which lasted, like, five years max). So to find that this book, which I adored, has been expanded comes as a bit of a shock to the system. It has a new name and a new ending, and they assure me that it has been redrawn by the author, but this is pretty much the book I remember. The old 1982 one is still around under its original name, and some computer art has been utilized with the new shading, but Sandra’s still got it, baby! Seriously, I’m waiting for her hand to grow less steady, but it never does. The expanded section? Two little rabbits now sing a song that I will need to look up since I can’t read music all that well. It’s cute! So I give this new edition a rollicking two thumbs way way up.
The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown, ill. Garth Williams
Look. I’m going to lay it on the line for you. If you are a children’s librarian who has joined a branch that has existed for a long time, you may share a story similar to the one I’m about to recount here. It was one of my first days as a newly fledged children’s librarian. I had just received my first position as an assistant children’s librarian at the Jefferson Market Branch of New York Public Library. The librarian who worked there had been in that same location for a very long time. At least 30 years. As such, the back office was a bit on the old and dusty side. So I was in the tiny back office tidying up when I had to put my hand behind a couple books to make them stand up straight. I did so and immediately my hand grazed real fur. There is no mistaking that feeling. I shrieked like I’d just plunged my hand into a rat king and pulled it out whip fast. Nothing moved or squeaked though, so I cautiously parted the books and found a small copy of The Little Fur Family tucked away behind. Did you know that this book was originally bound in real rabbit fur so it would be extra snuggly to children? Sure. Snuggly for kids. A children’s librarian’s worst nightmare when lost behind some books. Somewhere, that day, the ghost of Margaret Wise Brown was splitting her sides laughing. Meanwhile, I’ve never quite looked at the book the same way again, but I can attest that this 75th anniversary edition is NOT made with bunnies. So file it away, safe in the knowledge that there is now only a 50% chance that another librarian will, in 75 years, suffer the same fate that I did.
The New Friend by Charlotte Zolotow, ill. Benjamin Chaud
When called upon to do so, Charlotte Zolotow had the ability to take a knife and stab it directly into your heart. Most folks remember her for William’s Doll and her pairing with Sendak on Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present. We would be amiss in not recognizing that she produced far more titles than these three, however. I was not personally familiar with The New Friend, which published back in 1968 with art by Emily Arnold McCully (who is still alive and making books, by the way). Benjamin Chaud is a rather inspired choice for the new edition. Who better than a Frenchman to capture the wistful regrets and quiet acceptance of letting a friend go? And this story is a heartbreaker. A boy talks about a friend he made and had so much fun with. Then he finds, almost by accident, that he has been carelessly abandoned for a new friend. Wrecked by the knowledge he cries himself to sleep and has a dream where he makes a new friend again. I will now write out the last lines of this book because I think they’re remarkable:
“I will look for that new friend and when I find her I’ll remember my first friend / my dear friend / with long brown hair. But maybe then / I won’t care!”
Part of the book’s charm, apart from the art, is how the sentences in this title are broken up. It’s like poetry on the page. I don’t know if it was Chaud or the Art Director making some of these changes, but the way it’s handled allows for wordless two-page spreads and a lot of breathing room. There’s not a lot of text, but what little there is packs a wallop. Remarkably well done.
A Season on Flowers by Michael Garland
Apparently this book came out as a picture book a couple years ago, but I have a hard time imagining it. You know when a book is adapted into a board book and you simply can’t think of it any other way? That’s the situation we’re dealing with here. Garland simultaneously introduces you to the different seasons of the year while sneakily labeling each plant he runs across as he goes. I can tell you that after reading this, I want to run out and buy myself some lupine seeds immediately. Colorful and completely pretty, it’s just a really good look at all the weather in all the different times of the year. Glad to see it in this format at last.
Care to see the previous years’ lists? Then check these out:
And here’s what else is on the docket this month:
December 1 – Great Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Reprints & Adaptations
December 3 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Funny Picture Books
December 7 – CaldeNotts
December 8 – Picture Book Reprints
December 9 – Math Books for Kids
December 10 – Books with a Message
December 11 – Fabulous Photography
December 12 – Wordless Picture Books
December 13 – Translated Titles
December 14 – Fairy Tales / Folktales / Religious Tales
December 15 – Unconventional Children’s Books
December 16 – Middle Grade Novels
December 17 – Poetry Books
December 18 – Easy Books & Early Chapter Books
December 19 – Older Funny Books
December 20 – Science Fiction Books
December 21 – Fantasy Books
December 22 – Informational Fiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Autobiographies *NEW TOPIC!*
December 26 – Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Books for Older Readers
December 28 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 29 – Best Audiobooks for Kids
December 30 – Comics & Graphic Novels
December 31 – Picture Books
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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