Friday, April 8, 2011

What Booksellers Wish Publishers Knew -- Picture Book edition

Welcome to another post in an occasional series in which a bookseller (that would be me) rants about the biz.  

Dear Publishers,

Picture books make great baby gifts.  Yes, you knew that already. Duh. That's one of the reasons you publish them.  But did you know that the hot new custom at baby showers is for everyone who attends the shower to bring a favorite book from their own childhood?

What does this mean?

This means I get plenty of customers (grandmothers. aunts, friends) who are looking for books they knew and loved decades ago.  Books that are hard to find.  Oh, it's all very well if your favorite childhood book was Goodnight Moon or Where the Wild Things Are.  But what if it was:

The Wonderful World of Aunt Tuddy, written by Jeremy Gury and illustrated by Hilary Knight (Random House, 1958).  I can still quote from this book.  Yes, I'm old.  Deal with it.

Not a Little Monkey, written by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin (Lothrop, 1957), for which I can't find an image (even on Charlotte's own website) except for this inferior 1989 reissue with a different illustrator.


The Busy Man and the Night-time Noises, which I believe was written by Vana Earl around 1954 and I can find no image at all.

These books?  Out of print.  Almost impossible to find or far too expensive on used book sites.  Could there be a market for inexpensive reissued editions of picture books (maybe even board book versions) from, oh, the baby boomer years? 

Just sayin'... 

A bookseller

So, everyone else, what was YOUR favorite childhood picture book?  And is it still in print?


  1. I used to recite The Littlest Rabbit ("Everyone's bigger than I am" -- which was true!). My old, beat-up copy is wedged in my baby book.

    Other than that, the first Little Bear book was a favorite and is still easy to find today.

  2. Oh, I remember The Littlest Rabbit, Caroline! (Robert Kraus, right?) How wonderful that you still have it. So what if it's worse for wear? That shows how much you loved it.

    And yes, Little Bear by Elsie Holmelund Minarik is terrific too. Glad that one's still in print. According to Wikipedia, the original pub date was 1957!

    Thanks for sharing your memories.

  3. I have some books from when my kids were little, but I couldn't begin to remember what my favorites were so long ago! Interesting thought you had.

  4. Thanks, Connie. I had several other favorites whose titles I can't recall.

    Glad you stopped by my blog.

  5. Joanne- my hands down fave is Ferdinand the Bull. It's still around, but I am sure there are some really fantastic ones I can't remember. We had one about a squirrel living in a dollhouse when I was a kid. does that ring a bell? I also remember a book fair book from middle school that I can't recall the title of but adored, and when I try to search it I find nothing.
    This is a great idea!!

  6. We love Ferdinand! My second-grade teacher read this book to my class, and my mother, a Spanish teacher, had a copy in espanol. My sons now own both copies.

    Ferdinand has become a part of our family vocabulary -- when my little guy first started soccer, he'd stand on the field and pick flowers in a very Ferdinand-like way.

  7. And yes! I had the squirrel in the dollhouse book! Can't recall the title, either.

    I also had one about a magical billy goat that carried in his mouth a tablecloth spread with a feast. Only his owner could get him to open his mouth and share.

  8. Thanks, Katharine. Yay for FERDINAND! It's still in print. How lucky for both of you.

    The squirrel in the dollhouse book sounds an awful like MISS SUZY by Miriam Young, illustrated by Arnold Lobel. Could that be what you're thinking of, KO and Caroline?

    I'm not familiar with the magical billy goat one, though.

    What's driving me crazy is not knowing the title of a young reader I adored when I was 7 or 8 that had blanks where some of the nouns were and you pulled out a slip of paper with a word printed on it. So every time you read it, the story was slightly different. Don't remember anything else about it.

  9. Heyward's The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is still in print, but My Very Special Day is not. ("I eat a cheese sandwich without any bread..." *sigh*It's my daughter's favorite as well.)

    1. I did a Google search for the quote about cheese sandwiches above. I did not remember the name of the book from my childhood, but I certainly remember that quote! Could you possibly help me out with an ISBN? And is it also by Heyward? I would love to find a copy of this.

    2. Molly, the only thing I can find is A Very Very Special Day by Frances Ullmann DeArmand from 1963. Can't find an ISBN. They might not have used them then? But I'd suggest you contact Ms. Yingling herself. She'll at least know if My Very Special Day is by Heyward.

    3. I will do that, Joanne. Many thanks!

  10. Hi Ms Yingling! I've never heard of My Very Special Day. Sorry it's out of print. Sounds like fun.

    But I've certainly heard of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes! We still sell it at the bookstore.


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