Monday, June 2, 2008

Mr. Still In Print

At least once a day I hear a customer say one of the following things:

"I loved this book when I was a kid."
"I haven't seen this book in years."
"I can't believe this book is still in print!"

It always makes me happy when someone finds a much-loved and unexpected book in our store. Books such as Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar never get a "I can't believe you have this book" comment. Most people know how popular those books are and expect them to still be in print. It's the surprises that get reactions.

Obviously, different people remember different books, but here are a few that consistently get commented on:
  • Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Sometimes, Katy and the Big Snow and Choo Choo invoke memories too.
  • Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág
  • The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright
  • The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward
  • Any book by Bill Peet
  • Any book by Leo Lionni
  • Any Choose Your Own Adventure book
And the number one series that gets exclaimed over the most? Without a doubt, it's Roger Hargreaves' Mr. Men/Little Miss series. Don't know what I'm talking about? Here's a refresher:

Did you just say to yourself: "I can't believe those books are still in print!" You did, didn't you?

Yes, thankfully, these wonderful miniature books (with only a couple of exceptions) are currently in print and available from Penguin. New books in the series continue to be published every year, despite the fact that Roger Hargreaves died twenty years ago. The new books are written by Roger's son, Adam Hargreaves.

It is unbelievable how many people remember these books from their childhood. And almost everyone says the same thing: "I always wanted to collect ALL the books." If you've ever seen a Mr. Men or a Little Miss book, you'll know that on the back of every book is an illustrated list of the other titles in the series. One of the coolest things I'm able to do as a bookseller is to order all the titles listed. And, best of all, I get to watch them go home every day with customers who have remembered them for years, or ones who have just discovered them.

Do you remember these books? See the new poll on the sidebar.

What books have you been thrilled to see again?


  1. I chose "I can't believe they're still in print," meaning, "WHY are they still in print?" We have a bunch in our library collection, and they are still madly popular. Small format, bright, appealing characters on the covers? Apparently all it takes.

  2. Oh my gosh, I ADORED those books. And I had FORGOTTEN ALL ABOUT THEM!

  3. I was horrified the other day when I tried to replace one of our library's copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and it was no longer available in good old trade cloth! How can that be - I thought it would be available forever.

  4. I was way excited when they started reprinting the Choose Your Own Adventures series. They've updated them, though, so the kids have cell phones and whatnot now. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I keep buying them for the library anyway.

  5. Lisa- good question. I remember loving these books as a kid... I think because there were so many and fun to read. I don't think the attraction would be the same if I discovered them as an adult.

    Erin- Aha! I knew I'd find someone who loved these books and had forgotten them. =)

    Cary's Girl- As far as I know the hardcover of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is in print. I just saw a few copies yesterday when I unpacked an order from Penguin. Here's the ISBN: 9780399208539

    Adrienne- I loved Choose Your Own Adventures too... and am so glad they're back in print. The current ones seem more violent than the ones I remembered. They also have a new beginning reader choose your own adventure series that I really like.

  6. My kids like the Mister/Miss books (they have a set of ten purchased from Scholastic). More than I do!

    I love finding old favorites still (or back) in print--and I'm often surprised by what *isn't* in print anymore. Then sometimes names get changed--Janet Lunn's Twin Spell has become Double Spell! Highly recommended, by the way.

  7. I think that the reason I always loved the Little Mr./Miss books is because I loved to think about which one I would be (of course, as much as I wanted to me Little Miss Sunshine, I think I was probably more of a Little Miss Chatterbox or Mr. Grumpy). I see t-shirts with the pictures on them from time to time (I think most recently for children in either Gap Kids or a similar store, although in college a friend from England sent me a Little Miss Sunshine t-shirt. One can always dream... :)

    One series of books that I have fond memories of but probably shouldn't admit to was a series of romance books, something like Heartfire or Starfire Romances. Each one was had the title of the heroine, with each taking place during a different historical period in American history, and the heroine always had to choose between two suitors (who, of course, were pictured on the cover. and of course she always chose the more virtuous one). I LOVED those when I was about 11-12 years old and I recently did a search on Amazon (out of nostalgia) and discovered that they were out of print but still available in used copies.

    Again, probably shouldn't admit to loving those books :) Not great literature but I think that they got me interested in historical fiction (or maybe since I was already interested in history I enjoyed those books).

  8. I'm actually sort of horrified they are still in print. When I was in library school they were held up as an example of stereotypes. The Men doing "manly" things, the Misses doing "girly" things.

    As for Janet Lunn's book - I believe that the title was different in the U.S. and Canada when first published.

  9. Anonymous- you raise an excellent point and one that had never occurred to me. Thanks for pointing it out.

  10. I have a collection of Scholastic Books on dvd, and just tripped over one called "Drummer Hoff". My son was fascinated by the story, and my husband vaguely remembered it from his own childhood. The illustrations are really cool. I'm going to see if the local library has a copy.

  11. I like the Little Miss/Mr Men site. When my daughter was a baby, I made a "Little Miss Fussy" one for her and "Little Miss Curmudgeonly" one for myself:

    I'm glad for the New York Review of Books that brough back Esther Averill's Jenny Linsky books and Eleanor Farjeon's The Little Bookroom

  12. I just found several boxes of paperback books from elementary school and junior high (so exciting! there's a big post on that coming)--one of them was The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill. I should read it to the kids!

  13. Pirate Ninja Mommy- I love Drummer Hoff. I'm sure your library has it (as you've probably discovered by now) because it won the Caldecott medal.

    Alkelda- I agree, the New York Review of Books have been great about bringing back classics. It's really terrific.

    Anamaria- How funny that both you and Alkelda mentioned the Esther Averill books! Congratulations on finding old boxes of books... that must have been very exciting.

  14. I'm an author and when I do school visits, the kids always ask about what books I loved as a kid. When I talk about Bill Peet and even the librarians look blank, I die a little inside. Every time.