Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Short Sunday Brunch, Accompanied by Coughing and Sneezing

Sometimes a holiday season ends with a bang. Other times it ends with a whimper. This year it’s going out with a cough and sneeze. Since I have a bad cold, can barely see the computer screen through my blurry eyes and can barely type due to my aching bones, today’s Sunday brunch will be a bit short, providing follow-up to previous blog entries on limited editions, dead authors, and Christmas Eve reading -- and including some new merchandising pieces related to children’s books.


Earlier this week I wrote about receiving a signed, sixtieth anniversary edition of MY FATHER’S DRAGON by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Only 125 slipcased copies were printed. A friend pointed out that still has a handful in stock...though after they’re gone, no more will be printed. This got me wondering how many other limited edition children’s books were published in 2008. Searching on Amazon, I only found PETER PAN : A CLASSIC COLLECTIBLE POP-UP by Robert Sabuda...though the description offers no clue as to what separates this $250 limited edition from the regular $29.99 edition.

Incidentally, most Amazon records have a box on the screen that tells whether a book is available on Kindle. If not, you can click on the box to inform the publisher “I’d like to read this book on Kindle.”

How many people do you think clicked on the box, saying they’d like to read this pop-up book on Kindle?


Earlier this week, I posted a blog entry called “Auld Acquaintance,” listing children’s book authors and illustrators who died during 2008. Judith from Sydney, Australia wrote to add that Eleanor Spence also died this year. I’ve amended the original blog entry to include this info, but am also posting it here:

Eleanor Spence died September 30 at age 79

A former teacher and librarian, Australian author Eleanor Spence was known for tackling challenging issues in a number of well-regarded novels for young readers. She received the “Book of the Year Award” from the Children’s Book Council of Australia in 1964 for THE GREEN LAUREL and again in 1977 for a novel concerning autism, THE OCTOBER CHILD.


A couple weeks back I mentioned that I planned to read the new young-adult book LET IT SNOW : THREE HOLIDAY ROMANCES on Christmas Eve.This collection of interrelated short stories -- set on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and the day after Christmas -- is written by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle, all of whom have proven their chops with earlier novels. However, I’ve got to say that none of them are at their best in this paperback volume. The characters are generally likable and the prose is often amusing, but each of these overlong stories suffers from a hard-to-believe premise and an “everything but the kitchen sink” style of writing. A friend of mine also read this book on Christmas Eve and reported that she accidentally set the book down on a dirty dinner plate -- and didn’t notice until the next day. It didn't distress her much, since she wasn't a fan of the book either. Although LET IT SNOW is pretty weak, I am making a point of adding this book to the library collection where I work. A paperback original,it probably won’t remain in print for too many years. As the careers of Green, Johnson, and Myracle continue to grow, readers will want to track down everything they’ve written (even a weak book like this) and so it’s important to preserve this book on the library shelves. Besides, people are always looking for new Christmas stories. And most importantly -- just because I didn't like the book doesn't mean someone else won't love it. I felt the same way when I read CINDERELLA 2000 by Mavis Jukes a few years ago. A romance set on the eve of the new millennium, the book was fun and frothy at best, slight and forgettable at worst...yet I thought it was important to add the book to the library’s collection because I’m sure there will come a time when someone wants to know how Y2K was observed in children’s books at the end of the twentieth century...and we’ll have CINDERELLA 2000 as an example to share with them.


Earlier this week, a blog reader sent a note saying they were trying to identify a book they once read as a child. This person provided no details about the title. If you are searching for a vaguely-remembered title, feel free to post your question in the comments below -- or you can write directly to me at Please include as much detail about the plot and characters as you can remember and make sure to give an approximate time period when you read the book. (So many requests say, “I read it as a child” but don’t say WHEN they were a child. That makes a big difference in trying to figure out the publication date.) If I can’t answer it, I will post the question here and maybe someone reading the blog can figure it out.

Another great place to track down fondly-remembered books is:

Loganberry Books has a “Stump the Bookseller” page on their website where, for $2.00 you can submit a query. They seem to have a good record of solving these questions.

Based on statistics here at Collecting Children’s Books, many visitors are looking for that book about “A babysitter who makes soda pop come out of the faucets” (MR. PUDGINS by Ruth Christoffer Carlsen) and the book about “two kids who run away to a museum” (FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E> FRANKWEILER by E.L. Konigsburg.)


I just started a new young adult novel, ON BEALE STREET by Ronald Kidd. Set in 1954 Memphis, one of the characters includes the young Elvis Presley, wearing two-toned shoes and fresh off recording his first demo for Sun Records. Ronald Kidd joins Shelley Pearsall (ALL SHOOK UP) and Audrey Couloumbis (LOVE ME TENDER) in writing 2008 young adult books about Elvis Presley -- though the latter titles concern impersonators, while ON BEALE STREET is about the real king, I mean the real thing.


January 26, 2009 brings the announcement of the children’s book awards at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference. Many websites have posted Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott lists. Kyra at Black Threads in Kids Lit reports that she’s started a Mock Coretta Scott King Awards list at her site. For more details, please visit:


Finally, I thought I’d share a few of the recent children’s book marketing pieces I’ve been given, which range from Lemony Snickett tattoos to a Dr. Seuss button and -- my favorite -- a Junie B. Jones keychain shaped like a flip-flop.

Thanks for visiting Collecting Children’s Books.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're going to continue the blog. Thank you, thank you. I hope your coughing and sneezing go away soon. Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

abebooks brought back their forums where you can try to find that half-remembered book