My Childhood Classics--Now in New Editions!

Article by liz

I devoured books as a kid, but they were very rarely new books. I loved to reread my favorites. I dog-eared pages so often, it’s more common to find my childhood books missing corners than not! They were my classics: ones that I came back to time and again; ones that I still come back to, when I need a happy touch of familiarity; ones that I can recommend and lend, wholeheartedly. So many of my childhood favorites have been rereleased in new editions lately--here are my favorites to introduce to a new generation!

Catherine, Called Birdy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547722184
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin - June 19th, 2012

CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY is the most destroyed book I own. The spine is cracked. Corners have been torn from nearly every page. The clear laminate on the cover has peeled up in multiple pages. Child fingerprint-sized water stains mark the middle edges of pages from multiple trips to the pool (I needed SOMETHING to do on those mandatory five-minute breaks). I could not have been happier when Houghton Mifflin issued a 20th anniversary re-release. Catherine, called Birdy for the songbirds she keeps in her room, keeps a daily diary of her life as the child of a minor lord in 1290 England. Her diary tells of the goings-on of her manor and her ongoing efforts to thwart her father’s plans of marriage for her.

Birdy’s life in 1290 is full of things I’d never heard of--Michaelmas, bearbaitings, Christmas celebrations that last TWELVE WHOLE DAYS--but I felt such a kinship with her. She devours every book she can get her hands on, paints murals on her walls, and wishes for a life beyond the tedium of daily chores that being a highborn manor lady entails. Her fear of being caged and trapped like one of her birds, in a loveless marriage arranged solely for her father’s gain, made me corner my father in several very demanding and undoubtedly confusing (for him) conversations. Birdy’s compassion for the poor of her village and the downtrodden of medieval times instilled a caring in me that I’ve only just started to comprehend as an adult--and her voice is wry, charming, and funny like you wouldn’t believe. I’ll never forget this book.

Number the Stars Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544340008
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin - October 7th, 2014

Someone probably made you read NUMBER THE STARS in elementary school. Did you hate it? It’s okay if you did; this is a pretty heavy book. And I remember resenting this book at first; I never liked someone TELLING me what to read. I was that obnoxious child who assumed her own book selections were far superior than my teacher’s. NUMBER THE STARS, when I finished it, was the exception to my general rudeness. This amazing book took my breath away. Recently re-released in a 25th anniversary hardcover--with a new introduction by Lois Lowry!--NUMBER THE STARS tells the heartbreaking and thrilling story of Annemarie, a a girl who joins the Danish Resistance in World War II to save her Jewish best friend from being arrested, deported, and sent to a concentration camp. Annemarie’s family hides Ellen as part of the family to sneak her to safety, and they weren’t alone--historically, the Danish Resistance smuggled nearly the entire Jewish population of Denmark, almost seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden.

Annemarie’s courage awed and humbled me as I read this book--I loved my friends, but would I be able to stand up to soldiers, to death, for them? The danger and constant fear is very real in this book--but the love and courage is, too. I couldn’t believe this was a true story as a child--these acts of everyday heroism simply couldn’t have been real. As an adult, now, I know these things did, and still do, happen--and they give me the same chills they gave me when I was ten.


The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs 25th Anniversary Edition Cover Image
By Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780451471956
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - October 2nd, 2014

I devoured everything Jon Scieszka touched when I was a child--he’s probably single-handedly responsible for my sarcastic sense of humor and oddly specific knowledge of certain historical periods (thanks, TIME WARP TRIO). His longtime collaborator Lane Smith’s iconic mixed-media art illustrated my dreams for many years. Their classic THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES brought a delightfully real and ridiculous touch to the classic stories I’d been read sanitized and sterile versions of, and as a slightly offbeat child, I loved any silly takes on fairy tales and folk tales. I was ecstatic when I found out Scieszka and Smith had issued an invitation to revisit A. Wolf and his tragic tale--he’s still sticking to his story after twenty-five years in the Big House. THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS made me laugh until I had a stomach ache as a kid--and five minutes ago, just now, as I flipped through it to refresh my memory and write this corner. Poor Al just wanted to borrow a cup of sugar from his piggy neighbors--he just wanted to bake a cake for his granny! Was it his fault he had a terrible cold and couldn’t stop sneezing? And hey, if you saw a ham dinner just sitting there in the middle of a destroyed house, you’d eat it, right? C’mon, cut a wolf some slack.

Little Women (Puffin in Bloom) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780147514011
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Puffin Books - August 28th, 2014

I’m delighted that publishers are creating a renaissance in classic books. Re-releases and new editions of classics bring a time-honored touch to a modern kid’s bookshelf, or for the collector who can’t pass up the perfect new edition of that old favorite. Puffin Books just released the Puffin in Bloom series, an absolutely GORGEOUS re-release of classic titles, with cover art by renowned stationery brand Rifle Paper Co.’s lead artist, Anna Bond. Not only are these loopy, lovely covers absolutely enchanting, but these editions feature supplementary materials I would have obsessed over as a child--character glossaries, background historical information, even recipes! We’re going to have them all for the holidays, so treat your young readers to a collection of these classics: LITTLE WOMEN, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, A LITTLE PRINCESS, and HEIDI.

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