I'll keep this week's post brief and send all readers off on a mission instead. This is the weekend for Wisconsin's Annual SCBWI conference. I'm here to soak up the inspiration and fellowship of writers and illustrators, not to mention the wit and wisdom of a stellar faculty.
In attempting to create quality literature of lasting value for young readers, I was reminded of an all-time classic that is, sadly, no longer in print. Nor are related titles by the talented gentle genius of Edna Miller.
The good news is that it is such a favorite, such a classic, that you still might find it in libraries. Few are willing to discard it, despite age or condition. You might even find it has been rebound without the appealing cover (but that is a reproduction of one of the remarkable images inside, so you will still be able to see it.)
Or you might know a still-active teacher from decades past (or a younger one who inherited a classroom with such a room library and did not discard by publication date or tattered condition) who might allow you to see it, if not borrow it.
Mousekin is worth the chase. And don't worry about missing Halloween, since this story takes place in the wake of Halloween, bridging that gap between October's end and the onset of Thanksgiving. In fact, Mousekin's story makes an ideal Thanksgiving story, as well as one involving such concepts as food chains, seasons, hibernation, camouflage, and other associations. (Teachers, think Common Core State Standards.)
Miller's Mousekin was such a beloved character, and her books a perennial financial success, that an array of holiday and seasonal titles were published, none of which are still in print. I was able to track down a few listed at much more reasonable prices, used, and all of which embody Miller's expressive and vulnerable illustrations. Not necessarily the ones pictured, and please don't ask me where I found them, just use your favorite search engine.
Prentice-Hall, is now a major producer of academic materials, and is a division of Pearson (producing and promoting everything related to standardized tests and academic measurements). Per Wikipedia (take that as a reliable source if you choose to, but otherwise I was unable to track down the corporate history of what was once a leading producer of quality children's books), its trade book publishing ended in 1991, about seven years after it was taken over by Gulf Western. It later folded into various corporate structures and eventually sold to Pearson as a producer of curricular materials.
My call to any and all current publishers of quality children's books is to consider purchasing the print rights to these titles and to release them once again. You'll not only provide access to these incomparable classics to eager young readers, including teachers, librarians, and families. You could well be creating welcome cash flow for your company, since I'd wager my next slice of cheesecake that these would become among the most active on your backlist for decades to come.
(Speaking of commercialism, can we say character franchise and mobile apps, boys and girls?)
Then continue to search for each of these seasonal and other titles. Perhaps the great DATA COLLECTORS IN THE CLOUD will crunch some impressive numbers that will catch the eye of a savvy publisher.
And then, just maybe, new generations of young readers will have the opportunity to fall in love with Mousekin and share his many adventures.
Let me know how goes your search!