Oct 22, 2012

A Perfect Choice All Year Long... If You Can Find It

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. 

Prentice-Hall, 1964
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.

If you're someone who bemoans the fact that Halloween items rear their commercial heads as early as August, and now, long before the end of October, Christmas items make their ubiquitous appearance in stores, here's the book for you. But...good luck finding MOUSEKIN'S GOLDEN HOUSE by Edna Miller. It's out of print, although readily available online, if you are willing to pay or bid anywhere from  $59 to upwards of several hundred dollars.

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?)

So, readers, here is your mission, if you choose to accept it. Start your own search now for MOUSEKIN'S GOLDEN HOUSE. You won't regret it, and your search is so much easier given online tools for used bookstores, library collections, and sales sources. If you get your hands on a copy, see if you agree with my raves, for story, language, character, and images. Then share it. SHARE it, please.

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!


  1. Jenny, if anyone can find it, you will. And your girls will love it! Check back in when you are successful.

  2. Quite the coincidence! My family read Mousekin's Golden House for the first time last month. We borrowed a well-read copy from our library system. What a treasure of a book! Now to find the other books.

    1. It's wonderful to have you share the news that Mousekin still finds a home on library shelves. I'm also happy to hear that your family treasures his story as I do. And now that I've found your blog, I subscribed and hope to come across surprises of my own! Thank you, and check back if you come across Mousekin's trail in his other titles!


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