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Picture book blues

Sorry to be a bit of a downer, folks, but two news stories today gave me a touch of the picture book blues. First, there was word that the Mr. Men and Little Misses books are heading off to new corporate masters. Not that I have anything against these books (don’t want to be called out as Mr. Grumpy here!), but considering how the hardcover picture book market has been eviscerated by mass market over the years, it’s a little depressing to see so much value placed on these characters when hardcovers are dying on the vine. Feels like it’s been a while since a hardcover character got a similar courtship from the major media conglomerates—even Fancy Nancy ain’t that fancy.

And then there’s the whole Amazon kerfuffle on the Room for Debate page of the Times. Certainly, the level of anger and vitriol against our industry is enough to discourage anyone associated with books, but it’s extremely depressing for a picture book enthusiast to read the comments bashing traditional publishers. Because picture books are one of the few formats where a traditional publisher provides an indisputably vital function–can you imagine Amazon attempting to shape, edit, design, and package a picture book, not to mention pairing a writer with an artist in the first place? If the Big Six really go the way of the dodo, it’s going to be a very bleak day for the art of the picture book.

Now, I know these blues will pass, because the death of Big Six publishing has (per usual) been overstated of late. Plus, the picture book market, while not what it used to be, is still out there. In fact, one of the first projects I sold here at DGLM was a picture book, so I’m still very actively looking for author/illustrators. And the Society of Illustrators is gearing up for its annual picture book art show, which is always a great reminder of the incredible talent working in picture books today—well worth a visit if you’re in NYC this fall.

Still, if anyone’s got any uplifting picture book thoughts or news, I’d love to hear them. And full disclosure, I’m also getting pretty sick of reading the same books over and over to my toddlers–so new picture book recommendations would be very much welcomed. I’m sure they’d buoy my spirits!

9 Responses to Picture book blues

  1. Chin up! So long as there are babies and so long as e-readers are breakable, there will be picture books.

    I’m thankful for Amazon. Really. When it’s too inconvenient to shop with my local book store, I use Amazon and I am happy to do so. Even as they seem to gobble up more of the market, I hope they realize how important the publishing houses are to the business. With its top exec recently undercutting the value of everyone who isn’t the author or reader, I wonder.

  2. Tamara says:

    Oooh! One of my favorites to recommend: Professor Wormbog in Search of the Zipperumpazoo. One of my favs as a kid and now one of my kids’ favorites.

    Like you, I LOVE hard copy picture books. I buy way too many. But I have to say, I’m really digging what Oceanhouse Media is doing with Dr. Seuss and lots of other good kids books. I have them on both my android phone and on my android tablet, and my kids read the same book in hard copy and on those devices. They don’t seem to prefer one over the other.

    I have to say that I’m so optimistic about picture books. All I have to do is to think about how I felt as a kid holding that new book in my sticky, sweaty palms, and I get all shivery!

  3. Averil Dean says:

    How I loved picture books when I was a little girl. My mother, an Australian native who spent much of her childhood in Japan, has kept a copy of May Gibbs’ classic Gum-Nut Babies in her dresser drawer all her life. It’s the most charming, lyrical book you can imagine, all about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and little Ragged Blossom, with ominous appearances by the big bad Banksia Man. The characters are tiny and churubic, with acorn caps on their heads and an expression of puckered surprise at all times. I looked for that book when my niece was born and could find only a vintage copy that would have set me back $100.

    For myself, it was always the C.W. Anderson books about horses. The Blind Connemara was my favorite.

  4. Kaitlyne says:

    The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen. It’s fantastic!

  5. NAP says:

    As far as recommendations, Chowder by Peter Brown is good. Hooway for Wodney the Wat by Lester is excellent. It may only be in PB now. It’s a funny read.

    -NAP

  6. BuisdiskNug says:

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  7. Taxyskams says:

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  8. CaggiliSpawit says:

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