Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 5, 2018

Monday, November 5 Dedicated Issue: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Houghton Mifflin: The Giver Graphic Novel by Lois Lowry, adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell

Editors' Note

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Anniversary Editions

With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Books for Young Readers Group's Anniversary Editions program, marking the anniversaries of six classic books.

Houghton Mifflin: The Widow's Broom (25th Anniversary Edition) by Chris Van Allsburg

Books & Authors

Catherine Onder Introduces HMH's Anniversary Editions

Cat Onder

Catherine Onder is Senior Vice President and Publisher of the Books for Young Readers Group. In addition to overseeing HMH's children's publishing, she edits such authors as Erin Bow and Ally Carter.

One joy of celebrating anniversary editions is recognizing that these are books that have planted themselves in the hearts and minds of generations of young people. We are honored at HMH to celebrate the 75th anniversaries of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince and Esther Forbes's Johnny Tremain. In both works, the authors engaged with the questions raised by creating at a time of war. What do we fight for? What do we live for?

The 75th anniversary edition of The Little Prince showcases archival photos, sketches, and both personal and academic reflections. Most moving for me is the photo of St. Ex's ID bracelet, recovered many years after his plane was shot down in World War II. For a home address, it lists his publisher. Until his country was free again, he would call books his home.

Capturing the driving energy of Esther Forbes's storytelling is the new introduction and cover of Johnny Tremain by Nathan Hale. A fan of the book since his school days, Hale entices new readers to history and a well-known story through the fresh format of the graphic novel.

Our current times also have me reading a related theme into the 25th anniversary of Chris Van Allsburg's The Widow's Broom--making moral choices in the face of noisy opposition.

"You are a brave woman!" Mr. Spivey called out.
--Chris Van Allsburg, The Widow's Broom (read the book to find out why the widow is even more faithful than brave)

I'll close now so you can hear directly from the renowned creators of three more of HMH's anniversary editions, and a fresh perspective on a timeless classic: Janell Cannon, Kristin Cashore, Lois Lowry and Nathan Hale. I know you'll enjoy their insightful reflections.

Kristin Cashore: Graceling's 10th Anniversary

Kristin Cashore
(photo: Daniel J. Burbach)

Kristin Cashore wrote the New York Times bestsellers Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue and Jane, Unlimited. Graceling is the winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature and Fire is the winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. The books are world travelers, currently scheduled to be published in 34 languages.

The 10th anniversary edition of Graceling includes reimagined cover art, a new afterword and questions for the author. A sneak peek of a few of those questions is below.

What inspired you to write Graceling?

The truest answer is somewhere between I don't know and I can't remember! However, I can say that the whole thing started with the characters. Katsa came into my mind first, and unsurprisingly, she came to me fighting--quarreling, to be more specific--with another character who grew into Po. Really, Graceling began as conversations in my head between two characters who were furious with each other. My job was to listen to them argue and figure out what they were so upset about, what was going on in their world, what that world was like. Katsa and Po kind of formed themselves for me--at the beginning, I was more of an observer than a creator.

Who's your favorite character in the book?

That's a tough one, because I like different characters for different reasons. Characters who are talkative and fairly open are easier to write than characters who are deceptive or taciturn by nature, so Po has always been one of my favorite characters to write. It's never been too hard for me to figure out who he is; he's always happy to show himself to me. I also enjoyed writing my sea captain, Captain Faun, and I enjoyed writing Po's family, because they're so expressive and emotional. But I'm going to have to go with Bitterblue. This is probably because I've gone on to write an entire other book about her, and more than any of my characters, I relate to her most. She has no special powers, she just tries, as hard as she can, always. I think I worry about her the most, too, as if she's my daughter or something.

If you could have a Grace, what would it be?

I've always struggled to learn foreign languages, and envy people for whom this is easy. I think I might choose the Grace of learning and speaking foreign languages.

Lois Lowry: The Giver's 25th Anniversary

Lois Lowry
(photo: Matt Mckee)

Lois Lowry is the author of more than 40 books for children and young adults, including the New York Times bestselling Giver Quartet and popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award and the California Young Reader's Medal. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, Number the Stars and The Giver. Lowry lives in Maine. You can find her at and on Twitter @LoisLowryWriter.

The 25th anniversary edition of The Giver includes a new cover illustration, an afterword and Lowry's 1994 Newbery Medal acceptance speech.

Your author's note digs deep into the world of The Giver--was the fate of the community something you asked yourself about over the past 25 years?

I wrote The Giver in 1992, and after its publication, I probably would have thought about it very infrequently had it not been for the mail. Letters came, and emails, and they continued to come... and come... and come. They seemed to multiply. Each year I received more mail about The Giver than I had the year before.

And the letters raised questions. I found myself unable to stop thinking about the issues raised in the original book, and eventually I tried to answer those questions in the three related books that I called "companion volumes." With the fourth book in the quartet, Son, I thought I had finally tied all the loose ends together.

But, of course, I hadn't. The unanswered question--what happened to the community?--remained. I suppose I had wondered about it myself over the years. I tried to fill in that missing piece when I wrote the Afterword included in the anniversary edition.

I confess, though, that I hope the mail doesn't stop coming.

Do you think The Giver, and the Newbery Medal speech included in this edition, still speak to contemporary children?

When I prepared the acceptance speech for the 1994 Newbery Medal, I thought of, and talked about, some of my own background as an "army brat," in the years that followed World War II. I spoke of my hesitant and exhilarating explorations of a world separate from the sameness I had always known.

Today's world is much more complex than the world I knew as a child, or even the world that existed when I wrote The Giver. I think today's young readers need reminding now, more than ever, that they, like Jonas, have a right... perhaps a duty... to assess the boundaries placed on them by authorities. To look beyond. To try to change what is wrong. 

I see it happening among young people today. I see them recognizing their own power.

I hope The Giver helped some of them make that journey.

How do you feel about The Giver coming to life in graphic novel format?

I'm thrilled. I got a sneak peek, of course, and I know that it is very true to the book. But kids will love the added visual element, and the way that color appears gradually, as it did to Jonas.

Janell Cannon: Stellaluna's 25th Anniversary

Janell Cannon

Janell Cannon's picture books have won many awards and are beloved around the world. She is the author and illustrator of Verdi, Trupp, Little Yau, Crickwing, Pinduli and the long-time bestselling classic Stellaluna. Born and raised in Minnesota, Cannon now lives in Southern California.

The 25th anniversary edition of Stellaluna has a special author's note, updated bat notes in the back matter and downloadable coloring sheets and activities. New enhancing features in this edition include a jacket with deluxe effects, the addition of color to the ink drawings, a conversion of the single page illustrations into full-bleed designs and new reproductions of the art that reveal its true, brilliant color.

Stellaluna was your first picture book. How does it feel to see it turn 25?

Much like just about everything in my life at present. Time is flying by so fast, I feel I can't keep up. I have an old windup clock in the kitchen that, for every rewind, runs for one week. Often, I stop and notice that the clock has stopped, and even though I feel I had just wound it up yesterday, a whole week managed to slip by. Infants' eyes whose first days I gazed into now sport crow's feet, and the children who grew up reading Stellaluna are now having children of their own. I am beginning to feel how it must feel to be a tree watching the blur of life around it.

That said, I am amazed and delighted that Stellaluna has remained a part of the reading community for a quarter century!

How has Stellaluna's story aged? What do you want young readers to take from their reading of it?

One of the things I most hoped to achieve was a universal quality to the story--one which feels familiar to any who read it--with a timeless question asked at the end that points toward an overall spirit of tolerance. Also, unlike the classic Ugly Duckling tale where the gosling was harassed by its peers, Stellaluna's discomfort with herself comes mostly from within, even though the bird family learns to accept her. I hope that kids who read the story gradually see that self-image can color how we think we are perceived by others, sometimes in a negative way, and to develop a clear sense of what's coming from inside us as well as outside us as we navigate life.

Because the book has managed to remain on the shelves of libraries, bookstores and peoples' homes for a full generation, its characters, events and questions apparently continue to ring true.

Nathan Hale: Johnny Tremain's 75th Anniversary

Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale is the author and illustrator of the Eisner-nominated, New York Times bestselling graphic novel series on American history, Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales. He is the illustrator of the graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge and its sequel, Calamity Jack. He also illustrated Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody, The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas and many others. Visit him at

The 75th Anniversary edition of Johnny Tremain includes new jacket art and an illustrated foreword from Nathan Hale.

Tell us about your role in this 75th anniversary edition of Johnny Tremain.

I was asked to create a foreword for the new edition and, because of my background in graphic novels, we made it a comic.

How did you come to this project? 

I love this--the editor on the project was introduced to my work by her son. He's a young fan of my Hazardous Tales series.

What made you interested in being a part of the new edition of Esther Forbes's novel?

I've always been a fan of the book, studied it in school, even watched the old Disney movie in class. When HMH invited me to do a foreword, I jumped at the chance. It's a classic. And to be part of the 75th anniversary is a big honor.

Did you do anything specific to get yourself into a Johnny Tremain-type mindset?

I was already in a revolutionary war mood. I was working on Johnny Tremain at the same time I was writing and illustrating Hazardous Tales #8, which is about Lafayette.

I really enjoyed listening to the Johnny Tremain audio book as well as doing a reread.

Is there anything more you'd like to tell our readers?

I'm hoping the comic foreword will pull readers in--not just into the book, but into the habit of reading forewords.

I've read things in forewords that have not just enhanced the story for me, but stuck with me as I read other books. A few good forewords at a young age have made me a lifelong foreword reader.

Houghton Mifflin: Johnny Tremain (75th Anniversary Edition) by Esther Forbes

Houghton Mifflin: The Little Prince: Includes the History and Making of the Classic Story (75th Anniversary Edition) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Houghton Mifflin: Stellaluna (25th Anniversary Edition) by Janell Cannon

Houghton Mifflin: The Giver (25th Anniversary Edition) by Lois Lowry

Houghton Mifflin: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore

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