Random House Books for Young Readers has acquired the rights to Ruth Chew’s 29-book canon of middle-grade fantasy novels. The books, many of which have fallen out of print, will reach a new generation of readers beginning in fall 2013, when No Such Thing As a Witch and What the Witch Left will be released in simultaneous hardcover and paperback editions. Also due in the fall is Ruth Chew’s Big Witch Book, an e-book omnibus containing The Witch’s Buttons, The Witch’s Garden, and Witch’s Cat, marking the first time the author’s work will be available digitally. Each subsequent publishing season, the company will issue two new Chew titles and one e-book omnibus.
A Minneapolis native and a longtime Brooklyn resident, Chew, who died in 2010 at the age of 90, worked as a fashion artist before she began writing stories about witches for the youngest of her five children. In 1969, she published the first of these, The Wednesday Witch, the tale of a witch who travels via a magical flying vacuum cleaner. The novel is said to have been rejected by editors at 10 houses before Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, an editor at Scholastic, helped the author revise it for publication. Scholastic went on to publish many of Chew’s tales of children encountering magic, which the company sold widely through its book clubs.
Slated for spring 2014 release are a second e-book omnibus and two of Chew’s most popular titles, The Trouble with Magic and Magic in the Park, due in dual hardcover and paperback editions. All of the reissues will feature new cover art inspired by the original cover designs and will retain Chew’s original black and white interior illustrations.
Mallory Loehr, v-p and publishing director of the Random House/Golden Books for Young Readers Group, acquired the Chew books from Gail Fortune of the Talbot Fortune Agency. She told PW she looks forward to reintroducing these novels to the children’s marketplace. “I am so pleased to be able to bring old classics to children today, and to their parents who may very well have experienced the magic of Ruth Chew books themselves. Having Ruth Chew books available as e-books for the first time will certainly add to their accessibility, and I am thrilled that we will finally be able to share them next fall.”