Recently discovered work by two classic children’s authors will appear on bookstore shelves in the coming months. Random House Books for Young Readers will release Richard Scarry’s Best Lowly Worm Book Ever! in August, and the following month will publish Horton and the Kwuggerbug! by Dr. Seuss, a follow-up to 2011’s The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories.
Golden Books began publishing Scarry’s work in the late 1940s, after he arrived in New York City to pursue a career in commercial art. Random House later published a line of his books in the 1970s, and when that company acquired Golden Books in 2001, the Scarry backlists came together under one roof. The author, who died in 1994, wrote more than 100 books, which have been translated into dozens of languages and sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.
Scarry’s son, Richard (Huck) Scarry Jr., discovered the manuscript and sketches for Best Lowly Worm Book Ever in his father’s studio. Huck (who was so nicknamed by his father after Huckleberry Finn, and whose name in turn inspired Huckle the Cat) began working with his father as a teenager on the Busytown books, and has continued to create books in Richard Scarry’s artistic style for years. He completed and colored the illustrations for the new book, which follows Lowly through a typically busy day. True to Richard Scarry tradition, the book introduces early childhood words and concepts, and includes a search-and-find “Where’s Lowly?” section as well as a counting lesson.
Mallory Loehr, v-p and publishing director of Random House and Golden Books for Young Readers, notes that Huck Scarry “has a fun, artistic sensibility, and slips into his father’s world in a very seamless way. He loves creating his art, and clearly gets these characters in the very same way his dad did.”
Random House last year launched a Richard Scarry rebranding program featuring a fresh cover design, which kicked off with a new edition of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever! to celebrate its 50th year in print. The rebranding, which entails scanning the books’ original artwork, will run through 2016 and involves rebranding 10 of the author’s “big books,” including Busy, Busy Town, and Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, as well as some board books and out-of-print titles. Due in September is a rebranded edition of Richard Scarry’s The Night Before Christmas!
A Seussian Find
The uncovering of Dr. Seuss’s Horton and the Kwuggerbug! was a different sort of discovery. Unseen for 60 years, these four stories (like those collected in The Bippolo Seed) were among the author’s short fiction published in Redbook magazine in the early 1960s, but never released in book form. The new collection features familiar Seussian faces and places—including Horton the Elephant, Marco, Mulberry Street, and a grinch of a different color—as well as a commentary by Seuss scholar Charles D. Cohen.
Cohen tracked down the original magazines in which the stories appeared, and purchased multiple copies for a few dollars each. He eventually posted copies of these magazine for sale online, some of which were bought by Cathy Goldsmith, v-p and associate publishing director of Random House/Golden Books Young Readers Group, who served as art director on Geisel’s last books, including Hunches in Bunches, You’re Only Old Once! and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! “Ted had never mentioned that he wrote for magazines,” Goldsmith recalls. “But I took one look at the stories and the art and there was no question in my mind that they were genuine.”
When Random House decided to collect some of the stories in book form, Goldsmith tackled the task of enhancing Seuss’s nearly 60-year-old drawings. This entailed enlarging Seuss’s black line art and adding color to the original images, which appeared in the magazines in two colors. “Cathy did an amazing job enhancing the original art, and it was very special in that she had worked with Ted personally,” says Mallory Loehr. “We had quite a bit of discussion about what color the grinch in this book should be—because he’s a grinch but not the Grinch!” (As it turns out, this grinch is ochre.)
“The magic of Richard Scarry and Dr. Seuss will always appeal to children,” says Loehr of these books’ longevity. “Regardless of what the digital age has introduced, kids still want to learn about and explore the world through these pages.”
Seuss fans dropping by the Random House booth (2839) can pick up a button promoting Horton and the Kwuggerbug!