Four backlist picture books by Paul Galdone will launch HMH Books’ Folk Tale Classics line this month. Due out with a combined 100,000-copy first printing are The Little Red Hen, The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, and Three Little Kittens. The new gift editions of these books, which have remained constantly in print in several formats since their original appearances in the 1970s and ’80s, are 8 x 8 paper-over-board volumes featuring new, decorative endpapers and revamped cover designs with gold foil accents.

“We identified as a marketplace trend a return to the comfort of the classics,” says Mary Wilcox, v-p and editorial director of Houghton Mifflin Books for Children and HMH Books, of the decision to debut the line. “To meet that demand, we revisited the packaging of these wonderful backlist titles and found a new way to celebrate the content of the books. The beauty of their illustrations and their perennial popularity made them obvious choices to launch the series.”

Born in Budapest in 1907, Galdone immigrated to the United States in 1921 and illustrated more than 300 books for children, many of them adaptations of classic tales. Two of his books received Caldecott Honors—Anatole in 1957 and Anatole and the Cat the following year. Both titles were written by Eve Titus and were originally published by McGraw-Hill. The artist died in 1986.

Galdone’s The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Gingerbread Boy will be added to the Folk Tale Classics line in September. Wilcox says that it’s possible that the series will eventually include stories illustrated by other artists as well.

The 40-page Folk Tale Classics editions are priced at $8.99. Designed by senior designer Cara Llewelyn, the book covers and endpapers both feature nature-themed patterns, to reflect what Wilcox calls “Galdone’s close connection to nature.” The books “definitely have the look of a gift book,” Wilcox says, “but they’re priced for an impulse purchase as well.”

Early response from retailers has been enthusiastic, Wilcox reports. And the books received a warm welcome from librarians at ALA Midwinter. “When we presented them, we literally heard gasps of appreciation,” says the editor. “Of course, it’s kind of like hosting the opening game at your home stadium, but it was very nice to hear how thrilled librarians were to see these new editions.”

The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone. HMH Books, $8.99 Mar. ISBN 978-0-547-37018-7

The Three Bears by Paul Galdone. HMH Books, $8.99 Mar. ISBN 978-0-547-37019-4

The Three Little Pigs by Paul Galdone. HMH Books, $8.99 Mar. ISBN 978-0-547-37020-0

Three Little Kittens by Paul Galdone. HMH Books, $8.99 Mar. ISBN 978-0-547-57575-9