5 kid's books that are probably out of print that you should try to find anyway

Updated Nov 9 2016
Kickle Snifters and Other Fearsome Critters is available… for 28 dollars.

OUT-OF-PRINT BOOKS: why do they tease book lovers so? They're always out there, calling out to you from awesome lists (ahem), just making you wish you could scoop them up and bring them home forever. To me the only thing worse than your everyday out of print book is a CHILDREN's out-of-print book. I've experienced what can only be likened to anguish after discovering an incredible children's book is no longer available without dropping $180 on it online.

Sometimes you get lucky — like we did when Alvin Schwartz's Kickle Snifters and Other Fearsome Critters showed up at our local library's book sale. I'm not sure what about this book draws our entire family to it, because it's not especially educational or informative. It's essentially a collection of folk tales for kids — each tale is based on a longer, more detailed version that's been passed down through generations. In fact, this book was my first introduction to the famed Gowrow from Arkansas.

I decided to make my own list of out-of-print kid's books mostly so you could all share in this pain with it — AND because I happily discovered two of my top choices have been revived and are decidedly IN-print now. REJOICE!

HAPPY FUN TIMES: Claire Huchet Bishop's The Man Who Lost His Head was out-of-print until it was rescued from the clutches of obscurity a few years ago. I've included in this list in case you haven't seen it before OR you remember it from yonder year and are now in a state of ecstasy since you know it's purchasable.

If you're of the former group and have never opened this book up, get ready for a delight — The Man Who Lost His Head is a awesomely illustrated romp into the silly-but-also-moralistic: when the main character wakes up one morning without his head, he goes on a journey to try to find it. After going through substitute after substitute a little boy helps him wake up. The moral of the story? Keep your shit together, kids, or you're going to lose your favorite toy (or homework, pen, socks, etc.). The story is probably best for the 3 and up crowd.

The Hat on Amazon | Barnes and Noble ($7.42).

You may recognize The Hat if you've watched Good Night Gorilla with your kids — an animated version of the book appears on the film.

Author and illustrator Tomi Ungerer has produced over 140 books, and The Hat is one of them! In this tale a magical hat makes all of the dreams of its wearer come true. The book is significantly longer and more wordy than the film version, so it may be best for kids with longer attention spans than your average toddler.

FYI: Most of the books for for kids, but Ungerer has delved in decidedly adult-only erotic illustration, so you never know what might pop up if you Google his name!

Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor is $21 on Amazon, or $172 if you want the original from Barnes & Noble.

Marvyn Peake's Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor is about one of the fiercest pirates around — or at least he was fierce, until he met the Yellow Creature and decided he would rather be a friend than foe. The book was briefly reissued in 2009 so right now it's still relatively inexpensive to find the newer version online.

The original isn't going to be easily purchased online — or rather, it definitely won't be cheaply purchased. You can snag it for $172.48 at Barnes & Noble, but that's totally your call!

I was super excited to discover that The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had been reissued — this story is powerful. Originally written in 1947 but not discovered and published until after the author's death, The Secret River is about a little girl named Calpurnia and her puppy Buggy-horse, who are on a mission to "turn hard times into soft times." Topics like poverty, struggle, and business are covered in a big-kid-friendly way that still keeps it real — in the book Calpurnia learns that nothing is free. This book is perfect for eight to ten-year-olds who are looking for a young heroine to root for.

What amazing out-of-print finds have you guys lucked into?

  1. We're Floridians, so loving Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is pretty much required. I can't remember how our girl ended up with a battered old copy of Secret River, but it is really good.

  2. I hear you! "The Wind Between the Stars" written by our most loved New Zealand's children's author Margaret Mahy and beautifully illustrated by Brian Froud, has been out of print for eons. And I'm desperate for a copy. http://www.amazon.com/Wind-Between-Stars-Margaret-Mahy/dp/0460066617/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346799609&sr=8-1&keywords=margaret+mahy+the+wind+between+the+stars
    I read it at the library years ago but I've never known anyone to actually own a copy, even though many people love it. Why is it out of print, I'm asking, Why?!

  3. How funny, I just finished reading The Hat to my 20 month old. It's one of my old ones that, thankfully, I saved. I love it because of it's obvious Italian references. I had no idea it should be a classic!

  4. I loved Silverspurs as a child. I gave it away but was able to find a great copy on Amazon to buy. It's an elf so small that he goes inside the toys to fix them. Since houses are being made without chimneies Santa can't get in any more. Silverspurs becomes Santa's lockpick so he can leave the presents. The pictures are very elaborate but with muted colors. Only published for 2 years in the 70's.

  5. One of my favourite books growing up was Midnight Moon. I have my copy which is still in amazingly good condition but I was pretty sad when my friend had her daughter and it was not in print. But it's been reprinted! I was able to give her son a copy when he was born. It's wonderfully lyrical/poetic and feels a bit like a lullaby reading it. I still have parts of it memorized and look forward to reading it to my own kids some day.

    Thankfully, a good number of my childhood books survive and thus I can pass them on. And a bunch of Raymond Briggs' books are being reprinted so that was also a joy.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.