Shannon Cullen, Puffin Fiction Publisher, introduces the newly redesigned A Puffin Book series – and wants to hear about your favourite Puffin memories…
Do you have a favourite from these timeless, unforgettable tales? Did you spend time at the riverbank with Tarka the Otter , under the floorboards with The Borrowers, or in the front room with The Family from One End Street?
This July, we are bringing twenty extraordinary and much-loved stories to life for new readers to discover as we launch our series: A Puffin Book. When asked to recall favourite books, it’s often the stories from childhood that top many people’s list. I think reading is one of the most satisfying personal experiences, and being able to share that joy of a much-loved book with devoted fans – young and old – makes it even more enjoyable.
Puffin has been publishing the very best children’s stories for almost 75 years. It’s been a joy to revisit these books and to give them new jackets. While the characters face their struggles on the pages, the books have had their own hurdles to overcome. Despite paper shortages during the Second World War, Puffin printed 40,000 copies of the first paperback edition of The Family from One End Street in 1942. A trip to the Puffin Archive, now stored beneath the library at the University of Bristol, reveals titbits like this and more among editors’ letters, first drafts and original hand-drawn covers.You’ll find these treasures scattered across the Extra! Extra! Read all about it! pages at the end of every A Puffin Book and, from 23rd July, Waterstones Piccadilly will be hosting A Puffin Book Summer Exhibition so readers can discover more about these stories than ever before.
So why is it important to come back to books every now and again to give them a new look? Well, we would be doing a disservice to both readers and authors if we didn’t want to ensure that the jackets always look the most appealing for a modern child. Sometimes we decide the existing cover just needs a ‘polish’, but more often than not we take the opportunity to do something fresh, which is not only fun, but a great responsibility to do each book justice. This time, for example, we’ve gone dotty over Annie, and Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat sports a brilliantly vibrant orange jacket.
I would find it impossible to choose my own favourite story from this collection. These are books to cherish in so many different ways; each book has its own unique message that I know will resonate with a reader of today as much as it did when it was first published. Who could forget The Cay, Theodore Taylor’s thought-provoking exploration of prejudice, Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story with its exhilarating fantasy adventure, or how Philippa Pearce captures that all-too-common childhood desperation for a pet in A Dog So Small.
The joy of discovering characters and worlds that truly fire up and expand your imagination is one of the richest gifts you can give a child. These are books to be shared; books to remember. These are stories to last a lifetime. I hope you enjoy reading, revisiting and sharing them as much as we have enjoyed publishing them. Along the way we’ve all found ourselves riffling through our old bookshelves and looking fondly at the covers we’ve grown up with. Post us a photograph of your old, beloved puffins and we might just send you a new one, so you can pass the story on, just tweet @puffinbooks using #ShareAPuffinBook.
Shannon Cullen, Publisher, Puffin Fiction
Win a colony of puffins!
Head over to the competition page for your chance to win all twenty in the new A Puffin Book collection.
Which is your favourite? Tweet @puffinbook your memories or a photo of your old, beloved cover and they might just send you a new A Puffin Book so you can pass the story on.
Explore covers past and present as well as a plethora of rare archive material at the A Puffin Book summer exhibition at Waterstones Piccadilly, from July 23rd.