the best friends you’ll never have

If you’re at all interested in children’s literature, and have a special spot in your heart for children’s literature aimed at girls written in the ’80s and ’90s, then you’ve probably already read the interview with Lois Lowry on the New York website.

The Anastasia I grew up with, as pictured in a random eBay auction

The Anastasia books are getting rereleased, and as they normally do nowadays when they rerelease books, some changes are being made. The one that is the most odious to me is that the title of Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst is being changed to Anastasia Off Her Rocker, which sounds dumb to me. The publishers didn’t think that the original title would be appealing to kids now, but frankly, I don’t see how it was any more appealing back in my day–by then, they didn’t call psychiatrists/therapists/psychologists “analysts” anymore. Kids read the book because they loved Anastasia. But I digress.

On the one hand, I’m really excited to see the books in print again. I’m also excited at the prospect of Lois Lowry finishing the tenth Anastasia book she started after Anastasia Absolutely came out, and the publishers said Anastasia books weren’t selling well enough to keep publishing them. (Boo, publishers!) But on the other hand, it does raise some interesting questions, the first being–why do we have to edit books for the current generation? Sometimes I can understand it, like if there is content that is now offensive, like how the original scene in Mary Poppins where they went and visited peoples of the woirld was later revised to have them visit animals instead.

But things like exchanging Margaret’s pad belt for adhesive with wings rub me the wrong way. Yes, it confused me when I was younger, and when we got the Internet, it was probably one of the first things I looked up, since it had confused me so much. And I suppose that today’s kids’ parents are of a generation that never had to deal with sanitary pad belts, so kids can’t ask their parents. But to me, things like this help retain the flavor of the period the books were written in. Anastasia is an interesting case though, because she was based on Amy Carter and ended during the Clinton administration. So her period stretches for a fairly long time.

But that period has definitely passed. I feel like there is a huge difference in the way my generation lived as children without the Internet and how children now live. So many plots would be ruined by cell phones. I don’t even think that the Baby-Sitters Club would be possible now. There’d be no reason to have meetings, probably, and kids wouldn’t be allowed at 11, 12, 13 to go sit at the houses of people their parents don’t know. I think it’s telling that Scholastic switched from releasing edited paperback versions of the books to simply releasing them as ebooks as-is. I don’t think the market for the BSC is there for kids now, at least not enough to warrant the cost of editing, all-new cover art, and printing, but there is a market for people to buy them for nostalgia purposes, or for a handful of kids to want to download them to their iPad or Kindle after being introduced to them by their parents.

I’m definitely going to check out the Anastasia books for comparison purposes, even if it’s just to help encourage Lois Lowry’s publishers to have her complete that last book. Do you think publishers should update books for new generations, or do you prefer a period feel?

9 Responses To This Post

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jessdvd said, October 1st, 2014 at 8:19 pm


I agree with you that I hate publishers updating books to take out outdated things even if I grudgingly understand why. I laugh a little bit at them taking out s*** because that’s probably where I learned that word and my parents probably didn’t know that. I also am not happy about the change to Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst because… well, it’s really just a family thing, my dad used to tell me to tell it to my analyst when I was being difficult or pretend difficult (which he got from that book) and we now use it endearingly to each other.

I will probably buy every single one of the reboots despite that I own them all already, just to encourage the publishers to have her finish the last one.

Eowyn said, October 5th, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Anastasia was Jewish?

Myu said, October 6th, 2014 at 4:52 pm

OHMEHGERD ANASTASIA. I loved those books so much. Thanks for linking to the interview! Although I did have a UK edition and I’m 99.9% the ‘Fat Fanny Pantyhose’ name was still in there (‘pantyhose’ might have been changed to ‘tights’, though), which I found pretty hilar.

I’m inclined to agree about the ‘updating books for the current generation’ concept from the point of view of a reader. The publisher’s decision just seems really driven by the ‘we don’t know the book series but that’s not important because we know WHAT SELLS’ type of marketing. But YA/children’s publishing tends to suffer that way because the publisher kind of has to cater towards adults as well, since they’re the ones who’ll actually buy or recommend (or actively not recommend) the book.

I kind of hate that the snappiness of ‘…Ask Your Analyst’ is lost in the new title, and I hope they don’t change the text to match (I think the last line of the book is Anastasia’s mother saying ‘ask your analyst!’).

greer said, October 8th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

@jessdvd YES. Actually, I forget about it, but they updated the Alice books, and it’s not too odious. But with the title change, I think the Anastasia publishers might be taking a different route :( I will definitely buy them all and put them on ereader and read them over and over.

@Eowyn, “Krupnik” can be a Jewish last name, but I don’t think it was ever a thing in the books.

@myu the new title is so much less snappy, I agree. Re: adults, interesting point–I never thought about it, maybe because my parents never really chose books for me, especially by the time I was old enough to read Anastasia.

jessdvd said, December 12th, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Just a quick update here – I put the first 4 updated Anastasia books on my PBS wish list even though they haven’t been published yet, in hopes of getting re-gifts or something, and even though the first book doesn’t come out till early 2015, I got it there already and it arrived today. The only changes that I noticed (and I compared to my extremely battered copy of the original) were changing black to African-American (unsurprising) in referring to Washburn Cummings, the student in Mr. K’s class says “crock of -” instead of the original word (I thought maybe they’d say “‘crock of’ and then added a word that would have had him sent to the principal’s office at Anastasia’s school” or something like that, and the more interesting one IMO, is in the part where Mr. & Mrs. K tell Anastasia they’re expecting, they took out the bit of dialogue where Mrs. K specifies it’s a test for women 35 years or older, and just skipped straight from “It’s a test” to “that tells you what the baby is”. Presumably they’re referring to an amniocentesis, which is to my knowledge almost always given to women considered to be “advanced” maternal age? but I’m not sure why they would have taken that out here.

Regardless, I am super excited about the re-releases and this one seems to be a good start. LL wrote a couple page intro for it too, which was nice.

greer said, December 13th, 2014 at 10:04 am

@jessdvd, Awesome! Did you get an ARC?
Interesting about the amniocentesis. Not sure why they would take it out, unless they figure that it would cause some sort of controversy with abortion.
Definitely interested in reading it, and I’ll be at my mom’s when they come out, so I’ll be able to compare with my books.

jessdvd said, December 13th, 2014 at 1:56 pm

It doesn’t appear to be an ARC, which was my expectation when I got the wish granted email even though PBS doesn’t allow ARCs to be posted. I have no idea how she got it a month early but I’m not complaining :)

greer said, December 13th, 2014 at 4:10 pm

@jessdvd it’s a mystery that only the BSC could solve ;)

jessdvd said, December 13th, 2014 at 9:55 pm


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