Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's- the Sad Saga.

Thanksgiving is upon us, and as always I am grateful to my readers and thankful that I am able create and share my books with you.

But as happens every year at this time, I receive emails and phone calls from teachers and parents looking for my 1992 illustrated version of  Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's (written by Eileen Spinelli). Thank you all for contacting me.  It is one of my favorite books as well, but no longer available with my illustrations.  Here are recent emails:

Why did someone change the illustrations for Thanksgiving at the Tappletons?  Illustrations with people, rather than wolves, are much more effective.

"This morning I began my search on the internet to purchase a copy of "Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's" as gifts for my family members. The effort was locating a copy of the book with the illustrations of people seated at the dinner table on the front of instead of the current copy which has a group of foxes(?). I think the book has lost some of it's impact and "wow" with the non human illustration."

Amazon review: This is a wonderful Thanksgiving story for children and families--a true classic. However, it was ever so much more effective when the illustrations were of people, not wolves! If you can find an older version with the people illustrations, buy that one instead.

Here is the Sad Saga:  I first illustrated this book in 1980 (fresh out of college- my first job!) Back in the 80's it was very expensive to print in full color, so I illustrated the book with 'pre-separated' 2-color interior art, and a full color cover.(Thankfully that technique is not needed anymore!) Here is the 1982 cover:

Ten years later, I was asked by HarperCollins to re-illustrate this book. In 1992 my full color version was published:

Eileen Spinelli wrote a wonderful, timeless story. I still share this book with my family each year. Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's was available for 23 years. Then in 2002 I made a phone call to HarperCollins and offered to re-illustrate the cover for it's upcoming 25th Anniversary. Unfortunately, I was shocked to receive the news from a young editor that the story was being re-illustrated by another illustrator with the Tappleton family becoming a family of wolves....Yes- WOLVES!

After I got over the initial shock that my version was going out-of-print, I asked, "WHY?" The publisher explained that they felt that "animals" will give the story a non-discript multicultural advantage. I was floored. (I sometimes do not understand publishers!) In my view- this was a classic story with a human family. I do believe that readers of any color can relate to this family story. Should we change all classic story characters because we don't like the color of their skin? Readers are smart. HarperCollins did not need to change a human into a wolf to appeal to all people.

Every year readers contact me searching for my version, and every year I ask HarperCollins to bring my classic version back. (My offer still stands to illustrate a new cover.) I will forever feel that HarperCollins made a big mistake. To all those people who are looking for my book- I am sorry.

If you are interested in giving your view, please drop HarperCollins a line at: feedback2@harpercollins.com

Or email me at MCLeffler@aol.com

Let's hope someday they'll bring the people back!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.


Loreen Leedy said...

What a silly notion, that wolves will be more universal than the original people (sigh)!

Jon Nez said...

It's interesting to see how your art evolved in 10 years. Why didn't they ask to see your wolf renderings I wonder?

June said...

A silly situation indeed... but I must say - I do like your very first illustrations!

Maryann Cocca-Leffler said...

Thanks guys.
Jon- Not sure why they didn't ask me to re-illustrate it...but I probably would have said NO!!- and that is the reason why they never asked me.

cewaye said...

Just sent an email asking that they switch back to your original version. I am a teacher. I have used both copies with my students and the wolves are far less appealing. It is obvious that many agree as the originally illustrated versions sell for hundreds of dollars on Amazon.