In our online Facebook group, Potato Peel Pie Book Community, we often bemoan the loss of good and great books which fall out of publication and quietly disappear while people forget about them. In fact, many of us have become vintage book hunters who are trying to build up our personal libraries with these kinds of books before they become truly hard to find. Not infrequently, we talk about which of our favorite books we would love to see reprinted in hardbound with the kind of finishing touches that would make them family heirlooms. This month that bookish dream turned into reality for Ralph Moody fans, thanks to Purple House Press.
Sadly, over time, Ralph Moody’s Little Britches books fell out of hardbound print and are now only printed in paperback. For those of us who know and love this series of books, the paperback printing doesn’t hold up to family use, and trying to find vintage copies is not only hard, but often disappointing since some of the editions were printed with strange covers which did not match the story well.
Just over a year ago, Jill Morgan at Purple House Press asked Facebook fans which books they would love to see come back into print (or in this case hardcover print) with all of the high quality nuances that Purple House Press always brings to its printings. I was not alone in my campaign to see Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers make the cut. When Jill told me that she was in conversation with the owners of the rights, I was overjoyed! And since then, I have had the pleasure of watching how she works and how much care she puts into doing a book right.
If you are not familiar with Little Britches, please check out our page dedicated to the series here.
I personally ordered six copies of this beautiful book during the pre-release: one for my library, one for each of my children for Christmas, and two as Christmas gifts for godchildren. If Purple House Press sells 1,000 copies, it will begin work on the second book in the series: Little Britches: Man of the Family. We are not affiliated with Purple House Press, but we are big fans of Ralph Moody, big fans of the work that PHP is doing, and we are eager to see the next book in the series get printed. In this post, I would like to give you a tour of the new hardback book and highlight some of the delightful touches that make this more than just a regular book.
Something fun to note: instead of just reprinting the original edition, Purple House Press took the best of two different printings and put them together into one special legacy piece, then added something special to the end. The pages of text (and corresponding illustration) are from the first edition printing and are the same as the Bison Books paperback edition currently in print. The cover and end pages are from the People’s Book Club edition published by Sears.
The final pages of the Purple House Press edition of Father and I Were Ranchers are from a limited edition sixteen-page pamphlet from People’s Book Club. We think that it may have been an ad sent to prospective buyers to entice them to buy the “new” Little Britches book, Man of the Family. The pamphlet included a two-page letter from Ralph, a two-page letter from his professor, Marshall Harbison, some letters from readers, and some other promotional material. Purple House Press included Ralph’s letter from that pamphlet in this book. It is powerful letter. Every time I read it, I think about how blessed our culture would be if we had more families like the Moodys.
“I wrote (the stories) so that some of our younger people might see how the self-respecting common people of this country lived forty to fifty years ago. I wanted them to feel the warmth of the close family circle, where the mother made the home and bound it together with her own affection. And I wanted to show them the joy, pride, and self-satisfaction that, for me, has always been a part of providing for a family with my own two hands.” -Ralph Moody, 1952
As mentioned above, this four-color pictorial cover is true to the People’s Book Club edition published by Sears. It has a silky texture and is lovely to hold. Jill chose to print the cover and the dust jacket with the same four color process. She mentioned that she knows that a growing number of people discard dust jackets (don’t throw tomatoes at me, but I am often one of those kind of people), so she wanted collectors to have the option of shelving the book with or without a dust jacket.
The end papers (inside cover) of the book are also from the People’s Book Club edition.
Like lots of other readers I know, I am always worried about breaking the bindings of my books. I read my books a little awkwardly so as not to ever really open the book all the way lest it should crack and lose its shape. Again, this book is special. Instead of being glued, PHP used a Smyth-sewn binding, and the printer chose to give it tightness that allows the book to lie flatter than most books without damaging the binding. Again, I am impressed.
Where to buy Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers (no affiliate link)
Want your local bookstore or library to stock this book? Give them this page.
Curious about the other books in the photo above? We have reviews here.