Small Press Spotlight: Purple House Press

Elizabeth Bluemle -- November 30th, 2010

For some time now, I’ve meant to start a recurring feature highlighting some of our favorite small presses. We independent booksellers are always working to get the message out about the wonderful benefits we offer to readers; just as important is our support of smaller indie publishers, who likewise depend on us to recognize and value (and buy) the unique books they have to offer. In this economy especially, we need to put our money where our mouths are. Let’s hear it for small presses!

The first spotlight shines on PURPLE HOUSE PRESS. Our bookstore was about four years old when this small press started up in 2000. They were dedicated to bringing back rescued treasures from out of print. I was immediately delighted by their selections; several of their books were favorites from my own childhood. I was also impressed by the quality of the books, with their wonderful paper and top-notch production values.

From Mr. Pine’s Purple House (the book by Leonard Kessler that inspired publisher Jill Morgan to start the press in the first place) to cartoonist Gary Larson’s favorite book as a three-year-old, Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat by Morrell Gipson, illustrated by Angela, to Astrid Lindgren’s The Brothers Lionheart to Clifford B. Hicks’s The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald, Purple House Press only brings back time-tested child favorites. I love their taste in books, and their carefully chosen, just-a-few-new-titles-every-year publishing schedule, which seems to ensure that all of the books they bring back stay in print.

I had a rare, wonderful, heart-stopping moment because of PHP some years ago, when I was browsing through their titles online and saw a book cover that brought back a flood of memories. I hadn’t thought about Miss Suzy in about 35 years, but when I spotted Arnold Lobel’s drawing of a small gray squirrel with two toy soldiers, my heart actually stopped beating for a second. As a little child, I had been FASCINATED by Miss Suzy’s plight with a band of mean red squirrels who chase her from her home. (She gets help from the toy soldiers.) I can’t tell you exactly why I loved that book so much, but it certainly had something to do with Lobel’s signature soft, rounded, friendly illustrations, and the slightly scary adventure with the mean squirrels written by Miriam Young.

Purple House Press’s complete catalog is small and star-studded. Enjoy browsing through books that might plunge YOU back in time to your enchanted childhood self. Booksellers, librarians, teachers, and book buyers everywhere — please consider bringing these gems to your shelves and introducing them to a whole new generation of young readers.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make a Purple House Press order. I’m not kidding. Money, meet mouth.

9 thoughts on “Small Press Spotlight: Purple House Press

  1. Jon Herak

    This is my the first time on your site.
    I am attempting to write my first children’s book and I am researching on how to publish it, Wow! nothing short of pure discouragement.
    I have a great talent for story telling but I have weak grammar skills and use the spell check like a walker. Two very good reasons not to write a book but after reading all your comments it reminds me of why I should!
    No disability should ever stop inspiration. After reading on how the children in you all are still inspired has inspired me! I hope that one day I can read the love for my story as you all have for theirs. Thank you and happy reading!
    P.S Miss Suzy is still on my kids wall!

  2. Leigh

    My Purple House Press favorites from childhood are The Duchess Bakes a Cake and A Pair of Red Clogs. So glad that they’re still in print!

  3. Debbie Vilardi

    Beloved books live on forever in memory. Glad to know there’s a press creating new memories for them. We have my husband’s copy of Miss Suzy. My nine year old returns to it for a break from chapters. I bet it goes to the next generation from her.

  4. Erin

    Oh, wow, I hadn’t thought about Miss Suzy for years, but I read it so many times as a kid. I’ll bet my mom still has the original copy — will have to dig through some boxes at Christmas, and if I turn up empty, look for Purple House’s version…

    Thanks for that blast from the past…

  5. Vicky

    We LOVE Purple House Press, too! Miss Suzy is wonderful – and we are really excited to have the Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher reprinted finally!! It’s one of those timeless and unforgettable silly Christmas books kids love to read over and over again.

  6. Heidi Kortman

    David and the Phoenix! I remember that one. I don’t have my copy anymore, because it’s gotten absorbed by my nieces and nephews.

  7. stacy

    I have been trying to figure out what the purple house book I loved as a kid was for FOREVER. I’m so glad to find it here–and I’ll be buying at least one copy (for me) for Christmas, and possibly more as gifts. Thanks!

  8. Foundation for Children's Books

    I loved Miss Suzy, too! I have my childhood version, with a few happy scribbles on the end papers, and then I had the exact same reaction when I saw Purple House Press’ re-issue diplayed a few years back at Wellesley Booksmith. Of course, I bought the “new” one, too. There’s something about her cozy house in the tree and her acorn mugs…I loved it then and I still do. Thanks for reminding me!

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