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Revamping the Little House on the Prairie

Newsweek looks at the marketing plans in store for the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE novels, the classic series by Laura Ingalls Wilder that celebrates its 75th anniversary this month. And the plans are big, and also somewhat drastic, because the first eight stories appear with photos of models as Laura instead of with the Garth Williams illustrations. (The text is unchanged.) “Girls might feel the Garth Williams art is too old-fashioned,” says Tara Weikum, executive editor for the “Little House” series. “We wanted to convey the fact that these are action-packed. There were dust storms and locusts. And they had to build a cabin from scratch.” (The new tag line: “Little House, Big Adventure.”)

And the cover art changes aren’t just limited to Laura’s world; expect new covers for upcoming editions of Madeleine L’Engle‘s A WRINKLE IN TIME and let’s not forget the reissued CHARLOTTE WEB with Dakota Fanning on the cover. “Purists are often upset. But this is also a way for publishers … to beef up sales,” says Diane Roback, children’s editor for Publishers Weekly. “The book jackets we as adults are accustomed to seeing, and love from our childhood, may look musty and dusty to today’s kids.” Allison Edheimer, 9, wants the photo version of the “Little House” series. “I’d rather read something where I can picture the person,” she says. Rachael Ross, 10, agrees: “I like seeing real people better than drawings,” she says. “Drawings look sort of fake.”

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