Monday, 12 January 2015

Happy Birthday Ladybird!

It's Happy 100th Birthday, Ladybird! Yes, the iconic children's books are exactly 100 years old today and if, like me, you grew up with these lovely little volumes then that fact can't fail to fill you with a warm glow of nostalgia.

Who can forget Peter and Jane? Personally, the non-fiction titles (Exploring Space; How it works... Television; The Road Makers) were my favourites while my sister went for classic tales re-told: Rapunzel, The Elves and the Shoemaker and The Gingerbread Boy.

Thankfully, my own children still read them: there's a sizeable collection still at Grandma's to add to the ones I seem to have incorporated into my own library over the years. Charlie, when we're away, has a habit of choosing 'Tootles the Taxi' whilst Eloise, I'm pleased to say, is in Disney cold-turkey with a penchant for the aforementioned Rapunzel. Not a tangled hair in sight!

I'm delighted the little gems are still glistening; the simple appeal is timeless even if, at times, the text isn't quite as politically-correct as we'd now expect. And over the years they've inspired their fair share of parody titles. I'm not sure there ever was a Ladybird Book of Hallucinogenic Drugs...


Still less, a Let's Make Bombs...


I rather like the idea of a Ladybird Book of Breasts, though, as well as a Book of Superfluous Facial Hair.



But when all's said and done, the best titles were always above parody anyway. Some years ago my (eldest) daughter bought me a fabulous Ladybird mug complete with an example of the iconic Ladybird art and an extract which purported to be from the Ladybird Book of Cricket.



And until recently, I thought that was parody too. But no, it's there in the original - a time-capsule memory of a moment when such things actually happened. Or if they didn't, when they ought to have done.

Happy Birthday Ladybird!

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