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...
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!