It's that strange time of year between Christmas and New Year, and I'm cheating a little bit with my Ladybird Tuesday post today. I'm going to look at a book which I received as a Christmas present - Boys and Girls: A Ladybird Book of Childhood. Although it was only published in 2007 it seems to be currently out of print. My Mum managed to track down a second hand copy for me, which is in excellent condition.
It's a large, hardback book, and it's divided into chapters which reflect many of the topics that the Ladybird books are famous for - including 'at home', 'things to do' and 'special days'. It is stuffed full of vintage illustrations from the books and unedited full page extracts, featuring the familiar Ladybird typeface. It's the sort of book that you can dip in and out of rather than read through in one go.
At the end there is a short introduction to the Ladybird Key Words Reading Scheme, and a complete list of all the Ladybird books published, divided by series, from the 1940s to 1980s. During this time, 646 Ladybird titles were published, in 63 series.
I'm slightly too young to have enjoyed a true Ladybird childhood. For me, the nostalgia in Ladybird books comes from memories of reading the older books, and having them read to me, when I was little. A great deal of the book did strike a chord with me though.
A large number of the pages are titled after different types of experience or activity, with a list of things that would have been noticed by a child. My favourite page is titled 'being ill', accompanied by a picture of a small child in bed cutting out pictures from a catalogue. Some of the things on the page - 'My bedroom looks different in the daytime', 'Lunch on a tray', 'A box of tissues and a bucket by my bed' and 'Fall asleep even though it's light' - reflect perfectly things that I remember from childhood. It's a real nostalgia fest.
There are also short articles contributed by famous Ladybird book fans and a detailed account of themes found in the books and the volumes that are best known for reflecting them. It's a full and rich history of both Ladybird books and the period in history that they represent, and if you have an interest in Ladybird books I'd definitely recommend tracking down a copy - as a start there are several copies available through second hand sellers on Amazon.
If you're looking for another wonderful Ladybird related item I can also recommend Postcards from Ladybird which is a collection of 100 vintage Ladybird covers reproduced as postcards. I received them as a gift recently and use four of them in a small photo wall which I blogged about here.
Amazon links are affiliate.