Spotted net: Keywords

Covers through the ages

In an attempt to index my kw collection I have crudely organised them into three main catagories which I describe as sets A, B and C .(It may be noted that set C can be further classified into matt and glossy catagories). In laymen's terms these are:

  • Set A, the earliest, has a 'hand-written' font on its title and wide-spaced numbering on the spine.
  • Set B has a more blocky title font and narrow spaced numbering on spine; note also the ladybird logo.
  • Set C is completely different in cover presentation, and has revised illustrations.

The very first title was 1a Play with us.

The revised illustration is by J H Wingfield. Although modernised with groovy clothes, the high street is comfortably devoid of chain stores and supermarkets. Concessions to feminism seems to have been made with Jane's attire other than that it represents the cosiness of an early 60's childhood in comfortable middle England.

Look at this 1b was also originally published in 1964 the updated version, again by Wingfield still aspired to the pre-feminist era - but note the sharp concession to grrll power illustrated on page 11. I find it hard to believe that Ladybird continued to print this copy well into the 80s (or even 90s) what with typewriters, cash registers and corner shops a thing of the past.

And so we move on to Read and write 1c...

Lovely illustrations by J.H. Wingfield - the girl on pg.8 reminds me of Peter Blake's Fairy Queen. Ruralist Pop Art at its most accessible. Ah if only we could borrow Dr. Evil's time machine and collect the goodies on page 11! On pg. 27 other Ladybird titles are visually alluded to such as Air, Wind and Flight, Trees, Astralian mammals Story of flight and a selection of keywords. A real gem of self-promotion; with possibly the puppet figure on pg.28 a model from the "How to Make" series.

We have fun 2a

Compare two versions of this title. The earlier one (set a) was published in 1964 and illustrated by Martin Aitchison - soft and sugary in the days when dogs were welcome in sweet-shops. Aitchison, like Hampson and Humphris, gained his reputation as an Eagle artist. Their ability to adapt to the market is exemplified with, in Aitchison's case, Luck of the Legion, a hard-nosed action set within the Foreign Legion as a strip for Eagle, harshly outlined and not a butter-scotch ball in sight. (At least I don't think so).

Oddly the up-dated version, surely published well after the canine embargo, depicts, anachronistically, a different shop interior of what I'd say much the same vintage down to the dog Pat, well flaunting health and hygiene regulations. Illustrated irresponsibly by Harry Wingfield. The illustration on page 7 of this version appears fuzzy, and curiously in more than one copy - but perhaps I just happen to own the two defective books.

Have a go, 2c.

Once again I'm comparing the earliest with the latest. Aitchison continues to employ a dreamy colourful style. I'm a bit young to remember more than Bertie Basset, sherbert dabs, Roses and Milk Tray on display on p.7

The pet shop owner appears to have a disturbing side-line, I guess rationing was still fresh in one's mind and what else would you do with Flopsy once he passed away. Interestingly Aitchison was called in to revise the illustrations in the 1976 edition. A politcally correct text with corresponding images replaces sweets with trees no doubt pandering to the eco-friendly brigade. Even mother looks years younger since she shed that dowdy dress in favour of denims. Plus ca change.

Things we like 3a.

First published in 1964 - oddly, 2c was first published in 1965 Illustrated by that master of photo-realism, John Berry.

An oblique reference to joy-riding with daddy appears on pages 28-31. Pg 45 depicts a beautiful study in line where less is more. A wonderful array of cinnamon balls and barley sugar is to be found on pg.39. Our revised copy (set 3) is illustrated again by Aitchison; more upbeat in visual terms: mother discards the cardi in favour of slacks'n'sweater. Healthy eating puts pay to the sweetshop with apples replacing tooth rot items. Bring back the soor plums is what I say!

Boys and Girls 3b

The two later versions are both illustrated by Aitchison, though I can't help feeling that an in-house style similar to John Berry's is emerging, particularly on p51.

Dad seems to get to do all the fun things while mother appears in 3 modes: tea-maker, server and washer-upper. Whatever happened to Chopper bikes?

Let me write 3c

First published in 1965 with illustrations by R. Ayton, this title has one of the cosiest and nostalgic feels to it. However detractors would quite rightly point out its 'gendering awareness' to be that of the victorian age.

In the revised edition 1972, Aitchison again returns to revamp Jane's wardrobe. Spangles replace the glacier fruits and even I concede the cakes look yummier...

Things we do 4a

Illustrated by J.H.Wingfield, the product placement exercise on pgs 20-21 look reassuringly familiar in the revised edition however, rather worryingly, an unspecified box,suggesting something pharmaceutical is displayed in the earlier version.

Fun at the farm 4b.

A 'set b' version illustrated by Wingfield. Beautiful pastoral scenes with a smattering of arson and vandalism on pages 37 and 39.

Say the sound, 4c

A second set version illustrated by Wingfield. Duchamp meets Hopper in an unlikely Home Counties location.

Where we go, 5a

Originally illustrated by John Berry and an absolute must for Berry fans -check out pg 51 for a domestic scene par excellence - but surely that's not a portrait of mein fuehrer by the vase...! Up-dated by that old stalwart Aitchison and I am relieved to say Dad has succumbed to new-manism.

Out in the sun 5b

This 1965 title boasts fine illustrations by Frank 'The Eagle' Hampson. The illustration on pg.51 exemplifies Frank's gift for suggesting both intimacy and cool observation by the near vertigious perspective employed.

Let's look at those class signifiers again: - The Degas on the wall, the exposed cricket page, the fresh carnations on the cherrywood bureau...whose house is this?

The revised illustrations by Aitchison are no where near as attractive, reflecting the ugliest decade, the 70's. Simon shirts and personalised mugs. Note the illustration on p51... what on earth do these wilted flowers represent.. surely not a critique of the career woman?

And unless I'm very much mistaken there's Carlos having a dialogue with a member of the P.L.O. faction on p13.

End of part one... More

On the bus
School by John Berry (from 1964 ed. of 3a)
In the shop
Sweet shop by H Wingfield (from 3rd version of 2a)
At home
At Home by Frank Hampson (from 1965 ed. of 5b)

Back to main page