Monday, 28 January 2008

Cinderella has a ball in charity shop

Once upon a time ... it was possible to walk into a secondhand bookshop and come across rows of lovely matt, 1960s Ladybird Books priced at 50p each. This was quite a few years ago, when I had just started collecting.

Now it's pretty rare to come across a shelf-full anywhere at any price. But some charity shops are more enlightened in Ladybird Lore than others and know not to throw out matt cover gems just because they aren't in perfect condition or with a wipe-clean surface.

The shop in the picture is 'Oxfam Books and Music' in West Market Place, Cirencester in the Cotswolds, a stone's throw from the parish church in the centre of town. They have a lot of very good condition early Well-loved Tales for sale as well as good clean copies from other popular series.

Not at 50p each of course, but it's a good cause.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Frank Hampson

I've just put together a new page in the 'Artists' section on the illustrator Frank Hampson. Frank was one of the small group of artists who, after war time service, worked for The Eagle comic before moving to Ladybird in the 1960s.

But before working on this page, I hadn't realised how instrumental Hampson had been in the very creation of The Eagle and how central a role it played in his life as an artist. Hampson is best known for Dan Dare - the character he created from the very birth of The Eagle. By comparison, Hampson's work for Ladybird was less all-consuming - perhaps a way to pay the bills when he felt forced to leave The Eagle. But the artistic freedom he had enjoyed producing comic-strips led him to take a very unusual approach to some of the more 'mundane' topics he illustrated for Ladybird. He often illustrated scenes from a very unexpected perspective - giving his books a rather surreal appeal.

The most creative Ladybird commission he got was to illustrate the three 1960s Nursery Rhymes books. Hampson's unconventional approach either appealled strongly to children - or rather scared them. I was in the latter camp, personally - but lots of people seem to recall these books with great affection and they are getting harder and harder to find now.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

And the winner is ...

It will come as no surprise to long-standing LB book collectors to hear that this year Nicole (from Australia) was the first to crack the Christmas quiz. (Answers from two other continents followed swiftly behind hers). But Nicole wins back her tinsel crown for another year.

The answers were:

Christmas Carol: Memory
Our Land ...: Anglo-Saxon
Weather: Rainfall
Mick: Lucky
Musical Instruments: Eighteenth
Toys and Games: Yacht
Downy: Splash

Beauty & Beast: Gift
Great Inventions: Hall
Raleigh: Overseas
Numbers: Sweets
The Party: Trousers

The hidden character was therefore ... Marley's Ghost.

Happy New Year