Saturday, 24 January 2009

Illustrated Books Of The Week - Little Golden Books

Imagine you have three pounds burning a hole in your pocket. What do you buy - a vente caramel frappuccino from Starbucks?  3/4 of a tube ticket in Central London? Or a design classic that you and your family will enjoy for years to come? 
Tough choice, isn't it?

(I'm just going to assume that everyone chose the final option here, but if you did choose the Starbucks - please stop reading now, and leave this blog at once. Shame on you.)


These are definitely my find of the week.  Apparently, while I was learning about Janet and John in the Ladybird books of my childhood, milliions of American kids were being treated to fantastic modernist illustrations in a series called 'Little Golden Books'. 

Launched in the 1940's, the series became ubiquitous throughout the States (over two billion printed!), but, as far as I know, they remain mostly unknown here in the UK. In 2001, 'Classic Little Golden Books' were launched, with reprints of the most beautiful of the series. 

The very excellent Gosh! Comics are selling a large selection of Little Golden Books - and here's the best part - each little treasure costs only £2.99 - Mid-century Modern classics at under a fiver? Fantastic.

These three are starting my collection. First we have the glorious I Can Fly, illustrated by Mary Blair. 


The Road to Oz - with beautiful illustrations by Harry Mcnaught (loving Johnny's outfit here)


And Gustaf Tenggren's Tawny Scrawny Lion - which, though it looks like a simple fable for children, is actually an early piece of vegetarian/foodie propaganda. According to the story, if you make a good enough carrot stew with fresh local produce, then even a lion will swear off eating meat. From carnivore to locavore - a very modern message for 1952. No wonder the bunnies look so happy.


The amount of style, energy and sheer joy in theses books is truly inspiring - give them to your little one and before you know it, they'll be appreciating Eames and George Nelson as much as you do....

1 comment:

  1. Golden Books! I have about 60 of these! I collected them as a child.... now they seem so chic haha! My parents are holding them now... i must get home and put them in some sort of display.
    And Elaine Irwin? Surely my long lost older sister?! perhaps i should get hold of some of her old vogue covers and put them in my folio... do you think anyone would notice? She was fabulous. Bring back supermodel style girls to the catwalks of the world. The Power. The Glory!
    xx zanita