Monday, 16 April 2012
When is a Ladybird Book ...
One of my nerdy pleasures in life is when someone contacts me and asks me if I can help them to identify a book that they remember from childhood. I'm often only given fragments to piece together - they might describe a picture from one of the pages, the first line of a verse or one of the characters. Sometimes these fragments have been mixed up over the years in the memory - adding to the complexity of the task. But I usually get there in the end.
To make matters worse though, sometimes people will describe a book to you and swear blind that it was a Ladybird Book - only quite clearly it wasn't. As Ladybird's success grew and grew through the 1950s and 1960s, other publishers jumped on board and attempted to emulate the success by copying the size and layout of the books. One of the main culprits here are 'Jack and Jill' Books (Fleetway).
You have to look pretty closely to realise that a Jack and Jill book isn't a Ladybird from the early 1960s - the format is almost identical. They had buff boards with a mono-colour line drawing on the front inside a full colour dustwrapper.
The price (2/6) is written on the inside of the front DJ flap and other Jack and Jill titles are listed on the back DJ flap.
I've collected quite a few of them over the years just so I could keep a record of the titles in the series. That way I know what that when someone asks me why they can't find a copy of "A Medal for Spangles" or "Pixie Pip at the Fair" for sale on my website, I know it's another case of Ladybird impersonation!
I meant to finish this post by listing all the Titles (16 - 20 from memory)in the J&J series. But I seem to have packed them away somewhere in my last attic tidy up. So if anyone has the set, feel free to add a comment.