Like many of us, Ladybird Books were a big part of my early childhood.
With their simplified depictions of British society and the natural world, they helped inform me about a world that my own experiences dipped in and out of. Yes, they stuck to a naive, middle-class, protected version of the world – which was also my childhood – but they formed the basis of my younger self's understanding of how things worked the way they did from language to science. And their takes on fairy tales didn't sanitise the horrors of Hans Christian Anderson, The Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault's tales – as many contemporary children's books did.
Core to the appeal of Ladybird Books was also their beautifully painted illustrations. While still living within the same Pleasantville as the book's narratives, the presented the world as a place to be explored and enjoyed, full of friendly people who want to explain how it all works to you. Again naive, but endearing.
These illustrations were collected earlier this year for a book, Ladybird by Design by Lawrence Zeegan, and an associated free exhibition at the De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea. The exhibition is now on in London, appearing at the House of Illustration in Granary Square (next to Central Saint Martins, behind King's Cross station) from until September 27 2015.
Artwork: Illustration by Harry Wingfield from Shopping with Mother, 1958. © Ladybird Books
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