Dedicated to old Ladybird books - 1914 -1975

Search Results

john kenney

History artwork
Artists, Events, History

An afternoon with John Kenney

Last week I spent an afternoon surrounded by the artwork of the Ladybird artist John Kenney.  I went to The MERL (Museum of English Rural Life) in Reading where the Special Collections are stored.  I’ve talked about MERL and the…

Read more
Art

John Kenney

John Kenney illustrated some of the best loved Ladybird Books of the 1950s, 60s and 70s John T E Kenney produced a great many of the wonderful Ladybird Book images at the start of what might be called the ‘golden…

Read more

King John and the Magna Carta, 1969, Series 561

King John and the Magna Carta was the 27th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  This book was never issued with a dustwrapper – at least, not until the facsimile editions started to appear in around 2015.

In this colourful telling of the life and times of bad King John, writer L du Garde Peach and artist John Kenney seem to be enjoying themselves – both text and illustrations dance along in lively fashion.  Yet the long-running collaboration between these two men was coming to an end.  They would go on to illustrate only two more books together.

This book is in excellent condition – as nice a copy as you’re likely to find. The pages are very clean and tight – they barely appear to have been opened.    Originally priced at 15p, it dates to the early 1970s.

 

Read more

Tootles the Taxi, 1956 (DJ)

Tootles the Taxi was the 9th book to be published in series 413 – the second series of Ladybird books ever produced.  The 413 series is quite a  random mixture of tales and rhymes – but all for pre-school children.   Tootles, written by Joyce Clegg, turned out to be one of Ladybird’s best-loved and bestselling books of all time.  It is made by the superb John Kenney illustrations.  Kenney illustrated Tootles at around the same time as he illustrated some of the Railway Series book (Thomas the Tank Engine).  The Rev. Awdry was particularly pleased with Kenney’s illustrations of his series – but Kenney’s skills weren’t confined to jaunty pictures of vehicles with faces.  He also illustrated The Circus Comes to Town, Robin Hood and most of the History series for Ladybird.  In such high regard was this book held that, in 1999, when the Ladybird factory was closed down, all employees were given a special, souvenir edition of this book as a parting gift.

This copy:

This copy still has its original duswrapper.  It’s quite hard to find Tootles in good condition because it was such a well-loved book but, although it has its faults, this book is in remarkable condition.  There’s very little sign of wear even to the dustwrapper and the book is also in great condition.  However, there’s a scratch and a pen mark top left of the DJ panel (see photo).   There are also several pen marks on the inside DJ flap and the odd mark/foxing to the first few pages.  This copy has a close-wing logo and white endpapers so I would date it to the early 1960s.

Read more

Through-the-Ages: Food

‘Through the Ages’ Food was the first of the two ‘Through the Ages’ books, series 606f.  It was written by Muriel Goaman and was illustrated by Frank Hampson.  As ever, Hampson brings his vivid imagination to the story, creating drama and humour to the scenes of the book.  There is some evidence to suggest that this book was first illustrated by John Kenney – so why it was  then re-illustrated by Hampson, is still unclear.

This copy:

Matt boards.  It is just about in good condition although there’s a lot of wear to the spine.  Open it up, however, and you will find a nice clean copy.  It dates from the early 1970s and has an original price of 15p on the back.

Read more

Joan of Arc, 1971, Series 561 (later cover)

Joan of Arc was the 28th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney – one of the last books issued before the ill-health of Kenney put an end to this great collaboration.  I had this book as a child and read it many times.  There were so few important women in the Adventures in History series that any book with a woman actually on the cover was bound to seize my attention.  Of course, rooting for Joan meant booing for the English – but I seem to have reconciled myself to the idea without too much trouble.  In the 1970s the company was sold to the Longman-Pearson group who looked for ways to modernise the appearance of the books.  From the 1970s onwards they started to reprint the earlier history books with different covers – a white cover with a picture in a blue frame.  Inside, the books stayed unchanged.  (Later they went on to produce completely different editions of some of the older titles – different text and illustrations.  However, Joan of Arc was not one of these.

This copy:

Matt boards with the later ‘blue frame’ style.  Inside the covers this is the original 1972 book. Very good condition inside and out.  This copy dates to the late-1970s.

 

Read more

Queen Elizabeth, 1958, Series 561 (DJ)

The Story of the First Queen Elizabeth was the 5th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  Early editions were issued with a dustwrapper.  In this colourful telling of the life of Elizabeth, writer L du Garde Peach gives a very positive portrait or his subject and talks about other figures of the day, including Drake, Raleigh, Spenser, Shakespeare and Mary Queen of Scots.

This copy:

This copy still has its original dustwrapper which is not price-clipped.  It is in very good condition inside and out but for a couple of nicks to the back dj panel and the odd mark to the pages.  There’s a neat owner’s name on the front endpapers.    It dates from the early 1960s.

Read more

Captain Scott, 1963, Series 561 (DJ)

Captain Scott is the 16th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  This title was first published with a dustwrapper.  In this colourful telling of the ill-fated voyage, writer L du Garde Peach gives a very vivid account of the trials and suffering of the party.   Every time I read it, I find myself hoping that this time it might end differently.

This copy:

This book still has its original dustwrapper (price-clipped).  It’s in very good condition inside and out.  There’s very little wear to the DJ but a 2 inch closed tear near spine on back panel. Inside the pages are in great condition – a very small neat name to title page.   I believe it to be a first edition and is the last title listed on the DJ back flap.

Read more
Close
error: