I ventured to a much changed King's Cross to see this celebration of 100 years of the iconic Ladybird book series at the House of Illustration.
I loved Ladybird books as a child (and still do), and remember them extending my vocabulary and knowledge after having read the equally as important (in my opinion) Happy Venture, and Wide Range Reader series of books.
The design of Ladybird books though - one page of text against one full page of illustration is a design classic.
I used to spend hours pouring over the illustrations and looking at the lists of other books in each series on the back of the books to see if I could get to read those as well.
I think Ladybird books were instrumental in sparking my interest in books and illustration, and were perhaps key to my going on to study graphic design and illustration, and a career as an illustrator. In this more enlightened age Ladybird books have attracted some criticism for racial and gender stereotyping, but they are/were a product of their time and did not set out to malign race and gender out of spite. Their main purpose was to educate, and they more than succeeded in this aim.
The exhibition was a wonderful excercise in nostalgia for me as it brought a smile to my face and evoked many happy childhood memories. It was also a fantastic opportunity to see the actual artwork for Ladybird classics such as - Shopping With Mother and Tootles the Taxi.
The exhibition features the work of illustrators I liked at the time whose illustrations did so much to bring the text of the books to life such as Eric Winter and Robert Lumley who provided artwork for Ladybird's Well-Loved Tales' series which included Puss in Boots and Cinderella, as well as John Berry who produced great illustrations for the educational People At Work series. This is a good exhibition, a really good celebration of the art of illustration, and an important British publisher. Many happy returns Ladybird!
Ladybird books from my collection
Ladybird by Design
until 27th September
House of Illustration
2 Granary Square