It’s Nice That, the art and design site, directed our attention to this assortment of vintage Ladybird Books, a British children’s imprint known in its heyday for pocket-size hardbacks on an exhaustive array of topics. Your average Ladybird is accessible, vividly and impeccably illustrated, and almost heartbreakingly earnest. See, for example, 1951’s The Discontented Pony, which traffics in a kind of postwar ennui and Weltzschmerz unknown to the youth of today.
This pony story tells of a very discontented pony named Merrylegs. Even though having everything a little pony needs—a field to run about in, a kindly farmer owner, and farmyard friends Daisy and Squeaker—Merrylegs still begins to feel discontented with his lot in life.
We know the feeling, Merrylegs. We know the feeling.
Ladybirds, also the subject of a recent BBC documentary, tend to bring out the collector’s impulse—they’re legion, they’re handsomely made, and they speak to the tastes of a bygone era, so of course you’ll want to own them all. It’s worth perusing the whole Ladybird corpus, actually. Some gems, in no particular order:
- Man and His Car
- Strawberries and Cream – The Adventures of Wonk
- Learning About Heraldry
- People at Work – In a Big Store
- What to Look for Inside a Church
- The Public Services – Gas
- The Story of Clowns
- The Garden Gang – Sheila Shallot and Benny Broad Bean
- In the Train with Uncle Mac