My latest book review is on Ladybird by Design by Lawrence Zeegen. The author of the book, Lawrence Zeegen is Dean of the School Design and Professor of Illustration at Ravensbourne University so he is more than qualified to fully understand why the design of Ladybird has contributed to its success. I love vintage Ladybird books and have a small collection of the vintage books myself. When my partner gave me this book as a gift, I was excited to get reading. Ladybird by Design is about the history of Ladybird through the design of the books whilst exploring the different series, artists and authors.
The book is laid out in four main chapters the first gives a history of the Ladybird company starting out as printers Wills and Hepworth in Loughborough who were printing children’s copies as a side job from printing brochures as well as paper shortages brought on by the outbreak of the second world war meant that the size of the books were reduced. With space extremely tight the front and the back cover were utilised with diagrams, images and information about other books available in the series. The second chapter it goes into detail about the artists such as Robert Lumley, Eric Winter and Charles Tunnicliffe as well as the history about the individual series such as the famous Key Words series.
The third chapter steps away from the artwork and explores the other fundamentals of the Ladybird books including typography, foreign editions, logos, language and typeface all important in the creation of the Ladybird book.
The final chapter focuses on Ladybird moving forward into the modern world, it goes into detail about Ladybird being sold to Pearson, the TV tie-ins which have provided to be a positive for Ladybird with Peppa Pig bringing in millions and moving into different formats such as tapes and apps and baby books.
The book gives such a comprehensive view in the history of Ladybird but also the individual artists involved in the iconic covers. It also provides a critical view as well one example is how the books were not diverse and provided a very cliched view of life in modern life in the UK. Whether you are a massive fan of the books or just like the illustrations it really is worth a read.
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