My copy of this may not be in the best condition (apologies for the strange stain on the front!) but it is a truly fascinating book and one which I believe really has an important place in Ladybird history.
Book 12c is the final book in the Ladybird Key Words reading scheme – the last step in teaching children to read after starting with the very simple "Peter and Jane. Jane and Peter." The Key Words scheme is probably one of the things that Ladybird books are best remembered for and I certainly remember learning to read with them. What I don't remember at all though is this book. Maybe I'd just moved on by then to something different?
The open door to reading, aimed to help children move on from Peter and Jane and to help them to start to explore the magic world of cooks, including some children's classics. In the words of the books itself:
"This is the last book in the Ladybird Key Words Reading Scheme. Now that you have reached it you will find that you can read most – perhaps all – of the books in your school library. You may have discovered this already, and also that there are a great many books in your town library and local bookshops that you can read with enjoyment and interest."
The book is them made up of extracts from books and poems by "well known" authors. Some really are well known classics, others less so – or maybe they just show up gaps in my education! The books included, with either exact extracts or adaptations from them, are:
- The Little Bookroom – Eleanor Farjeon
- The Lovebirds from The Little Bookroom
- Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
- Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
- Nicholas Nye – Walter de la Mare
- The Story of Thumbelina – Hans Christian Anderson
- The Pied Piper of Hamelin – Robert Browing
- How the Whale got his Throat, from the Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling
- From a Railway Carriage – Robert Louis Stevenson
- Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
- Nordy Bank – Sheena Porter
- The Boy's Song – James Hogg
The extracts chosen for this book were selected by W. Murray and all the traditional Ladybird style illustrations were done by J. H. Wingfield, F. Hampson and R. Embleton, who between them had illustrated most of the Key Word series.
In a way it seems a bit strange having one of the Key Word books where the only mention of Peter and Jane comes in the form of their picture on the cover, but I also see it as an important book in helping children make that transition to "proper" books – one which I think I only really made as a child when sent a reading list before starting secondary school. I then spent all that summer holiday working my way through the list and completely losing myself in so many amazing books. I just wish there was a way of getting hold of the same list again so I could start looking out for them all in charity shops prior to my kids reaching that stage in their reading journey.
If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you're feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday category here on Being Mrs C. Thanks!