I think it’s fair to say that I was more than a little bit excited with a recent eBay auction win that I had – vintage Topsy and Tim books!
The thing that possibly excited me the most though was the fact that I now am the proud owner of two different vintage versions of Topsy and Tim Learn to Swim. Whilst this might not sound like much to get excited about my Topsy and Tim collecting to date has shown me that there are often changes between different versions of the books and I’m always fascinated to see what they are and to try to work out why the changes have been made.
I’ve blogged before about two different versions of the book where Topsy and Tim visit the zoo, but as one of those was a much more modern version with different illustrations I was kind of expecting a difference. With Topsy and Tim Learn to Swim the same illustrations are used and not that long has passed between versions (1973 and 1981) so I was a bit surprised to see how many changes there are. I wonder if it was partly due to the original larger format books having more pages (28) than the smaller format ones (22) and I guess that could be the main driver as it does seem to be pages omitted rather than the story being changed.
The most obvious difference is the art work on the front cover. The 1973 version of Topsy and Tim Learn to Swim features a picture of Topsy and Tim swimming together that doesn’t actually feature in the book itself, yet the smaller 1981 version has them walking through some water whilst holding hands. This picture isn’t to be found in that book, but is there in the previous version as it’s where they are walking through the foot-bath on their way to the big pool.
The other bit that is omitted is them getting ready to get in the pool: buying tickets, collecting wire baskets (which has brought back memories of similar things from going swimming in my childhood), getting changed and going to the foot-bath.
One other double page spread that doesn’t appear in the later version is when Topsy and Tim race each other to get into the pool and Mr Pollack, the pool attendant, is introduced. I thought it a bit strange that he suddenly appeared in the smaller version as if we should already know who he is – now I understand why!
Finally a slight difference is made when it comes to Topsy and Tim taking part in a swimming race. The 1973 version has Tim deciding to take his armbands off before the start of the beginners race, but the later version ignores this bit of the story and instead the previous page just finishes with the extra sentence “Last of all there was the beginners’ race.”
I’m still convinced that page count is the main reason for these differences to be there as the only other thing I can think of is the change from the wire basket clothes storage whilst people were in to the pool to more modern day lockers, but this wouldn’t be a reason to change the other parts of the book. I need to go and spend some time on google to see if I can find any other views on this, but I probably ought to prioritise a few other things on my to do list a bit higher than that.
I’m starting to feel like a bit of a children’s book detective now. I’m off to search eBay for more versions of Topsy and Tim books to compare!