Tuesday’s haven’t quite been the same for a few months now. The Ladybird collecting hasn’t slowed down here, but there’s just not been much time to write about them and share them here. I’ve really missed Ladybird Tuesday though. I’ve missed going through my collection and selecting gems to share. There’s something rather comforting about Ladybird books – a reminder of a previous time when the world didn’t seem quite such the confusing and screwed up place it is right now.
Last week’s news of Ladybird planning more humorous titles later this year (just in time for Christmas) made me think that it may well be time to bring Ladybird Tuesday back. And where better to start than the title that undoubtedly started off this whole flurry of new titles.
We go to the gallery was written by Miriam Elia and had its initial print run of just 1000 copies funded via Kickstarter. Basically a satirical art book it was based around the Peter and Jane reading books that will be familiar to many Ladybird fans. The art work inside it was either created wholly by Miriam or was a collage of existing Ladybird pictures and depicted the scenes as Peter and Jane go round an art gallery with their Mother. Also on the cover was a Ladybird logo.
It’s fair to say that Penguin (who now own Ladybird) weren’t exactly impressed with the book and told Elia that she was breaching their copyright and had just a month to sell enough copies to cover her costs and then she needed to stop and destroy all remaining copies. Miriam realised that there was demand for her book though and to completely ditch the idea would be a real waste, and hence the Dung Beetle reading scheme was born.
Peter and Jane became John and Susan, and Miriam also re-worked the artwork which took her to finding child models from Yorkshire (apparently London children didn’t look right) so that she could reproduce the way that Ladybird did the original Peter and Jane artwork by collaging photos and putting a watercolour wash over them.
Despite the changes though the book is still laugh out loud funny, especially when you realise that this was the first book that had really spoofed the Ladybird genre in this way. If you’ve ever walked around the Tate Modern or anywhere else similar and wondered what modern art really is then this is the book for you!
The next set of new adult Ladybird titles look pretty good (The Ladybird Books of Red Tape, The Meeting, The People Next Door, The Sickie, and The Zombie Apocalypse and also “How it Works” The Cat, The Dog, The Grandparent and The Student) but it’s worth remembering where this run of books started. Without We go to the gallery I doubt Ladybird would have the modern day success that they have – and many more of us would be struggling to find stocking fillers this Christmas.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Kids to feed, mortgage to pay, plus I want to buy a vintage VW camper van before the next Tea and Tents in 2018…