The Reading Room

The Ladybirds Book Series

BThe Ladybirds Book of Underwater Exploration….

Opposite is one of my most beloved childhood books; first published in 1967 by Wills and Hepworth Ltd, written by Richard Bowood with these wonderful illustrations by B. Knight it utterly captured my imagination as a young boy who dreamt of diving in faraway seas as far removed from 1970s England as it was possible to get.

I loved my childhood, I was incredibly fortunate to have parents who encouraged me to read and fuel my imagination and this book kept me occupied for hours upon hours. The Ladybird Achievements Books were a thing of invaluable beauty, they blended education with mesmerising illustrations to capture a young mind’s attention and make the learning experience fun and rewarding.

The series began during the First World War when the publishers registered the trademark in 1915. What followed was a series of books incorporating a huge range of topics from key historical figures such as Nelson, Cromwell and Raleigh to classic fairytales, swashbuckling pirates, British history and travel.

The colour plates were stunning and a key part of the publishers philosophy on educating children. The books were parts of differing series and certain artists were tasked with illustrating a specific field. Charles Tunnicliffe was a renowned contributor, best known for his nature illustrations over many years including the What to Look For series which taught children about the seasons through the calendar year.

This is the one book in the series which has survived my childhood and beyond and when I consider books which have had the greatest impact upon me over my lifetime then this has to be on the list. I often wonder if authors and artists of other genres ever truly appreciate the impact their work can and has had on others? I envy the author and illustrator of this particular book, to have one’s work appreciated decades later must be a wonderful thing indeed.

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