Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My favorite moments in childhood

Recalling my childhood days, I have decided that the happiest moments of childhood were when I was reading the Ladybird books for children in the Malleshwaram City Central Library on ? Margosa road or ?Sampige road in the 70s. This library had a large space in front of it (If I remember right, the library was facing the large space of it's own backyard and not the street in front.)
These ladybird books had the  loveliest illustrations and to this day they remain a great favorite of mine. The books I read included Snowwhite and Rosered, Rapunzel, Sleeping beauty, Cinderella, Dick Whittington & his cat, amongst several others. These stories are available in many many forms such as, as a story in an English text book in schools; in a book of  stories for children without illustrations and in  illustrated story books for children.
These stories have also been illustrated in a myriad different styles in different publications;    the Ladybird publication house itself,  has republished the same stories with new styles of illustrations over the years. However it is only this particular artwork  which could put me in a trance!

I discovered through googling,  that  Vera Southgate was the writer and Eric Winter was the illustrator of these lovely pictures. These books have one page of writing followed by one page of art work illustrating the story and these books mesmerized me as a child.  The illustrations were the best part of the books for me. As a child in 70s India, I , of course, did not know a thing about hard-bound books or soft bound books, or what a font or font size is or about the texture of pages of books. Yet,  I think I unconsciously  also appreciated the fact that the books were hardbound; the size and weight of these books were ideal for a child; the font, the size of the font, the textures of the pages( I  remember the texture, now, after more than 35 years!!) were just perfect.
I would literally go into a trance when I read these books. I read these books over and over again, staring for endless hours at the illustrations and daydreaming. I especially loved the ? water colour paintings of cottages (roof covered with thatch/hay) in the middle of the forest which is depicted in many of the stories such as Snowwhite and Rosered, I loved the paintings of the gardens (The witch's garden in Rapunzel) in some books. To me the art work depicted the picture of an ideal, perfect and beautiful world, somewhere out there in England, where I could not go but only dream off.  I simply cannot describe the rapture I felt, while gazing at these illustrations! At that young age, I actually believed that these stories truly happened and that the places and people and animals  did look like it did in the art-work! Those fairy tales seemed to be happening in some heavenly place and I was in Heaven when I read those books. The clothes of the princes and princesses, the palaces, the illustration of the weeping willow tree in one of these books, the forest in which Red Ridinghood walked are unforgettable. I wonder if the impact of the illustrations on me would have  been different if they were in oils instead of water colors. Who knows?
Later I saw several other books and the newer Ladybird book editions of the same stories but none of them were as attractive to me to read as the ones illustrated by Eric Winter. Now when I google, I do see, new illustrations done in various styles such as in Manga style, but they do not enrapture me. I wish the illustrations had never changed but then, who can prevent change? It is as unstoppable as the passage of time!

My heartfelt gratitude to Eric Winter, who I was sad to discover is dead.

Here are links to the  pictures of the book covers of those books.

Below is a link for all  pictures of one book

stories-fairy-tales-&-rhymes/rapunzel/page/1/view/12

http://www.ladybirdprints.com/category/6238/stories-fairy-tales-&-rhymes/rapunzel/page/2/view/12

http://www.ladybirdprints.com/category/6238/stories-fairy-tales-&-rhymes/rapunzel/page/3/view/12

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http://www.ladybirdprints.com/category.php?catid=5966

Above link gives a partial look at the covers of the books I enjoyed.  
Below are a few of the book covers illustrated by Eric Winter and written by Vera Southgate.







The first edition cover, 1968 ImageID:1805












The first edition cover, 1968 ImageID:1807

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