My dear friend Judy B is clearing out her house before she and her husband move to the country, and she offered me 'a box of old children's books you might like.'
Well, the box arrived, and I do like, very much indeed! The top layer included some gorgeous old books, including school stories, some Lorna Hill titles (I have to pass these on to Judy's daughter, once I read them), the first Billabong novel from Mary Grant Bruce and LM Montgomery's Emily of New Moon, which bizarrely I've never read, despite my enduring adoration of Anne of Green Gables.
Most of these were originally given as Sunday school prizes to the young Judy, and I'm reminded that there used to be a whole category of children's books specifically written for this purpose. My mother tells me that there used to be a special shop in the city that sold books for Sunday school prizes (as well as other ecclesiastical supplies, one presumes).
But underneath these Sunday school novels was another, unexpected layer of delights -- half a dozen annuals. See how gorgeous they look on my display shelf? Here is a close up view:
The annuals are from the 1950s and they are chock full of fabulous stories, comics, nature articles, poetry and crosswords. Aren't the cover girls great -- sporty and wholesome, and not a fashion item in sight! I wonder when annuals disappeared? I remember getting an annual one Christmas in the late 70s -- it might have been Jackie, or Princess? So they were still around then. Does anybody out there know?
One thing I noticed is that the print is extremely small. Which means you can fit in more glorious content, I suppose, but it also decreases the chances of modern kids actually reading any of these lovely old books. Shame.
Thank you, Judy. They are wonderful.