Changing “Famous Five” Book Covers

Here’s an interesting post on the Telegraph website, about the changing cover designs of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books in the UK.

I’m not so familiar with these books, but I imagine them comparable to the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books in North America, which have also undergone extensive rewrites, redesigns and upgradings over the years.

It’s always interesting to see what adults think will appeal to ‘modern’ children…

(This link thanks to bundleofbooks on Twitter…)


The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster

Jules Feiffer, illustrations

Alfred A. Knopf, 1961

256 pp.

Age: 10+

Interests: word play, puns, adventure, nonsense, fantasy, science, math, modern fairy tales, philosophy

Also by this author: The Dot and the Line, The Hello, Goodbye Window, Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie, Otter Nonsense

Also by this author & illustrator: The Odious Ogre




Jack Prelutsky, poems

Peter Sis, illustrator

HarperCollins, 2002

40 pp.

Age: 5 +

Interests: poetry, animals, birds, word play, nonsense, maps, travel

Next: Edward Lear’s The Quangle Wangle’s Hat and others

Also by this poet/illustrator team: The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, Monday’s Troll, The Gargoyle on the Roof

Also by this poet: The New Kid on the Block and many others


More on Gadgetry…

Further to my last post about the iPhone, here’s an interesting article from Commonsense Media: “My Kids’ First iPad”. It’s written from the point of view of parents who are “early adopters” of media, and you can follow links to lots of app recommendations, etc.

I do see one good comment below the article though, about the speed with which content is presented, which concerns me as well. The commenter advises computers be used alongside traditional reading material, which encourages kids to slow down and develop longer attention spans.

In general, is a great resource for all tech subjects in relation to raising kids – if you have teenagers for example, and are concerned about social media and privacy, or cyberbullying, or appropriate content controls, they are always posting advice and information on those topics.

Farewell Britannica – End of Empire

In an inevitable yet still somewhat shocking move, Encyclopedia Britannica has announced that they will no longer be issuing their encyclopedia in book form.

I don’t have any fond memories of leafing through the actual Britannica as a child – our shelves were inhabited by the more prosaic World Book Encyclopedia…


The Red Book

The Red Book

by Barbara Lehman

Houghton Mifflin, 2004

32 pp.

Age: 4 +

Interests: wordless books, mystery, travel, books

Also by this author: Museum Trip, Rainstorm, Trainstop, The Secret Box

To Read Next: Flotsam, other puzzling books


500 “New” Fairy Tales?!

Is this even possible? Yes it is! According to this article from The Guardian by Victoria Sussens-Messerer, a Bavarian historian named Franz Xaver von Schönwerth was recording and collecting fairy tales around the same time as the Brothers Grimm. However while their collection enjoyed huge success across Europe, Schönwerth’s 3-volume work sank into obscurity.

This could be due to the fact that Schönwerth actually did what the Grimms claimed to do: he recorded the stories faithfully and didn’t put his own spin on the morals, didn’t tinker with them or ‘polish’ up the language. (As opposed to the Brothers Grimm. More here.) At the time Schönwerth’s works were not bestsellers, but now that they’ve been rediscovered, their authenticity is what gives them such appeal and value.

Among versions of tales which also appeared in Grimms, cultural curator Erika Eichenseer discovered 500 unknown fairy tales. She published them last year in German and is now having them translated into English. The Guardian has one of them on their site: The Turnip Princess.


related post: Fairy Tale Controversy, Part 3 (including info on the Grimms’ tinkering with their tales)

The Highwayman


The Highwayman

Alfred Noyes, text

Charles Keeping, illustrations

Oxford, 1981

32 pp.

Age: 10 +

(Reading Level: 9 +)

Interests: poetry, romance, history, horror, ghost story

Also by this illustrator: Charley, Charlotte and the Golden Canary, The God Beneath the Sea, Beowulf, The Lady of Shalott, Through the Window, Charles Keeping’s Classic Tales of the Macabre


Horses in Battle


Horses in Battle

by Victor Ambrus

Oxford, 1975

39 pp.

Age: 10+

Interests: nonfiction, history, horses, war, knights

Also by this author: The Three Poor Tailors, Mishka, Drawing Animals, Drawing on Archaeology


Oscar-Winning Animated Short

Here’s a link to watch the animated short film which won the Oscar this year – The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. A wordless hymn to the romance of books, with a distinct nod to Buster Keaton.

Previous Older Entries

All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.