This blog is from Richard, deputy head of the library service.
My colleagues have recently started talking about some publishers (and book franchises) breaking away from their traditional offerings and supplementing these with a more grown-up content. Here I’m talking particularly about family favourites such as Enid Blyton and Ladybird; those of us who are in the 40+ category might see these new books on the shelf and look back with nostalgia at the adventures and fairy tales we grew up with – and we dutifully pick them up in response to a little tug on our heart-strings.
For example Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ have now become entangled with politics with Five on Brexit Island, they also experience an adventure in Five on A Strategy Away Day, and discover the benefits and challenges of going gluten free. There are also the Ladybird offerings, for example The Ladybird Book of Red Tape, and their popular How it Works series, which now includes: ‘The wife’, ‘The husband’, ‘The Dog’, etc. etc.
So, are they any good…? Well, each to their own and, if I am honest, they are not going to be at the top of my next holiday reading list (perhaps too short!), however, for a little bit of fun and as break from the norm they are great. And, with the growing number of titles, it’ll soon be easier to choose one for a friend than selecting a birthday card for them! It would be a very grumpy 40+ who wouldn’t smile if given (the right) one of these.
My own personal favourite franchise making a break from tradition has to be the Haynes workshop manuals. Here I do look back with nostalgia to the hot summers of my younger days – clambering over rusting heaps in a richly odorous scrap yard (diesel, petrol, oil, anti-freeze – scent really does have a strong memory) looking for that elusive replacement part for our aging Volkswagon, with my dad absolutely clear in his mind that, “We will find it!”, whereas to me the black and white photos never quite seemed to look like the actual ‘bit’ we needed.
But, 30-odd years on, whilst you might not be able to find the parts anywhere (let alone your local scrap yard), the Haynes workshop manuals for The Starship Enterprise and Thomas the Tank Engine are simply fantastic; they are a treat for grown-ups looking back and a great way to get young enquiring minds thinking about the technical / scientific side of what they already enjoy. The mainstay remains automotive with around half of their 1500 titles falling in this area, but a whole world of reference from politics to space travel is available – borrow one from your local library, learn something new and have some fun.