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Exhibition opens the book on classic Ladybird Book art

Published on Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Covers of classic Ladybird Books

A MAJOR new exhibition will get underway at New Walk Museum this summer bringing to life the breathtaking work of artistry from classic children’s books.

The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists runs from July 13 to September 1, and will showcase hundreds of examples of stunning artwork by the illustrators behind the classic Ladybird Books for children.

The stunning collection belongs to Ladybird Book expert Helen Day, and enables visitors to explore the magical and vibrant world of Ladybird art from the 1950s to 1970s.

Ladybird Books covered themes including history, the world and nature, technology and fairy tales, as well as the famous early-reading series of Peter and Jane.  The evocative artwork will bring back childhood memories for many grown-up visitors, and bring wonderful stories to life for the first time for younger guests.

The hundreds of stunning original artworks by 14 artists include those of Leicestershire artist John Kenney, creator of Tootles the Taxi.

Younger visitors can create pictures of their own in an artist’s studio, or join in the storytelling at a special reading village where they can let their imaginations run wild in a land of wonder, learning and play.

Leicester deputy city mayor for culture, leisure and sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “Ladybird Books were a huge part of childhood for millions of children from the 1950s onwards, with stories ranging from classic fairytales to well-loved figures from history, technology or transport, and in each case accompanied by evocative artwork which brought these stories to life.

“This exhibition is a chance to revisit those wonderful illustrations and stories, or for younger visitors to be discover them for the first time.”

The exhibition is supported by a programme of events and activities suitable for children and grown-ups alike.

On the exhibition’s opening day, "How It Works...Ladybird Books for Grown Ups" takes place from 2pm at which authors Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris discuss their hugely-popular Ladybird books for grown-ups and share their passion for Ladybird and vintage commercial art.

The pair are both writers on the hit films Paddington and Paddington 2, as well as numerous TV comedy series. Tickets cost £5 from the museum shop or on 0116 225 4920.

Storytelling Saturdays take place on July 20, August 3 and 31 from 11am to 1pm, offering free activities, storytelling and paper crafts.

A Fairy-tale Fun Day will take place on Tuesday, July 23,  from 11am to 4pm, at which visitors can dress up to explore the wonderful world of fairy-tales with crafts and storytelling. The event is free.

Exhibition curator Helen Day will host “That Won’t Do!”: Keeping Ladybird books up to date in the 1970s, on Sunday, August 4 from 2pm. She will explore the often-amusing attempts to keep the books up to date over the decades.  She shows how changes to the illustrations provide a series of fascinating snapshots of evolving technology, ideas and attitudes over the later years of the 20th century. The event is free, but places should be booked on 0116 225 4900.

Ladybirds and Nature, on Tuesday, August 6, will encourage visitors who are inspired by the illustrations of the natural world in Ladybird Books to discover nature in the city, with crafts, storytelling and more. The free drop-in event runs from 11am to 4pm.

Finally, the stunning illustrations of history, seafaring and adventures from Ladybird Books will provide the inspiration for The Pirates of New Walk, in which nautical crafts, stories and activities linked to the high seas will take centre stage at the museum. It takes place on Tuesday, August 20, from 11am to 2pm, and is free for visitors to drop into.

Details of all Leicester City Council museum events are available at