I grew up on Little Golden Books, with their golden spines and colourful, board covers. In fact, I still have my favourite, albeit in a rather well used state: The Little Red Caboose, by Marianne Potter. And it is the hours of enjoyment I had turning the pages of these books that lead me to buy Little Golden Book, for children, even now, each time birthdays come round.
Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow, is a gift book for everyone who, like me, remembers Little Golden Books being an integral part of their childhood. This book is a collection of 61 illustrations from Little Golden Book titles published between 1942 and 1964, each with a caption that offers wisdom for a happy life. For instance, an illustration from Tibor Gergely’s Animal Gym is accompanied by the advice “get some exercise every day”, and a Richard Scarry illustration from Nancy Nolte’s The Gingerbread Man suggests, “choose your companions wisely”.
Given the timeframe of the original titles, this is a beautifully quaint book, and it captures a sense of old time values, despite a vast collection of artistic styles. The text contained within the pages doesn’t always reflect the original story’s themes or ideas, but is aptly matched to the image it accompanies and adds to the charming period feel.
When Little Golden Books were first published post World War 2 in 1942, they redefined the world of children’s books. Prior to this they were very expensive, but Little Golden Books meant children’s books were finally affordable (at 25c each) and all children might be able to enjoy them. To me, this lovely gift book felt like a respectful nod to the initiative all those years ago, and a reminder of the powerful, positive impact that children’s books can have on young readers – even many, many years later.