The Ladybird Book of Toys and Games
This book has tremendous significance for me. We had returned to England in the summer of 1965 on the P&O liner Oriana. There had been a mix-up with our house in Pinner and we had no place to stay. Robert and Joan met us at the Southampton docks. From there we drove with them to Brockley Elm Farm and spent several idyllic weeks palling around the farm and south of England countryside. Reflecting on this now, I see how generous Robert was to his younger brother and family. Robert was fifty at the time, and took on two adults plus Barbara, me, and Meredith, who were 12, 9 and 4 respectively. Despite the large age gap, Robert was very attentive to our needs and
took very good care of us. But Robert also had work to do, and that was illustrating Toys and Games. Rather than lock himself away in his studio to work, Robert made a game of his work. Robert took photographs of the three of us posing with toys. Then he took us into his dark room and showed us how to develop negatives and print photographs. Hereâ€™s one of the pictures of Meredith, taken by Robert and used in the book:
The result can be seen in the pages of the book.
Hereâ€™s one of Robertâ€™s pictures of me and the picture it was used in: You will see that Robert
painted in a California fashion of the year: the surfer inspired broad striped t-shirt.
Unfortunately for Barbara, her image did not make it into the book. For years we thought her image had not been used in Robert’s Ladybird artwork – until we came across her picture playing the recorder in the Ladybird Book ‘Musical Instruments’.
In addition she eventually had her moment of recognition a few years later as her scripts were used for the childrenâ€™s television series Ramshackle Road, for which Robert illustrated the title backgrounds.
The story behind the artwork