The Herbs and The Adventures of Parsley
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The Herbs Working Model Book [below]
I was lucky enough to handle a completely intact copy of this a while back.
It was published in 1969 by World Distributors (Manchester) Limited. And what you got for your 2 shillings and 6 pence was a big 12" x 10.5" softcover book of about 20 pages. Illustrated in both colour and black & white,and full of lots of tempting dotted lines and interactive "fold here" instructions and .... well,why not take a look at a sample page Here
The cut-out characters are particularly striking and "of the period".
Although,if you didn't know it was actually 1969,I'd probably have said early-to-mid 70's as they remind me a lot of the sort of images from a series like Crystal Tipps & Alistair (Constable Knapweed in particular) But see what you think Here
Either way,the whole thing oozes quality,and there's clearly been some serious thought and imagination put into it,which is always great to see.
And it'll come as no surprise that completely intact examples are very hard to find these days.
Sage " TV Slotty "
Q. What's a " TV Slotty" when it's at home ?
A. Well,it's this little "Michael Stanfield Product",published by Purnell in 1968.
And it's actually 2 products in one.With the main part being a story called "Sage the Owl Looks for a New Home" - illustrated with colour photos,and notable for 2 things:-
1) the stills were specially staged using the original models and sets,and...
2) the story was actually written specially by Michael Bond himself -which keen Herbal bookworms will know wasn't always the case with regard to the merchandising.
But the main selling point was the "slotty" bit.
With the 2 middle pages consisting of pop-out pieces of card that you "slotted" together to form a model of Sage.
And they were completely independant of the text,so you were still left with a complete story book when they were removed.
Any initial surprise at the choice of Sage over,say,Parsley is lessened somewhat when you consider the greater design potential he offered.
And it's even harder to argue against when you see the fab psychadelic artwork they actually delivered !
And here he is assembled -minus the eyelashes. Pic courtesy of Dawn Foster-Denham.
Parsley and the Herbs ,left
This one formed part of the long-running educational "Take Part" series of books,designed to encourage reading and interaction in young kids.
And this extract explains the concept in more detail here
It's the only Herbs one in the series.
First published by Penguin in 1971 and,remarkably,still being printed by Ward Locke Educational as late as 2014 that I know of,and maybe even later [?]
The 3 stories featured are
"Parsley's Tail" ... "Parsley's Good Deed" and "Parsley's Problem Present".
All adapted into a read-aloud script format so that kids can play individual roles.
56 or so pages,interspersed with black & white illustrations by Ivor Wood.
And despite the cover hinting otherwise,there's no colour inside whatsoever.
Presumably just to keep the cost down,as it's targetted more at schools and groups than a mainstream retail market.
A representative photo of interior - here
BBC Bumper Colouring and Fun Book
We end this page with a very large softcover one-off.
In fact it's a whopping 16" x 12".And the stuff of nightmares for retailers trying to display it I'd imagine.
Published by PBS Ltd in 1971 - a company I confess I've never heard of.
And featuring notable BBC kids series of the time
The Herbs ..... Basil Brush ..... Hectors House ..... Blue Peter ..... Crackerjack ..... and Play School.
Pics courtesy of Tony Clark
Big carrots for ....
.... a BIG rabbit !
The Herbs Press-Out Book (below)
I only have the cover pic for this one so far.
Same publishers as the "Working Model Book" and probably the same date too.
And they also did a "Herbs Sticker Fun Book" and "Herbs Colouring Book" [awaiting details]
Parsley Colouring Book and Parsley Join the Dots Book (below)
These next 2 are titled "Parsley" rather than "The Herbs" because they were both published to cash-in on the sequel in 1970.
And,unlike all the ones above,they're one dimensional in every respect.
Because once you get past the front covers,there isn't an ounce of colour (or anything else) to inspire the reader.
Just page-after-page of the type of b&w drawings below. Which,ironically,often seem far too complicated for most pre-schoolers to even colour-in successfully.So would just give rise to frustration.
But,having looked through a lot of Dean & Sons general output,I'm left with the distinct impression that they had a sort of mechanical box-ticking approach to kids' publishing that,at best,was rather uninspired and,at worst,just plain lazy.
Which is a pity,because publisher's almost have a moral obligation to at least try and put a shift in when targetting young children.And any budgetry constraints can usually be got round if the people concerned have a modicum of flair and imagination. Continued ....
By their very nature,activity books should be a collaborative effort between the reader and publisher.
But,in this particular case,a few black & white sketches knocked-up one lunchtime seems like a very uneven distribution of labour.And you've just got to hope they were as cheap to buy as they clearly were to produce.
There's no denying that they're both rare,because these are the only two copies I've ever seen.
And whilst part of me hopes that's because parents kept their hands in their pockets,it probably has more to do with the high attrition rates of these sorts of interactive items.
But,irrespective of how many were sold,does 30 minutes of aimless scrawling followed by a lifetime in landfill really represent a successful children's product - ?
Colouring Book photos courtesy of Tony Clark.
There were 5 other "slotty's" in this particular series.
And,of the other 4,three were devoted to characters from the "Magic Roundabout" -Dougal,Dylan,Zebedee and Brian -and one to Hector from "Hector's House".Complete set shown here
Michael Stanfield also produced a larger range of similar "pop-out" booklets -at around the same time,and for the same sorts of kids' tv series too.And they're a lot easier to find than these strangely elusive "slotty" versions -intact or otherwise.
Pics courtesy of Tony Clark.