Been thinking a bit about the books I loved as a child. I still have quite a lot, although the majority have been lost to time, moving house and younger siblings. Many were the original Lucky or Arrow books purchased at school, which was a regular thing for us. A while back I got all nostalgic and started to collect them again, managing to purchase original editions through a great U.S website called alibris.com
I was always able to vividly recall the illustrations, so even if the original title remained elusive, a bit of googling soon brought up the images I remembered. Each time a batch arrived in the post it felt like I was reunited with long lost friends. My own kids now regard these as favourites.
Although I knew the stories by heart, it really was the pictures that entranced me. One treasured book was 'Twinky' by Betty Larom and I came by it in a different way. At about seven, every time I visited my relatives house, I sat in the bedroom and read this book over and over and over. It had been a birthday present to my Uncle as a child and my boy cousins were not the slightest bit interested in reading it. Finally, my Aunt told me I could take it home. I was in heaven and would pore over the pages for hours. Over the next decade it either got lost or thrown out, but I never forgot it.
Now that I have a copy again, those illustrations don't seem as bright to me or the story so endearing.
Of course I'm bringing different eyes to it now. Originally published in 1951, the author was the English comic book artist Betty Larom (1920 - 1972), married to another author/illustrator Neville Main. He drew characters for early children's television in Britain. No amount of online searching has uncovered much about either of them, other than they produced quite a long list of children's books respectively.
There is something soft and sweet about her illustrations — almost certainly airbrushed with lithographic reproduction. It is a gentle, magical story about a tiny winged pony falling to earth.
For a visually oriented child the art of picture books can exert an incredible influence, creating internal worlds that last a lifetime. An astounding amount of websites now cater for adults searching for never forgotten childhood favourites. Collecting vintage copies is an actual thing. Old children's books are often highly valuable and sought after. Like a line from a song or a distinctive smell, somehow, well-loved books act like time capsules transporting us rapidly backwards. Even now I look at this page and can recall just how much I desperately wanted my very own gypsy wagon.