Magic of Ladybird books comes alive at exhibition

Ladybird collector and researcher Helen Day peruses one of her books

The humble Ladybird book is not so humble. That’s the theme of a new special exhibition which starts today at the Beaney museum in Canterbury.

It features the collection of Helen Day, who has spent much of her life researching the history of the book series which did so much to inform young minds about the world around them.

The exhibition focuses on the books’ heyday between 1940 and 1975 and is on display in the special exhibition room on the Beaney’s first floor.

Describing it as “an unparalleled collection of books, original artwork and artefacts”, the Beaney will be staging the exhibit throughout the summer.

Ladybird book enthusiast Helen Day is helping to curate the exhibition. She has been researching and collecting original Ladybird books and artwork for more than 20 years.

Helen Day and a wall of Ladybird books at the Beaney

Helen, 53, said: “I’ll be showing lots of original artwork – much from Ladybird books but it is also a look at the other work that these artists produced.

“There will, of course, be masses of books, many which you can browse through, and ephemera and some of the hundreds of quirky bits of information that I’ve picked up over the years.

“It’s the artwork which really makes them.

“I started going to car boot sales and the collection started to grow.

“Ladybird books were a phenomenon, something that were so much a part of people’s lives and really shaped our ideas of how things were.”

The Canterbury Journal got a sneak preview of the exhibition and can recommend it to both those who grew up with Ladybird books or youngsters who might be getting their first introduction to them.

Called the Story of the Ladybird artists 1940-75, the exhibition runs until Sunday, September 23.

The Beaney is also offering the following activities:

  • Ladybird Family Activities: Enjoy our selection of creative family friendly activities inspired by the Ladybird exhibition and the artists that created the well-loved illustrations.
  • Make-Your-Own Ladybird Book: Create your own decorative Ladybird inspired book to take home with you. We supply the materials you bring the imagination. (£2.50 per person)
  • Ladybird Gallery Trail: Pick up a quiz sheet and explore some of the themes of the wonderful world of Ladybird Books through our collections. See how many answers you can discover and hand in your completed answer sheet to win a sweet treat surprise. (£1 per person)
  • Make-And-Do Finger Puppet: Inspired by the original Ladybird Books ‘Make-And-Do’ activities, we provide you with all the materials you need to create your own Finger Puppet! (£1 per person)


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