Friday, 21 March 2008

Week of Vintage Children's Illustration
Day Five


Here is one of the best ever series of children's books - Topsy and Tim! For those of you who didn't grow up in the UK, Topsy & Tim were the books we all read as kids in the seventies, and they are totally wonderful.


There are over 100 books in this series, all featuring the twins Topsy and Tim. Unlike the children's books that had been published previously, Topsy and Twin were modern kids who we could all relate to - they lived in a suburban house, went to jumble sales and the dentist, had a trendy mum and got bored, excited, naughty, curious and cross.




The illustrations were very simple and engaging, and the stories were too. I love that these books are kind of like a primary-school soap opera, with lots of regular characters like Mum and Dad, Mrs Maypole, Miss Terry the teacher, various pets, next-door neighbours and local shop owners. Who wouldn't be keen to learn to read with books like these around?


Although the books were definitely centred on children, now that I read them as a grown-up I can see that there are lots of little things added in to make parents and teachers chuckle - see my earlier post for one very funny example.



The creators of Topsy and Tim were a married couple, Jean and Gareth Adamson. They had a young family of their own and I think this is evident in the way they have brilliantly captured the emotions of childhood. Gareth died some years ago but Jean still illustrates the modern version of Topsy & Tim. She lives in Cambridgeshire, where I lived too before we moved to Australia, and she holds Topsy and Tim days at local schools. Jean was recently given an MBE for services to children's literature, yay Jean! You can read more about Jean and Gareth here .


Topsy and Tim were given a makeover in the 1980s. The new-look twins are still great, but it is these older editions that I love so much. When I read them now, I am right back there as a six-year-old, rugged up in a polo-neck jumper, tartan pinafore and woolly tights, sitting on the floor in a drafty classroom on a cold, grey Northern English day. The sound of my teacher's voice is in the background, but I am lost in the world of Topsy and Tim!

10 comments:

just like mama said...

these pictures are gorgeous! I've never come across them before, but I'll definitely keep an eye out now :)
xx just like mama

Bec said...

I've never heard of these before - but they definitely appeal to me. Both the stories and the illustrations. And i loved going back and reading your post about 'Me time'....that scenario is forever going on around here...he he he...

Cass said...

I haven't heard of these either but I too will be looking out for them.

megsie said...

They are just lovley. I love how you have shared them in such a personal way. Books are wonderful for taking us back in time and experiencing childhood again:)

Lily and Agathe said...

There they are..... I would like to see your vintage T&T puzzle.. thanks for the Santa Pau tip, I shall go next week and tell you all about it xx

AnastasiaC said...

ive never seen these before - they are great illustrations!!

Rochelle said...

there you go -- another married couple writing and illustrating children's books. It must have been the thing back in the day
I was commenting on my blog how common it was - as the two vintage books i featured were both written by couples (or as pip suggested, maybe they were brother / sister!)
i think it's quite a cute concept!

Sal said...

Excellent! My children had Topsy and Tim books and I enjoyed them too. ;-)
Lovely pics and a great journey back to the past.Thanks.Sal

Net said...

I loved Topsy and Tim as a kid! The pic of the back cover especially took me back. I really remember those purple jumpers they wore!

Top bird said...

Aw, thanks for posting about my beloved Topsy and Tim! We lived in England for a year when I was three, and I remember reading "Topsy & Tim Cross the Channel" with my mum - right before our holiday across the channel! So many happy memories with those books. It's amazing how certain illustrations still resonate today.