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!