Deceptively Simple Vintage Children's Books

Sometimes simple things are the best. Like scrambled eggs and butter toast,
a tomato sandwich or a cup of soup, simply designed illustrations can be just what is needed. But simple is a misnomer here. While the illustrations below may look simple, a lot of time, planning and expertise went into the final product.

image via Etsy seller Thebeezkneezvintage

Henri's Walk to Paris by Saul Bass

From Sparkle And Spin by Paul Rand
image via brain pickings

I Can Count by Dick Bruna
image via Kids Book Review

From Monsieur Bussy, The Celebrated Hamster, 
Illustrated by Annick Delhumeau

From I Want to Be a Coal Miner

Little Oleg by Margaret and John Court
image via Draw! Pilgrim

A Cat Can't Count by Blossom Budney, illustrated by William Wondriska

space alphabet by Irene Zacks, pictures by Peter P. Plasencia


  1. So true Jil, simple is sometimes the best option. Making something look simple is often the difficult part. Love the blog.

  2. Thanks Craig, I always appreciate your comments.

  3. I agree with you! A cover illustration must be...incisive! I love these vintage covers!

  4. Both Saul Bass and Paul Rand were major influences on 1950s and -60s style graphic design: Bass in particular revolutionized the concept of movie credits and film poster design with his work for Hitchcock. Both were huge influences on my own work as a graphic designer, and I sometimes wish we could return to this kind of ultra-expressive simplicity.

    One of my first bosses was an art director in San Francisco who was of the opinion that a successful design meant throwing everything out not necessary to the message — then taking out one more thing. "But how do you know what to remove?" I asked. "You just do," was the Yoda-like reply. :-)