Book Spine Design - You're So Fine

Our first view (and first impression) of a book can be it's spine. Sitting on a bookshelf with much competition and little real estate, first impressions need to be good, especially if you're a newcomer. These books fill all those requirements, beautifully.

Penguin Classics
Jonathan Boarini

If you can make economic books look like these, then I think you have a pretty creative mind and bright future.




Luv the groovy typography on these books from Slovenia



P-E Fronning

The World of Animals, a Swedish Encyclopedia from 1963/64

Digital Collections at the University of Maryland



The Snow Fox, Arnold Dobrin

Just like the holidays, winter is on it's way. Today's vintage children's book tells the wintery tale of The Snow Fox. I like the limited color scheme and the soft sketchy illustrations in this book.

The Snow Fox
A Tale of Canada
Story and Pictures by Arnold Dobrin
Coward-McCann Inc., 1968


The Mitten, Yaroslava

Today's vintage children's book is The Mitten, illustrated by Yaroslava. Born Aka Yaroslava Surmach, she often was credited as Yaroslava in her books. Besides being an illustrator, Yaroslava was an art director/editor for the children's magazine Humpty Dumpty. She created stained glass windows for the St. Demetrius Ukranian Catholic church in Toronto, and the glass entrance doors to the New York Senate Building. Yaroslava's reverse glass paintings were made into greeting cards. To read more about Yaroslava, click here.

The Mitten
By Alvin Tresselt
Illustrated by Yaroslava
Scholastic Books, 1964


Seven Little Rabbits, Barbara Cooney

Today's vintage children's book is Seven Little Rabbits illustrated by the outstanding Barbara Cooney. Cooney (1917-2000) had a prolific career, illustrating over 200 books. She won two Caldecott Medals, the first for Chanticleer and the Fox, the second for Ox-Cart Man. In 1975 Cooney was awarded the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for her outstanding contributions to children's literature.

Seven Little Rabbits
By John Becker
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Scholastic Inc., 1973

To read a previous post about another book illustrated by Barbara Cooney, Miss Rumphius, click here. To read more about Barbara Cooney, click here or here.


The Owl and the Woodpecker, Brian Wildsmith

Today's vintage children's picture book, The Owl and the Woodpecker , is a repost from September 2010. Brian Wildsmith's illustrations in this fabulous book are a feast for the eyes. His depictions of wildlife and nature are a riot of textures, layers, patterns and jazzy color.

The story is about a woodpecker and an owl who are at odds with each other because of different sleeping schedules and noise issues. They eventually come up with a solution to solve their problem. 

The Owl and the Woodpecker
Illustrated by Brian Wildsmith 
Franklin Watts, 1972

Wildsmith's first children's book, ABC, published in 1962, won the Kate Greenaway Medal, Britain's equivalent of the Caldecott Medal. He was also a runner up for the same medal for The Owl and the Woodpecker. In 1994 the Brian Wildsmith Museum of Art was established in Izukogen, Japan (near Tokyo) where 800 of his paintings are on loan to the museum. This museum was designed to look (as much as possible) like Wildsmith's house in Southern France. If I ever get to Japan...

Wildsmith states on his website: “I believe that beautiful picture books are vitally important in subconsciously forming a child’s visual appreciation, which will bear fruit in later life.” I couldn't agree more.

Wish I had time today to add more scans of the book, but I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year and have tons to do. I'll put it on my list of things to do and let you know when they are up.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The River Queen, Peter Burchard

Today's vintage children's book is The River Queen, with stellar illustrations by Peter Burchard. This is one of those books where the artist has done so much with a limited color scheme. In this case I think it has made the book very striking. Not a lot of information about Peter Burchard that I can find, but here is one link at Wikipedia.

I like this illustration, feels like someone Burchard knew personally. Also like the tattoo - might steal this idea on a smaller scale. My four children (who are not children, range in age from 17-29) and I are going to get a tattoo to commemorate my father who passed away at the end of the summer. He served our country in the Navy very proudly. If you knew my dad, you knew he was in the Navy. It was an experience he carried with him and talked about all his life. 

Gorgeous work!

The River Queen
Written and Illustrated by Peter Burchard
The MacMillan Co., New York, 1957 


Johnny Appleseed, Aliki

Today's vintage children's book is The Story of Johnny Appleseed. I like Aliki's warm illustrations, sense of design and use of color. If you would like to read about Aliki, click here.

The Story of Johnny Appleseed
Written and Illustrated by Aliki
The Trumpet Club, 1989