A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Book Covers As Old Friends Sheena Wilkinson

It’s tatty; in fact the back cover is detached from the rest of it. I’ve replaced it with a lovely, mint-condition hardback. Well, not exactly replaced… When I had a recent clear-out, my paperback of A Vicarage Family survived the cull when many a book was moved on to the Oxfam Bookshop.


tatty old friend

Why? Because it was the copy I had as a child, the one I reread every year, the one whose pages absorbed my tears  when cousin John was killed in the war. Every time. It’s my copy in a way that the lovely new one will never be. Yes, the Shirley Hughes cover illustration has a charm the hardback lacks, but that was never the point.

I’m not a serious book collector – any aspirations for a complete set of first edition Chalet School hardbacks in dust wrappers were set aside the day I left my sensible job to be a fulltime writer; but I do have hundreds of old children’s books, many with beautiful covers, and sturdy and fresh despite their age, because they were built for endurance.



school stories, 1910s…

Still, I often find myself drawn to a dog-eared 1970s Malory Towers ‘Dragon’ paperback for exactly the same reason I couldn’t get rid of A Vicarage Family. Nostalgia. I have to restrain myself sometimes from buying up all the 1970s paperback pony books in charity shops. The covers are often dreadful, but they call to me like old friends.


… and 1970s

Much of my childhood reading was courtesy of the local library, so the books I owned were very special to me – though the specialness didn’t prevent my reading them in the bath and up trees, hence the sorry state they ended up in. I had hardly any hardbacks, and those I’ve collected as an adult are often ex-library copies, which have the merit of being identical to the editions I borrowed but could never have owned as a child. More old friends, but the posher kind.





some posh old friends 



I don’t think the seventies was a golden age of book design, and the books certainly weren’t built to last — especially not when you read them in the bath — but I’ll always have a soft spot for the book covers of my youth.




About sheenawriter68

I write books, drink tea, and sing.

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This entry was posted on August 21, 2017 by .


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