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Vintage children’s books as time capsules

One of my favourite things to buy secondhand are children’s books. We are voracious readers and buying used saves our family a ton of money over buying new. But the thing I like best thing about buying old books is that sometimes I have had the good fortune to stumble upon a real gem.

I found this book at a local thrift shop when my kids were small.

If I had stopped at the cover I would have given it a pass. It’s called “My Clock Book” and the cover illustration is an uninspired 1970’s-style sketch of children gathered around a pile of clocks.

Something on the cover caught my eye:  “Originally entititled WHAT TIME IS IT?” Hmm. Okay.

I pulled it off the shelf and flipped it open. It all became clear. The publisher took the original 1954 version of “What time is it”, changed the title (what was wrong with the old one?) and put an updated cover on it. Interestingly, all of the illustrations inside remained the same. Budget troubles, perhaps? I don’t know, but they all look like this:

Not bad for a quarter eh?

The quality of illustrations in these kinds of old books is so charming. There is a certain innocence that I really like. Books like this are like a time capsule of society’s expectations, aren’t they? I mean, how many moms nowadays are out shopping at 10:00 a.m … dressed to the nines (in heels no less!), rosy-cheeked and beaming with love and patience for their adorably well-behaved children?

And what on earth is she about to do with that orange? And is she dancing a jig? So many questions.

What would the 2011 version of this book look like? Would they draw the mother with a Coach bag or wearing pilly yoga pants and flip flops?

Hmm. Maybe I should write the updated version myself…




Mother of two imps and wife of one. Writer, photographer, pro blogger, adventure-seeker, Ottawaholic, social media evangelist and lover of STUFF. Also known as @missfish on Twitter.

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