Earth mysteries, crafts, folklore, ghosts, puppets, eccentrics, landscape archaeology and rude rhymes; The Puffin annual series commenced in 1974 with distinctive cover art by Puffin’s in house illustrator Jill McDonald and illustrious guest illustrators such as Raymond Briggs, Edward Ardizzone, Quentin Blake, Fritz Wegner and Tove Jansson. With fiction and articles by the likes of Michael Bond, Susan Cooper, Tove Jansson, Norman Hunter, Roald Dahl and Nicholas Fisk. Contributors to number one also incuded Joyce Grenfell and Prince Charles !
I post these excerpts not simply as an exercise in nostalgia – I never owned them as a kid and I can’t imagine there would have been many children who were completely absorbed by them – it would have been a disappointing Christmas gift from a distant “auntie” perhaps, that would slowly grab your interest later in the year. But its instructive to remember how childrens’ entertainment of this period, for some at least, lent a sense of enchantment to the world, maybe educated, but also mystified, terrified and occupied. You could say that these annuals are a kind of snapshot of British childrens’ fiction and television of the period too. Its a glimpse of a world before CGI, licensing, Cowell and Cbeebies drained any real magic from our childrens’ culture.