Monday, September 10, 2007
The Bumper Book of Look and Learn
Look and Learn, the high quality children's educational magazine of the 1960s to the 1980s made a return at the start of this year as a subscription-only fortnightly partwork. Now, like in the days when the original magazine was around, there's a chunky hardback "annual" in the shops for the Christmas market.
The Bumper Book of Look and Learn is published by Century at £18.99 r.r.p, and living up to its self-proclaimed "bumper" status is a large format 256 page hardback on top quality stock, bigger and better than any Look and Learn Annual of the past. Like the revived magazine, it features reprints from the original title, selected for the book by Stephen Pickles. The reproduction of the old pages is first rate, with sharp text and rich, colourful artwork. (The images are far better than the photographs I took of the book here.) Clearly a lot of care and attention has gone into the production of this volume.
Legend has it that most people seem to have bought the original Look and Learn solely for the luxurious Don Lawrence artwork on The Trigan Empire comic strip (a complete story of which is also included in this book). It was also the magazine that parents bought for their children, hoping it would educate and entertain. Truth is, there must have been many children who did lap up the articles as Look and Learn was selling in the region of 300,000 copies a week for four years before The Trigan Empire joined it from Ranger magazine in 1966.
Looking through the book it's understandable to see why Look and Learn lasted for 20 years. The artwork was always of the highest standard, featuring artists such as Ron Embleton, Angus McBride, Peter Jackson and others. Sadly, the one downside of this book is it fails to credit the artists unless the original feature had already done so.
One of the notable things about The Bumper Book of Look and Learn is that the historical articles have all been paginated chronologically. In the original magazine, there was no such order to the features; an item on the moon landing on one spread, an article on the battle of Agincourt on the next, followed by a feature on the Industrial Revolution, for example. In collating the book however, Stephen Pickles has cleverly put all the articles into a historical order, from the animals of the Ice Age to an item on space probes. This gives the book an added benefit of being an impressive history book for children.
The articles in Look and Learn were always concise, running to two or three pages at most, but thankfully not as brief as some of the "features" in today's children's magazines. These old articles are thorough and well researched and cover such subjects as great battles, British castles, famous historical figures, social changes, and nature and wildlife.
For people who remember the magazine, this is a wonderful collection of quality work representing those days. For those who are new to the title it's a worthy book on history, intelligently written and superbly illustrated.
The Bumper Book of Look and Learn is available in bookshops for £18.99 (r.r.p.) or from Amazon.co.uk currently for £11.39.
The official website for The Best of Look and Learn magazine, where you can subscribe to the 48 issue run, is here: