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The fabulous covers of Puffin Books

helena fairfax, puffin books, kaye webb
My collection of Puffins

helena fairfax, puffin booksI first wrote this post for my friend the brilliant J.Q. Roses’s blog. I’m reposting it today as an excuse to show some of the wonderful covers that Puffin books produce. In fact some of these covers have become so iconic that a collection of one hundred of them is available as a boxed set of postcards.

Hope you enjoy looking at them, and thanks, J.Q. Rose, for hosting me and my books earlier this year.

Kaye Webb and Puffin Books for children

I’ve chosen as my inspiration a lady called Kaye Webb, who was editor of Puffin Books – a British imprint for children’s books – during my childhood in the sixties and seventies.

When Kaye Webb took over at Puffin Books, the imprint had only 151 titles. By the end of Kaye Webb’s tenure she had helena fairfax, puffin booksbrought out over a thousand more titles, including picture books and a range aimed at teenagers. She also founded the Puffin Book Club for children – of which I was a proud member, with my own badge :) – and the club is still going today.

I can’t tell you how much Puffin Books meant to me as a child growing up. I still have my favourite, battered copies in a bookcase in my study. You only have to look at the covers to know that these books were filled with magical worlds that transported me far from home and school. Kaye Webb was one of the first ever editors to realise the importance of writing for children, and she made the authors she published, and their stories, into household names.

helena fairfax, puffin booksThere are so many Puffin Books that still stick in my mind today, it’s hard to pick out just a few. The classic Stig of the Dump, by Clive King; Watership Down, by Richard Adams; all the books by Leon Garfield and Joan Aiken, which I loved. Noel Streatfield, Laura Ingalls Wilder – the list goes on and on.

Puffin books are filled with adventure. They are positive stories in which compassionate people triumph, and good always overcomes evil. The stories resonate with children, because they present a world so unlike the world many of us grow up in – that is, a world in which all ends as it should. Kaye Webb was a firm believer that if more children read books, the world would be a better place. Her Puffin books were certainly the mainstay of my childhood, and reading them inspired me to become a writer.puffinpuffin 3puffin 5puffin 4puffin 1I hope you enjoyed my cover-filled post! Do you remember Puffin Books as a child? And did you have a favourite cover? Or does a favourite cover of any other children’s book stay in your mind? If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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16 thoughts on “The fabulous covers of Puffin Books

  1. Great post, Helena, and three cheers for Kaye Webb. My brother and s-i-l gave me the box of postcards for Christmas last year and it has been a joy to look through them (don’t think I can bear to use any of them).

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  2. Great post! My own favourite was/is Paul Berna’s A Hundred Million Francs. I’ll never forget the mental picture of those children careering down the hill on their wheeled horse. Beautifully translated!

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    1. I’d forgotten all about that book, Linda. Thanks for reminding me! That’s another one I loved. And another one I forgot to mention is Goodbye to the Purple Sage, with illustrations by Quentin Blake. I lent my copy to someone and they lost it :( If anyone knows where I can get a copy, please let me know!
      Thanks for your comment, Linda!

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  3. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Joan Aiken still on my and now my daughter’s shelves. A Little Princess, so much better than The Secret Garden. The appearance of these and others was a lovely moment of nostalgia to hit my morning! But were you – or anyone else- a member of Kaye Webb’s Puffin Club? I feel a trip to the loft and a blog post coming on, to celebrate Puffineers everywhere! Thank you.

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    1. Jessica, I was a member of the Puffin Club! I’d forgotten all about that. I had a Puffin badge and everything. I woder what’s happened to it?
      Join Aikin was one of my favourite writers, and I still read her books today. Thanks so much for dropping in, and for your great comment!

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      1. That’s brilliant! It’s wonderful to know so many people still have such memories of the books and the club. And the books are still great reads today. Thanks so much for the link!

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