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(this article from 1999)

Remember those great Golden Books you grew up with? Well they're still around, and more fun than ever.

Golden Books has been publishing since 1942, so chances are you may have read 'The Poky Little Puppy', 'Scuffy The Tugboat' or the adventures of 'Pat The Bunny' when you were growing up - millions of copies of these classic Little Golden Books have been sold over the decades.

The original 42 page books were designed to be handled easily by children, inexpensive but vibrant. In the Forties, few working families could afford books for their kids, Little Golden Books helped to open a new market with their 25 cent pricetag.

Recently, Golden Books sent me a selection of some of their latest publications. Their line of activity books are really cute, filled with gimmicks sure to keep children busy - puzzles, coloring pages, slates, comic books to assemble, postcards, learning games, glitter glue, stickers and stuff that kids like. And the illustrations are top notch, too.

For example, one excellent activity book is the Scooby Doo 'Super Paint with Water' book entitled "Jeepers, It's The Creeper". Scooby fans will recognize that the story is lifted from an actual episode of the original 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You' cartoon series. The pages are imprinted with paints so that a brush with water will make the art come alive with color. And it's good to see that the character designs and illustrations (by Scott Neely) are true to the original series. That in itself is rare, even Hanna Barbera can't get it right anymore!

Golden also have a large, colorful line of Little Golden Books, the well-known 6 1/2" x 8 1/2" books with the hard cardboard covers that take a beating but keep on reading. Little Golden Books set a new graphic standard for children's books beginning in the Forties that was uniquely theirs, distinct from the ubiquitous Disney style, and it's good to see that high standard continues.

Today, the Little Golden Books tradition continues with re-releases of their classic stories and books featuring characters licensed from television and current popular literature, featuring characters like Scooby Doo, The Powerpuff Girls (two of my favorite guilty pleasures), Barbie, Pokéman, Richard Scarry, 101 Dalmations and more.

With the practical demise of comic books created for children, Little Golden Books gives early readers a way to flex their imaginations with simple, wholesome stories.

A recent release to look for: Powerpuff Girls creator Craig McCracken wrote and illustrated the Little Golden Book "Big, Terrible Trouble" - it's a rare opportunity to see how the creator handles his own characters in another medium. In contrast to the slick, black outline style of the animated series, McCracken's opus is done in a painterly, retro Golden Book style. Very cool.

All of the Golden books are well-designed with a modern feel, but still have the distinctive, illustrated golden spine that makes them instantly recognizable and eminently collectable. These are books you'll enjoy almost as much as your kids!

UPDATE: Golden Books is now out of business, their titles were sold to Classic Media.

 

The inside front covers to the Little Golden Book series invites kids to personalize their books.

"I remember when Golden Books Inc. did special versions of stories based on popular tv shows that 50s-60s kids enjoyed. "Buffalo Bill Jr.", "Gene Autry", "Bugs Bunny Takes A Job As A Soda Jerk", "Supercar!", "Wally Gator", "Howdy Doody's Circus!", "Captain Kangaroo's Surprise Party!", and "Rootie Kazootie's Lucky Strike!" were among a few of the stories that were adapted from the characters and plots of TV's most popular live kid shows and cartoons.

"Golden Books still prints books based on kids tv shows. But the quality of kids tv on the networks, cable and PBS TV is something to be desired.

"Also.You forgot to mention that Wonder Books: "Treasure Books" Series also published books based on such well known kids tv characters as "The Merry Mailman", "Mr. I. Magination", "Mighty Mouse", "Heckle & Jekyll", and Soupy Sales.

- Kevin S.Butler

 


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