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Homepage. This page: Childrens annuals and books on cars

Old childrens books and annuals that feature cars

Lots of people collect books that relate to motoring, whether new titles on older subjects, or books that were printed some years ago, when the content was relevant to motoring at the time. One popular pastime, and one that featured in The Automobile magazine not long ago, is the collecting of childrens annuals & books that feature car-related artwork on their covers.
Well into the 1970s, annuals were available that had great artwork on the covers, often depicting racing car drivers or other daring motorists grappling with their motorcar, whether on track or being pursued by the old bill. The market for annuals has died away for the most part now, apart from cartoon-strip publications by the Beano and similar. But flash back to the 1950s and before, and there was a wealth of annuals that could be purchased for a lucky offspring, many of which featured fantastic artwork on the cover. And that it what is shown on this page.
Not all books are in perfect condition, some are a bit moth-eaten at the edges, others suffering with damage to their spine. But the one thing they all have in common is some top cover artwork. A number of these childrens books are about the motor car, whereas others contain a selection of kids stories, one of which (but not always) may relate to automobiles.
Where possible I'll try to put a date to each book, but many were undated.
In all there are five pages in this section, featuring car-related artwork on children's books. This is Page 1.
Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5
Motors and their Story book
Motors And Their Story.
This small hardback book is one of the Little Golden Books, by John Anderson and edited by Herbert Strang, a name that crops up several times in this section on children's books. This particular book was printed in 1933. The cover shows Sir Malcolm Campbell streaking down the sands of Daytona in his Bluebird land speed record car (Sir Henry Segrave competing at Daytona in his Sunbeam features on another book cover at the foot of this page).
  The Motor Picture Book
The Motor Picture-Book
I'd been after a copy of this one for some time, when I finally acquired this one in 2009. Published around 1930 or so, it incorporates a number of car press photographs, and artwork by a variety of artists. So far I can identify paintings signed by Harry Woolley, Norman Keene, Laurie Taylor, Guy Lipscoyle, Shuffre, W. Luker Jnr., and several by an artist calling him/herself GES (?)
The Book for Boys
The Book for Boys.
This slightly cover-worn old annual was given to a child Christmas 1945, according to the inscription inside. Illustrations inside the book were by H.M. Brock and the book was published by Juvenile Productions Ltd, London. The cover shows a young lad diligently building a great looking toy racing car from a kit of parts, and this artwork was signed Mold (who was this artist??).
  Worlds Best Boys Annual
The World's Best Boys Annual
This is smaller than most annuals, and I guess must date to the 1930s at some time. The cover shows a racing car whose passenger has done a runner with a briefcase, hopping over onto a passing steam train. Top stuff. This book was published by Allied Newspapers Limited.
John Wentley Investigates
John Wentley Investigates.
Published by The Childrens Press and written by J.F.C. Westerman, this story book features a dashing racing car driver on the cover, piloting it seems the Whitney-Straight Maserati, judging by the distinctive grille. This book was a Christmas gift to a child in 1953. Despite the suggestion of being a motor racing story, it was actually about investigating the disappearance of some aircraft. The cover illustration is signed by WUUT.
  The Romance of the Motor Car
The Romance of the Motor Car
This beautifully presented book, showing two streamlined racers streaking beneath the Members Bridge at the Brookland Circuit, dates to the late 1920s or early 1930s I think. The author was G. Gibbard Jackson. Fortunately the dust jacket has survived as the book cover itself has no artwork on it. This rare title has plenty of black & white photos in it, to go with all the motoring articles.
Speed and other Stories
Speed and Other Stories.
More gritty racing drivers in evidence here, car number 15 leading number 12 past and excited crowd. On the rear is a continuation of this scene, with a rival car losing a wheel. This book was a gift for Christmas, 1936. The book shows some wear but is still very nice to look at, also published by Juvenile Productions Ltd. The first story in the book is Speed, about the racing of an MG vs a Bugatti at Brooklands.
  Monster Book for Boys
Monster Book for Boys
The cover of this book (a Christmas gift from 1954) was illustrated by Dean, and published by Dean & Son Ltd. A mixture of stories is within this hardback book, with one motor racing story, by Arthur Groom, featuring on Page 102 ("Ninth Lap Nerves"). This book features a shiny hardback finish, perhaps never having a dust jacket as on many earlier childrens books.
The Wonder Book of Motors
The Wonder Book of Motors.
A chisel-jawed racing driver waits patiently while the mechanics refuel his car. The cover artwork is signed by T.E. North (or is it F.E?), and is printed on both the dust jacket and the hard book cover. Price was 15 shillings and was a gift to someone in 1959. The book is full of articles about motoring, 1950s style, on 4 and also 2 wheels. This one, for a childrens book, is in unusually good condition.
  Modern World Book of Motors
The Modern World Book of Motors
This book turns up fairly frequently, I have a better copy somewhere but couldn't lay my hands on it. The cover artwork appears to show a single seater Maserati GP car overhauling what reminds me of the E-Type ERA. Artist was Hofton, and is also dated 1949. The rear cover artwork is equally attractive, showing two more race cars (a Maserati, being hounded by a black ERA - quite probably R4D). Author was Laurence H. Cade.
Champion Annual 1956
The Champion Annual for Boys 1956.
Although it doesn't say so on the cover, this artwork was done by Ronald Simmons. The only 4 wheeled car story that I could find is another by Arthur Dean, titled Rivals of The Stock Car Race, and nicely illustrated with black and white drawings. I've been emailed by someone who has an original pencil sketch of this artwork, so hopefully I'll be able to add that onto this page as an interesting comparison with the finished artwork.
  The Racer - by Hans Ruesch
The Racer
This isn't an annual, but in fact a paperback book, but the cover artwork fits in nicely with this section. Hans Ruesch was himself a driver from the 1930s (he originally drove the Alfa prior to WW2, that my old Dodge once carried after the war). I can't quite make out the signature of the artist on this cover. Originally published in 1955 this Arrow edition came out two years later.
Champion Annual 1956 artwork
The Champion Annual for Boys 1956.
Amazingly I was corresponding with Paul from Nova Scotia in Canada, and he has the original working drawings done by the artist for the Champion Annual for Boys annual shown above. A friend of Pauls has a large file of similar drawings, and gave him this one as he too is interested in the artwork that features on these old annuals.
  Gumdrop
Gumdrop Finds a Friend
I grew up with the Gumdrop books in the early 70s, and they have been in print for several decades. The book shown here, Gumdrop Finds a Friend, written and illustrated by Val Biro as always, was published in 1973. These little books were piled high with great illustrations such as that on the cover. The stories were based around Mr Biro's own Austin Clifton Heavy Twelve-Four.
Bright Boys Album of Motor Cars
The Bright Boys' Album of Motor Cars.
Although undated, this pocket-size booklet was given away with copies of The Skipper comic, sometime during the 1930s. All the cars featured inside are of that era, with vehicles such as the Auburn Speedster, Chrysler Airflow, Isotta Fraschini Sedanca Coupe, MG Airline, and Vale Special included.
  The Motor Bumper Book
Motor Bumper Book
A heavyweight childrens' book now, with all it's pages printed on cardboard. Published by Collins, this too dates to the early 1930s. The cover features an illustration of Sir Henry Segrave blasting along the beach at Daytona in his 1000hp Sunbeam land speed record car. Despite the book's title, not all the stories are motoring-related. One that is though is The Battle of Phoenix Park, "the story of the second Irish Grand Prix" reproduced courtesy of The Autocar magazine.
Collins Motor Annual
Collins' Motor Annual.
Other examples of this annual appear in this section, this one features two cars speeding along a mountain track. A note inside dates this one to 1934, and again various stories feature inside.
  Adventure Twins
Thrills with the Adventure Twins.
This slim hardback storybook dates I think to the early fifties', and was published by Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd. Unusually the book is colour throughout, the only motoring story being Racing Trouble, about a dastardly racing driver who'd stop at nothing to scupper his rivals.

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