Gwen White’s Book of Toys

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While researching for my last post, Gwen White’s Pictorial Perspective, I discovered that she had written and illustrated other books as well. That led to research into whether I could buy any of them. Most were not available or beyond my budget, but I did find one copy of White’s A Book of Toys that was affordable. Gwen White and toys. I bought it based on that combination, and the cover, without knowing anything about the interior contents.

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I am happy to report that the book is as wonderful as I’d hoped. The images are simple and grand at the same time. The writing is straightforward yet playful. This is part of our heritage as children’s book illustrators and authors.

I want to share it with you here and I couldn’t decide what to leave out so I have scanned the entire book. It feels an appropriate companion piece to my earlier posts on A Book of Pictorial Perspective and Folk Toys -les jouets populaires

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I may have to go back to the London Museum and Kensington palace to see if any of the toys White has illustrated are still on exhibit. The museum at Bethnal Green is now the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood which I wrote about here.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this little book as much as I have.

(Maybe you figured this out already, but the Penguins on the cover aren’t just toys. The publisher is Penguin and the book is part of a King Penguin Books series)

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12 responses to “Gwen White’s Book of Toys

  1. I’ve been focused on puppet theaters lately. I love this book of toys. someone once called my sculptures non toys

  2. ps. I love this blog so much. I look forward to it

  3. What a charming book! Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  4. That’s wonderful! Thank you so much.

  5. Love this book, would make a wonderful present.

  6. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia

    Thanks for sharing with us and rescuing this charming book from the “book graveyard”, where all out of print books go to wither and die! The pictures are blissful, but I must say the “voice” of the author Gwen White reminds me strangely of Enid Blyton – that same slightly condescending, prim and proper British nanny tone! Children’s authors really talked down to kids in the 1940s, didn’t they? We had to wait for the 1960s before we could sense that the authors were actually on the side of the children they were supposed to be writing for.

  7. Wow! Beautiful illustrations! Love the walk through the centuries, the guessing, the shared information about the toys. Very cool! Thanks for posting!

  8. What glorious classic shapes and colors. A treasure to study!

  9. I can see why you are a Gwen White fan — so much better than the modern Visual Dictionary. I’m wondering if Julie found these toys in Prague!

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