London Calling: ANORAK Magazine Arrives in North America


By Cathy Olmedillas

Hello. I am Cathy, the founder of Anorak Magazine, and I am very proud to be part of the Red Barn family. I, with the help of some super talented illustrators and artists, have been making Anorak since 2006 and we are all very excited about the launch of our North American editions with our friends at Gibbs Smith Books.


A lot of parents who buy Anorak have mentioned that it reminds them of the books and annuals they used to get when they were kids. That’s exactly why I launched Anorak. Because the magazines, annuals and comics we used to get in the ’60s or ’70s, were a lot more fun and were of a higher quality than the hyper-commercial ones that are currently available. Unsurprisingly, one of my main sources of inspiration for Anorak is those very same ’60s and ’70s annuals I used to read.


I LOVE them because not only do they remind me of my childhood but they also were so beautifully crafted. The quality and diversity of illustration styles in them never cease to amaze me. They absolutely influence the sort of illustrators I commission in Anorak. I have collected a few over the years, picking them up from car trunk sales, charity shops and eBay.  If I see one from the ’70s, it is very, very difficult for me to resist buying it!

Here are some of my favourites:

Lenny the Lion. Published in Great Britain. 1959.

I must confess even though I have gone through that book more than any others, I have never read it!  I love the illustrations, the thick coated paper and the fact that each section only uses one colour. Very simple but really stunning.




Soft Toys and Dolls. Published in California. 1977.

This craft book is like a trip down memory lane for me. My Mum used to knit us puppets when we were kids, not dissimilar to the ones you will find in that book. The animal foot cozies and Louis Looselimbs are just hilarious!





Playhour. Published in Great Britain. 1975.

I have a few of these and they are such a delight because they have tons to read and do. They have a great mixture of poems, educational pieces, crazy stories (Ringo Frog thinks he is Neptune?!) and creative activities.





For more vintage books goodness, I would highly recommend you visited Vintage Children’s Books My Kid Loves, an amazing blog by Burgin Streetman who unearths some real gems,  or follow Silver Shoes and Rabbit Holes on Pinterest by Danzel whose collection makes me drool, or finally head over to Vintage Avenue’s blog by Sarah (also a talented illustrator) and who showcases some of the most amazing ’60s artists.

Win a Free Copy of ANORAK!

Share your favourite vintage children’s books in the comments box below and we will randomly pick 3 winners to receive a copy of Anorak. Competition ends Monday, January 28 at 6 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time). Good luck!


  1. My two childhood favorites from the ’80s are The Girl With the Donkey Tail by Anne Rockwell and Jenny and Jupie by Gyo Fujikawa. As a children’s book illustrator myself, these were hugely influential (and still are!)

    • It’s official, Gina! You’re our first contest entry! Good luck! By the way, love the Monsters + Christmas sketches you did on Pineapple Diary in December. Those are lots of fun!

  2. I used to love to go to the library with my M&D and can remember loving these teeny books called ‘Ant & Bee’ I think they did one about ABC? Also I loved to get Dick Brunas Miffy books, I have now bought the entire collection to read to my little granddaughters :0)

  3. Oh excited about this giveaway! I don’t know if this vintage, but I loved all of James Marshall’s books when I was little and I still do! Especially Miss Nelson is Missing!

  4. I was always fond of Roger Duvoisin’s Donkey Donkey and Kipling’s Just So Stories.

  5. I LOVED Romper Room, so The Romper Room Do Bee Book of Manners was much-loved (I still have it). I was born in Holland but grew up in Australia, so my mum read us lots of Dutch books to keep us in touch with our heritage – I loved anything by Dick Bruna; but my favourite was Jip en Janneke by Fiep Westendorp.

  6. A few of my favorites are Pails and Snails by Kate Loree, Space Cat on Mushrooms by Ruthven Todd, Boy Was I Mad by Kathryn Hitte and Mercer Mayer, Flannery Row by Karen Ackerman, Donald Has a Difficulty and Donald and the… by Peter F. Neumeyer, illus. by Edward Gorey, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, and all of Sibylle von Olfers’ stories, especially The Story of the Snow Children. There are thousands more that I love, but I’ll save them for another day! Thanks for the post and the links, I’m drooling over Silver Shoes and Rabbit Holes now too!

  7. My favourite books as a child were the Gumdrops series by Val Biro – I have very fond memories of them – my dad would always read them to me and my sister before he tucked us into bed, the highlight of our day :)

  8. My favorite thing in the world was to find the goldbug on every page in my grandma’s copy of Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry.

  9. “The Baby Beebee Bird” (1963 original Weekly Reader book, NOT the reprint) by Diane Massie. It is about a little mixed up bird that loves to sing at night. His nighttime serenade isn’t appreciated very much by the other animals at the zoo. This is my all-time favorite read-aloud bedtime book for little ones. The illustrations are so so sweet…as is the story.

  10. “How to Bake a Panda Cake” and “Robert the Rose Horse” are two of my favorites!

  11. The Snowman Who Wanted To Stay, it was a Fuzzy Wuzzy book, great illustrations.

  12. Wow, thanks for sharing these awesome pictures! I would love to find some of these books. Some of my favourites are Gyo Fujikawa, Ladybird books, Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone, of course Richard Scarry, and more….!!

  13. Do you all remember those amazing books by Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel? I’m so inspired with how she was able to not only tell a compelling story, but illustrate it in a way that adds that makes them simply unforgettable!

  14. When I was little, I remember always asking my parents to read me Goodnight Moon and the Petunia books by Roger Duvoisin. And of course Where the Wild Things Are was always a favorite.

  15. Kim Webster-Marsh :

    I have a few that I absolutely LOVED as a child, my favourites were Charlottes Web, The Twits & Stig of the dump !! A little later on I really enjoyed reading An Inspector Calls !! These are the ones that really stick in my mind :) X X

  16. The Little Round Garden – this was my mother’s when she was a young girl (back in the 50′s) and all of Richard Scarry’s books – I just love his illustrations.

  17. Schellen-Ursli or A Bell for Ursli in english. A classic swiss children’s book.

  18. My all time favorite kids book was 5-Minute Goodnight Stories. The cover had a little blond boy reading a book in bed. I had really short blond hair when I was little, so I would pretend the cover was an illustration of me. It was an anthology of short stories with the cutest illustrations. It was a huge book so I felt really cool carrying it around like I had a “big kid’s book.”

  19. I was quite fond of these:
    Miss Suzy by Miriam Young
    The Velveteen Rabbit illustrated by William Nicholson
    Who will comfort Toffle by Tove Jansson
    and of course Richard Scarry——lowly worm is the best.

  20. I started collecting golden books when my first daughter was born – she just turned 7! One of my favourites is The Little Engine That Could. My two daughters and I LOVE Anorak magazine and apps!!

  21. I love ‘The Tiger who came to tea’ by Judith Kerr, simply my favourite book. How I wished I’d been in the cafe with Sophie and her dad having tea.
    I love ‘A lion in the meadow’ by Jenny Williams, stunning and colorful illustrations and finally ‘La ville’ by my all time favourite illustrator Alain Grée. Massive Grée fan :) even adore the illustrations by his brother Gerard.

  22. So many to choose from…Lyle Lyle the Crocodile, The Story about Ping and anything from Leo Lionni – LOVED his illustrations then, LOVE them now!

  23. Tintin!

  24. I LOVED the Magic Key books with Biff, Chip and Kipper! As a child it was something I always wanted, my own magic key that could take me to places outside of my bedroom. Writing about this has brought back fond memories of those books and now I want to go buy them!

  25. I love the Petunia books by Roger Duvoisin. Such lovely illustrations!

  26. Richard Scarry’s books! One of my favorites is the Best Rainy Day Book Ever, More Than 500 Things To Color And Make. Remember doing crafts from this book in the 70′s & 80′s. Just found a barely used/like new copy of it on the internet for my 2 1/2 year old son! Can’t wait to recreate these memories!

  27. My favorites as an early reader were the original Richard Scarry books, then as I got older I loved LOVED any book by Marguerite Henry and illustrated by Wesley Dennis. Was a bit horse crazy I was …;0)

  28. The very first book I remember being read aloud was Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. I only found it again recently (I always thought it was by Dr Seuss, but it was only edited by him. But did he do the illustrations? Sorry, I’m not sure.) anyway, my two year old LOVES it and so do I, still. Another vintage recent find is Unfortunately by Remy Charlip. Every little boy should have this book. All my sons have enjoyed it and the illustrations are frame-worthy. It is perfect in every way.

  29. Hi, everyone! We have randomly chosen three winners who will receive a free copy of Anorak! Congratulations to Amberly, Kimberly and Matt W.! I’ll email you shortly to get your addresses.

    Thanks to everyone who participated and shared their favorite vintage children’s books!

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