Ladybird’s longstanding association as a children’s educational publisher is set to change with the launch of a series of books designed to help adults tackle hangovers and midlife crises.
Penguin Ladybird Books will launch the line of darkly comic books using images from its archive for the front covers.
The move is a first for the publisher which was synonymous with producing wholesome idealised portrayals of the nuclear family in its children’s books designed to education them on things like cars and steam engines.
Titles in the new adult range will all begin ”The Ladybird Book of The….” and will cover topics ranging from hipsters, hangovers, wives and dating.
The direction of the books can be summed up by the opening of The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis which begins: "When we're young we wonder if we'll be a surgeon or an astronaut. We can be anything we want to be. Then one day we can't".
Author Joel Morris said he wrote the new books to help adults make sense of the world in a similar way that the original books had help children.
Using original 1940s images from Ladybird’s archive was integral to the humour which is the central theme of the new line but this proved difficult in practice said Morris.
“In the original books Mum is at home with the kids and Dad is at work fixing a Lancaster bomber” he said. "It's hard to find images that have men and women in the same picture. Luckily, that's become part of the joke”.
He added that being able to use the images in this way was like being allowed to mess about with a national treasure, it’s like repainting Saint Paul's."
While the new books are out of step with Ladybird’s traditions, popular spoof versions of its educational range have appeared on the internet such as Timmy’s First Riot’ and ‘Bombs made easy’.