From the 1970s onward, Peter Usborne’s children’s factual publishing empire was the Oxford University Press for the pre-secondary set. Their colourful info-packed tomes, liberally sprinkled with friendly, big-nosed cartoon characters, were the darlings of the school library (when The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was on loan, at least). The Usborne Book of Things to do on a Rainy Day was a self-explanatory favourite. Two friendly, big-nosed cartoon clowns guided the indoor-bound reader through a plethora of homely activities: growing washing soda crystals, making paper hats, etc. The friendly, big-nosed, overcoated spies dotted throughout the Usborne Spy’s Guidebook inhabited an exciting world where unbreakable codes could be written on a belt wrapped round an old stick, and oppressive Eastern Bloc governments thwarted with the cunning deployment of lemon juice as writing medium. More heavyweight was the Usborne Book of World Geography, a comprehensive guide to the friendly, big-nosed peoples of the Earth, full of inoffensively rendered world facts. For instance, comparative gross national product was indicated by figures in national dress holding appropriately scaled money bags: while a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates rejoiced in his ten-foot sack, a peasant representing Bhutan put a bravely cheery face on his golf ball-sized pouch. Best of all, however, was 1979’s Usborne Book of The Future: A Trip in Time to the Year 2000 and Beyond: a mind boggling grab-bag of never-going-to-happen wonders like lunar Olympics, nuclear-powered artificial super-hearts, domed underwater cities, and Jupiter being taken apart and rebuilt as a big shell around the sun, for some unfathomable reason. Its timeline of inventions from 1980 to the twenty-second century has, twenty-five years in, so far proved to be something of a disappointment to the legion of thirtysomethings still awaiting that robot butler.
TVC on Twitter
Creamguide's Pick of the Day
Just because Richard Marson’s not involved anymore doesn’t mean that this show will stop going nuts about Doctor Who and indeed today’s show appears to offer nothing but, in preparation of the new series which is just days away. Peter Capaldi nips in for a chat and we can’t wait to see how he addresses the show’s youngest fans. We’re sure he’ll get on great with the kids, actually, not least because he was famously a massive Whovian where he was in short trousers.
Subscribe to Creamguide
Points of View
- In 'Never Too Young To Rock ', Alan smith says: "Not much plot and rather confusing in places-but still very worth it for the musical clips! Mud, Glitter band and Rubettes give good..."
- In 'Side By Side ', Alan smith says: "It’s obviously dated humour wise- but taking that into account; it’s a good enough film of it’s kind! Scores over sister film..."
- In 'The 50 Greatest Things About Match Of The Day', Richard Davies says: "Great stuff, Fantasy Football League recreated or featured many of these."
- In 'The 50 Greatest Things About Match Of The Day', Boggenstrovia says: "51. Chris Burns of Portsmouth being carried off shoulder high after their 6th Round FA Cup defeat of. Brian..."
- In 'Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris, The', Dristarg says: "I hate to nitpick, but that last sentence refers to ‘The Story of the Treasure Seekers’."