649 - Bible

Animal, birds and plants of the Bible 1964
Life in New Testament times 1968
The history of our Bible
What to look for inside a church 1972
What to look for outside a church 1972

Wills & Hepworth published books with a religious theme at the start of the 40's but even though they seem to be found everywhere, they didn't sell very well. And were largely sidelined by the other curriculum areas. However, the bible wasn't abandoned altogether, as this intermittent series shows. ABP was written by Hilda Rostron and illustrated by Clive Uptton, the same team responsible for several of the other religious 606 series. Clearly, Hilda had a superb knowledge of the bible (or had lots of spare time!) since she drew out references to the three title areas, complete with chapter and verse. The references to Cedar trees, horses and ostriches are all explained as an encyclopaedia might, with no spiritual overtones.

By the time the second volume came along, the dust-jacket had (sadly) vanished, as had the author and illustrator. In stepped Ralph Gower (for his first and last Ladybird book) and Eric Winter respectively. Life in New Testament Times neatly sums up the contents - a mixture of historical and social details. The inside front cover also gave a list of bible references for readers to check out. Three more years passed, then "the History of our Bible" was released, retaining the services of Winter and recruiting P.J. Hunt (responsible for this and the final two volumes) as author. The story starts in 1300 and documents the struggle to have the bible printed and made available to all. It follows the layout and style of the previous volume in many respects.

The two "inside & outside" a church volumes both feature attractive collage style covers, perhaps reflecting Ladybird's wish to move with the times design-wise. Artist Ronald Lampitt illustrated these and another 7 books for Ladybird in a proficient and somewhat "grainy" style. First editions featured a cut-away interior and exterior of the church in question. Curiously, when they were later subsumed under the "Religious Topics" series, alongside books from 606A and 612), "Outside" lost the cutaway whilst "Inside" kept it!