A first book of Aesop's Fables 74
740 was an attempt to launch a series of popular children's tales that didn't fit neatly into the 606D range, which concentrated on the Grimm's type of fairy tale. Most were written by the team of Marie Stuart, who arranged the original story and Ladybird stalwart Robert Ayton who illustrated all but Gulliver, who was illustrated by Martin Aitchison.
The series was one of the first to break away from the "page of text, page of illustration" format and include text on facing pages. The artwork was also a mixture of full colour and line-art. Whether Ayton preferred"real" subjects is unknown, but of the 42 books he illustrated, these are perhaps among his less exciting efforts, with the artwork appearing quite "flat". Perhaps the fee was reduced (meaning less effort) or the overall standards of the company were lowering. The ever-popular Arabian stories were a good choice for the series and surprisingly had not been tackled before.
The "Legends" books were written by JDM Preshous, his only LB work. Both feature quite gory scenes - "frightening, even today", as the intro runs. The second volume helpfully includes the pronunciation for some 60 characters from Greek Mythology - clearly the author loved his subject! Both books featured two stories each, as shown on the cover artwork.
The final (in the initial batch) was Gulliver's Travels, notable for a number of reasons. Firstly, it seems very hard to find, so may not have sold very well, or been in print for long. Secondly, it was perhaps the first book to feature a newer LB logo, a 3/4 shot of a crawling insect. Finally, it had a superb cover and illustrations, courtesy of Martin Aitchison, who gave his characters a visual depth lacking in earlier books. The cover itself shows a magnificent hand, almost like a piece science-fiction artwork.
The series was rested for a couple of years, they revived with the "Tales of King Arthur" (to appear on this site soon) and "Robin Hood adventures" (covered briefly under the Series 549 write-up).
Some from the series reappeared in a large format (10" by 7") edition, using the same stories and artwork. See "Specials".