With a Huffin’ and a Puffin’ These Covers Will Blow You Away

[Above: Book covers for Puffin Story Books published in 1951. Gloria Freedman’s front and back cover (The Secret Garden) and John Harwood’s covers for Fairy Tales From the Isle of Man.]

Four years after Australian paperback publisher Penguin Books had been founded by Sir Allen Lane, the idea for Puffin Books was hatched. In 1939, Noel Carrington (an editor for Country Life books), met Lane and proposed a series of children’s non-fiction picture books; inspired by the brightly coloured lithographed books, mass-produced at the time for Soviet children. Lane saw the potential and the first of the picture book series were published the following year.

The name “Puffin” was a natural companion to the existing Penguin and Pelican books. Many continued to be reprinted right into the 1970s. A fiction list soon followed when Puffin secured the paperback rights to Barbara Euphan Todd’s 1936 story Worzel Gummidge and brought it out as the first Puffin Story (PS) book in 1941, which was illustrated by John Harwood.

John Harwood illustrated 11 books for Puffin paperbacks including:

  • Baby Puffin (BP) books Puffin Rhymes (BP3) and The Old Woman and Her Pig (BP4)
  • Junior (J) books – Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp (J1)
  • Puffin Picture Books (PP) A Christmas Manger (PP103) and The Yuletide Cottage (PP107)
  • Puffin Story (PS) books including Worzel Gummidge (PS1); My Friend Mr Leakey by JBS Haldane (PS16); No Other White Men by Julia Davis (PS29); Worzel Gummidge and Saucy Nancy by Barbara Euphan Todd (PS30); Fairy Tales From the Isle of Man by Dora Broome (PS59); and A Moor of Spain by Richard Parker (PS78).

Gloria Freedman illustrated two Puffin Story books:

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett (PS69); and
  • A Puffin Book of Verse compiled by Eleanor Graham (PS72).

Many well-known illustrators and artists illustrated covers for Puffin including Charles Tunniliffe, Ronald Searle and Edward Ardizzone.

“with a huff and a puff I’ll blow your covers away”

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