I spent quite a few years of my childhood in England, and one of my most cherished books from the time are the Topsy and Tim books by Jean and Gareth Adamson. I’m not sure of it was the simple, colourful illustrations or the storylines which were pretty ordinary but interesting at the same time. Whatever it was, its held its magic for the past 20-odd years as my old dog-eared copies are among my 4 year-old’s favourites.
Today most childrens books and indeed, toys, are based on the commercialised marketing of big names – like Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, Barbie and so on. Yes, my kids love those two, but the magic of two ordinary kids undoubtedly have a special pull of their own.
The Topsy and Tim books were written by Cambridgeshire author Jean Adamson, and her late husband Gareth and first published in 1960.
Jean, now 74, believed that children created there own magic and that the decision to make them twins was so the boy and the girl could have “an equal place”.
“We don’t need magic because all the world is magic to children.
ÖLet’s do something for the modern world with real-life children’.”
As the series developed Gareth and Jeanís three children influenced and Jean would see how the children reacted to situations which were mirrored in the book.
“When we started we didn’t have any children and then we had our own three children in quick succession and the children almost wrote the books for us,” she said.
Since it was first published in 1960, more than 130 Topsy and Tim titles have been published with sales of over 21 million copies.
New editions was released in 2003, and although my daughter loves them just the same, I definitely miss the wonderful illustrations of the old editions.