I’m always bound to run across treasures when I’m visiting my parents’ house, and this time around was no exception. Today, while rummaging through one of our closets, I came across several Big Little Books and Illustrated Classics that I used to read when I was a kid.
Finding these gems triggered a lot of enjoyable memories. I hadn’t seen the books in years. I assumed that my parents had gotten rid of them when they moved houses a decade ago and was bowled over to know that we still had them.
Big Little Books were approximately 3″ x 3″ in size, and featured popular comic and cartoon characters of the day. In my collection were three Road Runner books and a few assorted cartoon characters (Popeye and Bugs Bunny).
Each Big Little Book contained an adventure, which spanned roughly 120+ pages. On the left page, there was text. On the right side was an illustrated panel describing the main story point for that page. I guess these books could be considered cousins to conventional comic books.
Some of the Big Little Books were also “Flip-Books” – that is, at the upper corner of each right page was a small frame. When rapidly flipping the pages you could see a short animation. As a kid, I remember being blown away by this. In fact, The Big Little Books would go on to inspire me to create my own little “flip books”, usually on the corner of my memo pads.
Best of all, the price for these books was under a $1.00. (Usually 75 cents).
Illustrated Classics books followed a similar format to Big Little Books (no Flip-books, though), in that each page of prose had an accompanying panel that illustrated a specific story moment from the text.
The Illustrated Classics books were abridged adaptations of popular works of literary fiction. Some of the books in my collection include “Huck Finn”, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”, “Ben Hur”, “The Oregon Trail”, and “David Copperfield”. The cover on these books was $1.25 (a true bargain!).
Illustrated Classics were well illustrated. I prefer to think of them as a visual version of Cliff Notes. They were well written, straight-forward, and hit all the major story beats of the original text. They were great for last minute cramming. ;)
I’ll always treasure these books. I wish that they were still produced today. Maybe you remember these books, too. They were pretty neat, weren’t they?