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Lucy Mangan on Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups

Guest writer Lucy Mangan discovers the hilarious new books for adults, and muses on what topics she would create for the series

Lucy Mangan

I have, as Eric Morecambe used to say, a long felt want. It is that John Craven’s Newsround be brought back, but this time for grown-ups. Everything is so complicated. All the wars. All the politics. All the economics. I’ve not even got a handle on I’m a Celebrity, this year. I bowed out after I found there was a woman called Lady Colin in it, when I’m still none too clear about why there is a Princess Michael of Kent. I need someone to break down the modern world and feed it to me in pre-digested pellet form, like an owl to its starving, clueless chicks.

I’ve sent many letters to his agent, but so far no dice. Well, you had your chance, Craven! Salvation has arrived from another quarter, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. Ladybird has come to the rescue, bringing out eight new books for adults on some of the most pressing and complex issues of our day. They include the new Ladybird Book of Dating, of The Hipster, of Mindfulness, the Mid-life Crisis and The Hangover, plus two vital additions to the How it Works series – The Wife and The Husband.

The most valuable to me so far, in a world which recently saw the advent of the clip-on man bun, is The Ladybird Book of the Hipster. A sample page runs: “Hipsters think plates are very old fashioned. They prefer to eat from planks, tiles and first-generation iPads. This tofu self-identifying cross-species is being served on a spring-loaded folder that contains the script of a short film about a skateboarding shoelace designer.”

The facing page is of a gingerbread man on a baking tray, drawn – if memory augmented by common sense serves – from the opening pages of that seminal work The Gingerbread Man, in which patisserie-based hubris, though it outpaces many of the village folk and animal population eventually meets vulpine nemesis, legs first.

There is something quotable on every page of every book. Like the originals, there isn’t a misplaced or extraneous word in them – everything has been rigorously honed by authors Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley, this time in the service of comedy rather than education and it works just as beautifully.

The text alone would do me (“Caff Eh? in Brighton is a popular spot for hipsters. The owner guarantees that his customers will never have heard of anything on the menu – things like dotka, commoner’s milk, blacknock and carnip tartonne, keyhole coffee and these freshly oven-balched beetcorn labneys”), but its perfect juxtaposition with the original illustrations from so many remembered favourites makes me hysterical.

One of The Enormous Turnip’s pictures, of the owner contemplating the giant vegetable emerging in his field is repurposed for the book on Mindfulness: “In ancient times Guru Bhellend entered a state of mindfulness that lasted thirty-five years. During this time, he thought about everything. When he had finished, he wrote the answer on a grain of rice. He never married.”

Apart from the making-me-laugh-til-I-cry aspect, I think what I love most about these books is that they provide the same enormous satisfaction and warm glow as the ones they pastiche did – the satisfaction and glow that come from knowing you have been provided with something that is so much better than it needs to be. They are still the result of immense knowledge being distilled into 56 pages of pure brilliance – it’s just that this time, that knowledge is a matter of acute observation, joke-crafting and comic timing instead of natural history, astronomy or Guy Fawkes.

For next year, I would like a How it Works on Pensions and Mortgages, a Ladybird Book of Passive-Aggression and one on Diagnosing Yourself on the Internet. I’ll leave it with you, boys. In the meantime, thanks for all the laughs and for solving the entirety of this year’s Christmas gift-giving. Craven – there is, actually, still room in my life for some bullet point on Syria ‘n’ stuff, but you’d better move quickly. The market waits for no man.

More in this series

The Story of Brexit

Jason Hazeley (and others)

*A HILARIOUS, BRAND NEW BOOK IN THE PHENOMENAL LADYBIRDS FOR GROWN UPS SERIES FOR AUTUMN 2018*

The Story of Brexit - a nugget of wisdom from bestselling authors Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris.

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

A Ladybird First Grown-Up Picture Book (Ladybirds for Grown-Ups)

Jason Hazeley (and others)

THE PERFECT GIFT for all of the 'GROWN-UPS' still wondering what life is all about.

Talking about the farmer's market:

How much are these carrots?
What, per kilogram?
Each? Really? What does 'heritage' mean?
Could I just have an onion, then, please?
Oh. Do you take credit cards?

_____________

Talking about running:

Why am I running? Where am I going?
Do I want a longer life if I have to spend so much of it running?
Why aren't I at home? Am I running away from home? Am I scared of home? Why is my brain full of weird, horrible thoughts? Is it because running is so very, very boring?
Why did I forget my headphones?

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

'Hilarious' Stylist

The Ladybird Book of The Do-Gooder

Jason Hazeley (and others)

THE PERFECT GIFT for the Do-Gooder in your life. (Don't you just hate them?)
_________________________________________________

The do-gooder does all sorts of crazy things.

It can be something as easy as running a marathon, or as difficult as dressing up.

To make this eccentric behaviour seem less like a cry for help or the beginnings of a substantial personal crisis, the do-gooder does it for charity.
_________________________________________________

Vernon has a job as a street fundraiser for the R.N.L.I.

He wears a high-visibility jacket, a high visibility and high visibility trousers.

Everybody on the street still pretends they cannot see him.
_________________________________________________

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

'Hilarious' Stylist

The Ladybird Book of Boxing Day

Jason Hazeley (and others)

THE PERFECT STOCKING FILLER for anyone who spends Christmas Day counting the minutes until the Boxing Day sales start.
__________________________________

'There are two important days at Christmas.

There is Christmas Day, when everyone is jolly and hungry and very pleased to see each other.

And there is Boxing Day'
__________________________________

'Jonathan and Oriane have gone for a Boxing Day walk with Transformers the dog.

Walking is healthy. It will help them digest their dinner.

And by the time they get home, Jonathan's father might have finished being racist and fallen asleep in his liquorice allsorts.'
__________________________________

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

'Hilarious' Stylist


Other new titles for Autumn 2017:
How it Works: The Brother
How it Works: The Sister
The Ladybird Book of the Ex
The Ladybird Book of the Nerd
The Ladybird Book of the New You
The Ladybird Book of Balls
The Ladybird Book of the Big Night Out
The Ladybird Book of the Quiet Night In
People at Work: The Rock Star

Previous titles in the Ladybirds for Grown Ups series:
How it Works: The Husband
How it Works: The Wife
How it Works: The Mum
How it Works: The Dad
The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis
The Ladybird Book of the Hangover
The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness
The Ladybird Book of the Shed
The Ladybird Book of Dating
The Ladybird Book of the Hipster
How it Works: The Student
How it Works: The Cat
How it Works: The Dog
How it Works: The Grandparent
The Ladybird Book of Red Tape
The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door
The Ladybird Book of the Sickie
The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse
The Ladybird Book of the Do-Gooder

The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door

Jason Hazeley (and others)

THE PERFECT GIFT for anyone moving house or worried what them next door will get up to next . . .

'Logan is reporting his next-door neighbour to the police again.

This time, it's for using a hairdryer before 8am. Last time, it was for trespass by blossom.

'You again,' says the duty sergeant, and gets the forms.
_____________

'Rachel and Robert's neighbour Mrs Vavasour has complained to the council about their hedge, their cat and the colour of their front door.

The morning after Rachel left her hair straighteners plugged in, Mrs Vavasour complains to the council that she was kept awake by a bright, flickering orange light and the sound of exploding wood.'

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

'Hilarious' Stylist

The Ladybird Book of Red Tape

Jason Hazeley (and others)

THE PERFECT GIFT for unshakable rule abiding colleagues.
__________________________________

'Your call is important to us,' says the lady on the help-line.

The call is important because it is currently making the company 48p per minute.'
__________________________________

'Sam has forgotten her password so she cannot access her e-mail account.

She can reset her password using a memorable name, but she has forgotten her memorable name too, so the account locks.

Sam automatically receives a link so she can reset her password.

It is sent to her e-mail account.'
__________________________________

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

'Hilarious' Stylist

Other new titles for Autumn 2017:
How it Works: The Brother
How it Works: The Sister
The Ladybird Book of the Ex
The Ladybird Book of the Nerd
The Ladybird Book of the New You
The Ladybird Book of Balls
The Ladybird Book of the Big Night Out
The Ladybird Book of the Quiet Night In
People at Work: The Rock Star

Previous titles in the Ladybirds for Grown Ups series:
How it Works: The Husband
How it Works: The Wife
How it Works: The Mum
How it Works: The Dad
The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis
The Ladybird Book of the Hangover
The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness
The Ladybird Book of the Shed
The Ladybird Book of Dating
The Ladybird Book of the Hipster
How it Works: The Student
How it Works: The Cat
How it Works: The Dog
How it Works: The Grandparent
The Ladybird Book of Red Tape
The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door
The Ladybird Book of the Sickie
The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse
The Ladybird Book of the Do-Gooder

The Ladybird Book of the Meeting

Jason Hazeley (and others)

THE PERFECT GIFT for the department.
__________________________________

'People at work spend a lot of the day in meetings.

Meetings are important because they give everyone a chance to talk about work.

Which is easier than doing it.'
__________________________________

'Rudd attends meetings remotely from his home office.

He has three telephones, two Swiss desk intercoms, a fax machine and a wall-mounted theremin.

Sometimes nobody speaks to him for days.'
__________________________________

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

'Hilarious' Stylist


Other new titles for Autumn 2017:
How it Works: The Brother
How it Works: The Sister
The Ladybird Book of the Ex
The Ladybird Book of the Nerd
The Ladybird Book of the New You
The Ladybird Book of Balls
The Ladybird Book of the Big Night Out
The Ladybird Book of the Quiet Night In
People at Work: The Rock Star

Previous titles in the Ladybirds for Grown Ups series:
How it Works: The Husband
How it Works: The Wife
How it Works: The Mum
How it Works: The Dad
The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis
The Ladybird Book of the Hangover
The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness
The Ladybird Book of the Shed
The Ladybird Book of Dating
The Ladybird Book of the Hipster
How it Works: The Student
How it Works: The Cat
How it Works: The Dog
How it Works: The Grandparent
The Ladybird Book of Red Tape
The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door
The Ladybird Book of the Sickie
The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse
The Ladybird Book of the Do-Gooder

The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse

Jason Hazeley (and others)

THE PERFECT GIFT for those who know that the end of the world is approaching . . .
__________________________________

'Lara has constructed her own home-made flame-thrower.

The flame-thrower has turned the walking corpses into burning walking corpses. Now everything they touch catches fire.

'This did not happen with the cricket bat,' thinks Lara'
__________________________________

'Some people say civilisation after a zombie apocalypse will go back to The Stone Age.

Nobody tidies up or collects the bins. The electricity keeps going off. There are dead bodies piled up in the streets.

It is actually more like the 1970s.'
__________________________________

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

'Hilarious' Stylist

Other new titles for Autumn 2016:
How it Works: The Student
How it Works: The Cat
How it Works: The Dog
How it Works: The Grandparent
The Ladybird Book of the Meeting
The Ladybird Book of Red Tape
The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door
The Ladybird Book of the Sickie

Previous titles in the Ladybirds for Grown Ups series:
How it Works: The Husband
How it Works: The Wife
How it Works: The Mum
How it Works: The Dad
The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis
The Ladybird Book of the Hangover
The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness
The Ladybird Book of the Shed
The Ladybird Book of Dating
The Ladybird Book of the Hipster

The Ladybird Book of the Sickie

Jason Hazeley (and others)

THE PERFECT GIFT for hardworking colleagues, who like to pull sickies.
__________________________________

'Lawrence and Ben are enjoying a bout of imaginary food poisoning.

Food poisoning is always good because it's over quickly and nobody likes to hear stories about toilets.'
__________________________________

'When Jesse gets home from a very big party, he phones his manager and leaves a message. Now he does not have to get up early to call in sick.

'Calling the office at 3:07am is exactly what someone with a real cold would do,' Jesse thinks to himself as he falls asleep on his stairs with a kebab for a pillow.'
__________________________________

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

'Hilarious' Stylist

Other new titles for Autumn 2017:
How it Works: The Brother
How it Works: The Sister
The Ladybird Book of the Ex
The Ladybird Book of the Nerd
The Ladybird Book of the New You
The Ladybird Book of Balls
The Ladybird Book of the Big Night Out
The Ladybird Book of the Quiet Night In
People at Work: The Rock Star

Previous titles in the Ladybirds for Grown Ups series:
How it Works: The Husband
How it Works: The Wife
How it Works: The Mum
How it Works: The Dad
The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis
The Ladybird Book of the Hangover
The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness
The Ladybird Book of the Shed
The Ladybird Book of Dating
The Ladybird Book of the Hipster
How it Works: The Student
How it Works: The Cat
How it Works: The Dog
How it Works: The Grandparent
The Ladybird Book of Red Tape
The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door
The Ladybird Book of the Sickie
The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse
The Ladybird Book of the Do-Gooder

How it Works: The Dog

Jason Hazeley (and others)

THE PERFECT GIFT for people who value friendship, uncompromising love, dribble, chewed up furniture and miles and miles of walking to go to the toilet.
__________________________________

'The dog is often called a man's best friend.

Dogs are reliable, loyal and loving, like all best friends.

They also smell like a bobble hat full of corned beef that has been left on a parcel shelf of a locked car for a fortnight during a hot spell. But there are some things you don't mention to a best friend.'
__________________________________

'Once a week, Patsy vacuums up all the dog hair in her house.

When she has finished the sofa she will do the carpets, inside the oven, in the powder tray of the washing machine, between the pages of the book she is reading, and behind the wallpaper.

'How did it get there?' laughs Patsy while coughing up a hair-ball.'
__________________________________

This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books which have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.

The large clear script, the careful choice of words, the frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures all enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope. Featuring original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny, brand new text.

'Hilarious' Stylist

Other new titles for Autumn 2017:
How it Works: The Brother
How it Works: The Sister
The Ladybird Book of the Ex
The Ladybird Book of the Nerd
The Ladybird Book of the New You
The Ladybird Book of Balls
The Ladybird Book of the Big Night Out
The Ladybird Book of the Quiet Night In
People at Work: The Rock Star

Previous titles in the Ladybirds for Grown Ups series:
How it Works: The Husband
How it Works: The Wife
How it Works: The Mum
How it Works: The Dad
The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis
The Ladybird Book of the Hangover
The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness
The Ladybird Book of the Shed
The Ladybird Book of Dating
The Ladybird Book of the Hipster
How it Works: The Student
How it Works: The Cat
How it Works: The Dog
How it Works: The Grandparent
The Ladybird Book of Red Tape
The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door
The Ladybird Book of the Sickie
The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse
The Ladybird Book of the Do-Gooder

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