The Sunshine Book

The Sunshine Book, Helen Federico
A slice of sunshine from the mid-60s: The Sunshine Book by Helen Federico

Now here is a childhood favourite that delivers exactly what you expect. The Sunshine Book, published in 1965 by the aptly named Golden Pleasure Books, is a book about the sun that’s been cut into a (near) circular shape. They had to leave a straight edge for the (now rusty) staples that are still holding it together after almost 50 years.

Today’s kids expect their non-fiction books to boast fold-out flaps, ever more complex pop-ups and other delightful novelties. But the main virtues of The Sunshine Book were that it proved to be both cheap and cheerful – in a good way. What could be more joyful than a series of colourfully rendered scenes about the live-enhancing benefits of sunshine?

The Sunshine Book, Helen Federico

Writer and illustrator Helen Federico makes good use of double-page spreads to remind us of the sun’s power to ripen some unfeasibly large apples, oranges, cherries and pears.

The Sunshine Book, Helen Federico

As a rabbit fan, I loved that image of the bunny peering out from a barrel stuffed with lovely fresh vegetables. No genetically modified produce here!

The Sunshine Book, Helen Federico

These days, a picture of red-headed kid standing on a blazingly hot and sunny beach would raise alarm bells. In the mid-60s, though, a sunny day by the sea signified pleasure rather than danger.

The Sunshine Book, Helen Federico

Helen Federico enjoyed a long career as a painter and illustrator and died in 2012 at the ripe old age of 90.

I don’t know what became of Golden Pleasure Books, but I do know that for at least one child their products were life enhancing. To quote the last page of The Sunshine Book:

Goodnight, sleep tight.
Dream of a happy, sunny day tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “The Sunshine Book

  1. Thanks for the sweet review of my mother’s book – I can’t believe I didn’t see it until today. As with many of her illustrations for kids’ books, cook books and magazines, so many of the ‘props’ were things from our own home. Even the characters: that little girl in The Sunshine Book is me! My sister and I are still going through the enormous body of her and our father’s work, discovering so many projects we never even knew she’d done. We are very happy that her work will be archived at RIT, in the Cary Graphic Arts Collection.

    1. I’m so glad that you liked the post and that the real-life model from one of my favourite books has visited my blog. The Sunshine Book is like a collection of “Kodak moments” that never fails to make me smile. I get the feeling that the same can be said about your mother’s whole body of work. I’ll be keeping a lookout for some of her other work when I’m looking around vintage bookstores. Thanks for the tip about the Cary Graphic Arts Collection!

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