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.