May 28 2011: Flyleaf Design (Little Owl Books, 1960s)

The graphic identity of Penguin Books (created by a 21 year-old named Edward Young in 1936) was so successful in design terms that it inspired not only the many offshoots of the press itself – with such bird-themed imprints as Puffin, Peregrine and Pelican – but clearly led others to think of their own imprints in similar terms. The pattern of repeated owls in the image here, for example, comes from the flyleaf of a small picture book produced by an otherwise obscure Christian publishing firm: Little Owl Books.

While the publication from which it came lacked much of interest, consisting of a virtually incomprehensible retelling of the story of Zacharias (a crooked tax collector who was inspired by meeting Jesus to reform his corrupt ways) in a handful of crude pictures and a few near-random snippets of Scripture, someone at the firm had clearly put some of the care and attention absent from the book itself into the logo and flyleaves. It seems a shame that this rather lovely bit of literary branding didn’t find a more suitable or successful home.

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