Janet LaSalle's Better Living illustrations

When Children Start Dating 1
Cover to When Children Start Dating, illustrated by Janet LaSalle. 1951.

I found two booklets that were part of this "Better Living" series at a flea market several months ago. There were many other booklets in the series, but these two were the only ones worth buying because of the artwork. The name "Janet LaSalle" seemed familiar to me, and when I got back home I realized that I had two books that she had illustrated: Billy's Neighbors and Sound, both of which are featured by Eric in The Retro Kid (thus, I really haven't had the interest in scanning them—maybe later). What I find fascinating about these black & white illustrations is that the look and style are vastly different from the work found in those other books I just mentioned. Whether it may be that the color work was done later (1951, 1952 for the b&w compared with 1957,1962 for the color) and her style evolved, perhaps, I'm not sure—her work in "Billy" and "Sound" is bold and vibrant, with energetic poses and strong use of color. Her characters are looser, more free. Here, she's refined with delicate poses and precise composition. Both styles are excellent—it's a matter of apples & oranges in preference, if you ask me. All it tells me is that Janet had quite a range in styles, and she was highly skilled in whatever style she worked in.

More from When Children Start Dating:
When Children Start Dating 3

When Children Start Dating 5

When Children Start Dating 7

Very angular and stylized linework, Janet's work here features some great thoughtful moments in teenage dating (and children minding their manners in the other booklet). I love her approach to rendering faces as there's just enough emotion through minimal detail. Sign of a great artist.

From Your Children's Manners, 1952:
Your Children's Manners: 1

Your Children's Manners 4

Your Children's Manners 5

There's plenty more that I scanned in (total of 19), and you can see the rest of it HERE.


  1. Once again, you work hard to find design treasures for us to lazy to find them ourselves. Awesome sir, and since i didn't get to comment last tim about the "Growing Towards Peace" book...wow, it's funny but it totally seems familure to what your stuff looks like alot of the time (which I'm not saying is a bad thing), or at least what you post up here on the blog. Tell me I'm wrong, I DARE yah. hah.

  2. Wow! These Janet La Salle drawings are awesome! So simple, yet so effective! They make me laugh, too. The one of the boy tinkering with the radio made me chuckle, especially after reading the caption! Hmmm...that was like me...only I was tinkering with markers and brushes...until I got distracted by boys! haha

    You should really check out The Pipettes...their sound encapsulates this illustration style perfectly!

  3. Ward, long time reader, first time commentor, great blog. The simple style illustrating the innocence of amercian life back then, my have our times have changed. Thanks for sharing your finds, it's inspiring.

  4. forlackofbetter, yeah, I'm drawn toward a particular style, that's for sure and I'll more than likely scan it and put it up here! I do have to say that I was unaware of Janet La Salle's work until after I had formulated my style. But after seeing how she utilized shapes and lines, I can help but be influenced.

    Justin, I thought that you'd like that one with the radio. There's something about that kid that reminds me of you!

    Rob, I always love to hear from a blurker! Thanks for visiting and especially for your comment. It was a simpler time, but rife with problems. It's good to be living in this time now and be able to look back in retrospect.

    Thanks for the comments, guys!

  5. Haha! That's awesome Ward! Maybe it's my penchant for flat-patterned prints?

  6. I love these. Thank you for putting in all the work and sharing.
    (Another "blurker" and I know I'm late; I let Bloglines get away from me last month, and it's all I can do to catch up, but these illustrations are so fun thatI am inspired to comment for the first time, in gratitude.)

  7. Love these illustrations. Just wondering if you can help me? I'm looking for an illustrator who can do this style for some work I'm doing. Do you know of any illustrators who can do this style? Is there a special printing technique use to get the desired effect?
    Thanks in advance for you help.