I completely forgot I had this book, but you can thank Leif Peng for sparking my memory. This past week, Leif focused on the work of the great Jan Balet, an inspiring illustrator who did some marvelous work in magazines and books throughout most of the mid-20th century. There's not much out there about the artist, but Leif has been able to acquire enough details to get a pretty good grasp of his brilliant career. (And I find it interesting that since there's no account of his death that it's possible that he could be still alive at the ripe old age of 95.) Balet's range was amazing, and the length of his career is testament to that.
The Lazy Lion; story by Helen Wing, pictures by Jan. B. Balet. Published by Rand McNally. First printing 1953.
The Lazy Lion was this inconspicuous book almost overlooked by me in some forgotten antique market bookshelf, mainly because of a bland cover (no dustjacket). But imagine my surprise when I opened it and found some fantastic work by Mr. Balet! I was already aware of his work from a few advertisements in various women's magazines -- this was my first encounter of any of his children's book work. Love his whimsical style and fun characters. I'll say it again, I love it.
The book wasn't in the best of condition, with some staining throughout the pages, but I decided not to photoshop them out. Would've taken too long, plus, it kinda looks neat. None of the artwork is affected. At least, not too much.
Sorry, but no 'slottie toys' were to be found in the back of the book (see below). Already cut out and put together by some lucky child. Probably long forgotten and thrown away by the parents when their kids' grew up. Oh well.
The book was bound too tightly in the spine, so we lose some of the artwork in the gutter there. I tried my best to get as much of it as possible.
Great poses here and below.
Ummm....I really shouldn't say anything here, so I won't. Just some unfortunate posing. *ahem...turn page*
Great characters here.
Here's what the 'slottie toys' consisted of. Too bad they were torn out. It would've been fun to reconstruct these guys. (And yes, I totally would've torn them out to make 'em! I'm not some freaky collector who would rather keep all his toys in their original plastic boxes! At least, I don't think I would.)
Click here to view these images from The Lazy Lion in a Flickr set.
Leif's Jan Balet Flickr set.
Jan Balet on Today's Inspiration.