The Lazy Lion

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 1
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.

The Lazy Lion 2
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 Lazy Lion 3
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.

The Lazy Lion 5
Great poses here and below.

The Lazy Lion 6

The Lazy Lion 7
Ummm....I really shouldn't say anything here, so I won't. Just some unfortunate posing. *ahem...turn page*

The Lazy Lion 8
Great characters here.

The Lazy Lion 9

The Lazy Lion 10
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.


  1. Oh my, he's fantastic! Thanks for sharing these great images. And I too think the age spots add to the charm.

  2. Really cool book brother. I've been coming here for quite some time, but I've never commented before. This blog is a constant inspiration. Thanks for sharing so much.

    joe y elio

  3. Thanks for turning me onto such a great cartoon artist from yesteryear. Totally dig your work and site, too!


  4. Yes! I recognize those pictures!

  5. Great post, great illustrator, brillaint blogging as always.

  6. I had this book, as a child, in Arlington, Va. My younger Sister came across a Ceramic figurine, which somewhat "resembled" this Lion, so I had to look it up. Although it was not the "same" Lion, I had a wonderful time looking at the pictures you had published. Of course, our book had the cardboard cut-outs, and my older Sister and I had a great time playing with it! Thank you for this trip back into my childhood!

  7. UPDATE: Jan Balet died january 31, 2009.
    See: http://todaysinspiration.blogspot.com/2009/02/jan-balets-amos-and-moon-conclusion.html