I spent a few days in Kent last week seeing my old schoolfriend Sharry. The trip was mainly to do with my forthcoming bridesmaidly duties, but Sharry was lovely enough to give me my fix of charity shops, in Maidstone. The very last one we went in - and nearly didn't because at first - it seemed to be a furniture-only shop - turned up this gem of a book, Seeing London, written and illustrated by Dale Maxey, printed in 1966.
I always look at the kids' books in charity shops to see if there are any by my favourite illustrators (Janet and Allan Ahlberg, Jill Barklem's Brambly Hedge books) or that just catch my eye. This was only 50p, AND has a sort-of bus on the front cover, so I just grabbed it without much flicking through it! But when we got home, and I starting looking at it properly, I got more and more excited...
It's a children's guide to London, with wonderful illustrations, hand-drawn maps and lovely writing, describing six different excursions you could take from Trafalgar Square on a big red doubledecker bus, to museums, galleries and landmarks where you don't need to be with an adult to get in (you can tell it's 40 years old!). Maxey says that London's buses remind him of elephants, "lumbering along through the mist that often seems to shroud the city", and this theme runs through the illustrations.
The covers and endpapers are in full colour but most of the illustrations are in just black and white, sometimes with red accents. There are two full colour maps of London (click on them for larger versions)...
... and several monochrome ones, labelled with the various places visited in each excursion:
The pictures are bursting with life and good humour. Just look at this one, enticing you to take a dip in the Serpentine Lido. I love the girl holding her nose as she goes under the water - especially the way her hair and the skirt on her swimming costume are flying up!
I couldn't find a biog of Dale Maxey online, but he seems to have concentrated on children's books, including illustrations for an edition of Edward Lear's The Owl & The Pussycat.
You can find Dale Maxey images on Google. I'll carry on scanning in this book and put my images in a Dale Maxey set on Flickr, and set up a Dale Maxey group, see if anyone bites. Ateeeeeeeeeeen'shun!!!
19.03.2014 - edited to add: For more info on the work of Dale and Betty Maxey, read this lovely post on the Fishink blog: http://fishinkblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/dale-maxey-illustrator-from-the-1950s