In praise of trees

“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.”

Chinese Proverb

The How and Why Wonder Book of Trees. Written by Geoffrey Coe. Illustrated by Cynthia Iliff Koehler and Alvin Koehler. Grosset and Dunlap. New York. 1973.

This was one of the books included in my recent free lot of novels, and is not a novel but The How and Why Wonder Book of Trees, originally published in 1964. My copy is from 1973, and I’m featuring selected images illustrated by Cynthia Iliff Koehler and Alvin Koelher.

Enjoy 🌲🌳🍀🍂🍃🌿🌱🌱🌱

Rear cover. The How and Why Wonder Book of Trees. 1973.

Thank you for appreciating trees with us 🙂

TVTA vintage toy tree bonus:

Family Tree House. De Speelboom N°3. Nov 1987.

More random book cover designs, and a spotlight on British Salvationist illustrator Jim Moss

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. 1999 Harper Collins. Cover by J.R.R. Tolkien.

We have you covered… again!  (See part one here)

Today’s book post features design covers and illustrations published between the 1920s and 2010s, courtesy of a generous donation of old books to TVTA!

What happened was this… an English teacher working in France was moving home and job, and before leaving she decided to give away a number of her old books. Finally, after a Pandemic-lockdown-observed-meeting outside the local park gates, two bags of wonderful books were handed over for the reading and scanning pleasure of those inside TVTA Towers – cue happiness 🙂

Some of the titles will be instantly recognisable, others obscure, some have been adapted for stage, film or television, but all are equal here in having interesting covers to bind their tales.

Enjoy your donated book!

1920 William Heinemann.

Lorna Doone Vol 1. by R.D. Blackmore.

1966 Bantam Books. Cover uncredited.

Donated book TVTA spotlight!

The art of Salvationist illustrator Jim Moss

In Tune with Mutt & Bone by Jim Moss. 96 page paperback published by The Salvation Army, 2002, featuring 185 Jim Moss comic strips.

Luckily, Jim Moss signed all his illustrations ‘Moss’ or ‘M’ in the 1955 edition of Black River – a Salvationist produced novel written by Bernard Watson – making it fairly easy for me to track the artist down.

Jim was born in London in 1926, one of seven children. After serving in India and the Middle East during the Second World War, he studied at the Borough Art School in London for four years, taking his NDD course in Illustration. During his career as an illustrator he designed posters, book jackets, logos, and children’s books. Jim’s long-standing dedication to the Salvation Army saw him design the Bram cartoons which delighted generations of young Salvationists, and in 1987 he devised the Mutt & Bone cartoon series featuring two Salvation Army band musicians.

Image taken from Salvation Army Burton Upon Trent Corps

Mutt & Bone is drawn in a typical cartoon style, so it was interesting to see that Moss could turn his hand to more realistic illustrations, and with a darker tone, as seen by his work in Black River.

Below are the complete chapter illustrations from Black River. Moss goes uncredited but it is clearly his work, as identified by his signature and his association with the Salvation Army.

About Jim Moss

Author information from Amazon Books page for the 2002 book In Tune with Mutt & Bone states:

Jim Moss was born in London in 1926, one of seven children. In 1939, as war broke out, the family became scattered evacuees and 13-year-old Jim, with brother Pete, travelled to Reading, where they were billeted. Sent out of the house in all weathers, Jim and his brother one day took refuge in the Reading East Salvation Army hall opposite their billet. They were warmly welcomed and, said Jim, ‘great tolerance’ was shown as he struggled to play E flat bass in the young people’s band. Jim was in the military for four years during and just after the Second World War, serving in India and the Middle East. When demobbed, he was given a wonderful opportunity to study at the Borough Art School in London for four years, taking his NDD course in Illustration. His wide range of hand-skills enabled him to use many different kinds of medium – from pencil, pen and ink to scraperboard – to complete the brief and get the message across. He often said, ‘It’s not the drawing that’s the problem, it’s finding an original idea! After a long, exciting career designing posters, book jackets, logos, children’s books for many different clients, as well as the Bram cartoons which delighted generations of young Salvationists, in 1987 Jim devised the Mutt & Bone cartoon series. Jim was, in the Salvation Army phrase, ‘promoted to Glory’ in July 2001 and this book is an affectionate memorial to a well-loved figure who has helped The Salvation Army both look and laugh and sometimes ponder! Just as Jim would have wished, had he lived to see Mutt & Bone in book form, all profits from this book are being donated to The Salvation Army’s Ethembeni Children’s Home, Southern Africa, for the caring ministry of its HIV/Aids clinic.

Thank you for looking at book covers and illustrations with us 🙂

All images scanned from donated books to TVTA.

Chip Kidd quote art courtesy of

Some random book cover designs

Tobermory and other stories. Saki. 1998. Cover Diana Ong / SuperStock.

Continue reading

Happy New Yeats! Party like it’s 1999, in 1962!

Prince Magazine Special. 1985. Australia.

Happy new year vintage mates! Sorry we’re late and sorry we got the wrong year, but Wooof and I just got back from time travelling in 1982 watching Prince recording 1999, then we got lost in 1962 and found a cool book of poetry from W.B. Yeats, and then we got tangled up in a vintage space war between aliens and robots disputing a 3 billion year old moon made of chedder cheese and denim!

Continue reading

Homework assignment: building a better robot

We can do it!

Gerry Anderson Andromedan Warbot. 1979. UK.

Starlog Japan. 1981. Maximilian.

Continue reading

Chapter 29

“Write drunk, edit sober.” Ernest Hemingway.

Of course, many believe that Hemingway never actually said this. It’s more likely that he wouldn’t let anything interfere with his writing, and that includes a hangover. But in the spirit of romance, we surf on those words.

A votre santé!

Annuals adverts

Annuals are hardback anthologies published once a year, usually in time for the Christmas market. Annuals consist of multi comic stories, either new or republished, featuring characters normally seen in their weekly or monthly editions. Puzzle pages, features, profiles, facts and content not always seen in regular format may also feature in annuals. Below is a selection of annual adverts featuring some of the biggest names from TV and comics.

UK. Return Of The Jedi 31. 1984.

Popular annuals of 1984. UK. Return Of The Jedi. 1984.

Star Trek et Warlord annuals. Blue Beetle. 1986. US.

UK. Eagle. 1984.

Advert for the 1985 Battle Action Force annual. UK. Eagle. 1984.

UK. 2000 AD. 44. 1977. Advert for the 1978 edition 2000AD annual.

UK. 2000 AD. 44. 1977. Advert for the 1978 edition 2000 AD annual.

Advert for the 1983 Eagle annual. Eagle. 1982.

Advert for the 1983 Eagle annual. Eagle. 1982.

Advert for the 1984 Eagle annual. Eagle. 1983.

Advert for the 1984 Eagle annual. Eagle. 1983.


‘Is not the deprivation of liberty the deepest, severest of injuries?’… the lost poem of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley. Portrait by Alfred Clint.

Percy Bysshe Shelley. Portrait by Alfred Clint.

The Bodleian Library has just acquired its 12 millionth book. Written by the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and printed in 1811 under the alias of “a gentleman of the University of Oxford”, the Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things is a 172-line poem written in support of the Irish journalist Peter Finnerty who was jailed for libelling a politician. The ‘lost’ poem was discovered in 2006 and has now been acquired by the Bodleian library which has created a full digital copy available free to the public to read. See the link above.


What may strike you when you read this poem is how little things have changed since the time of Shelley’s sentiments. The pointlessness and brutality of war, the oppression of the poor at the hands of the rich and priviliged, issues surrounding freedom of the press – themes as relevant today as they were back in the 19th century to Shelley.

I would like to say a big thanks to Shelley! Thank you for speaking up back then. You didn’t have to do this, but you found somewhere inside your spirit the voice to call out injustice and inhumanity. It’s a depressing realisation that little has changed for the better across two-hundred years, but I do draw some comfort that there will always be others like Shelley – and not necessarily just the poets or artists or actors or musician, but those who will continue to call out the corrupt politicians and rulers who consistantly try to prove to us that humanity must always come second to greed.

Note to the ruling class: you with palms greasy from money, or bloody from the sales of arms, many of us can see through your lies, and the petal-thin fabric of all your false charms.

Note to the poets, artists, actors and musicians and anyone with an amplified voice: please continue to speak out against social injustice. You are placed in unique positions, and people will listen.

1983 Star Wars Bookmarks by Random House

This Return of the Jedi bookmark set, made by Random House in 1983, is one of my favourite collectables and manages to tick three themes I love: Star Wars, books and art. I think the stylish artwork on this full set has a certain art nouveau element as well as comic book style. I’ve tried to research the artist(s) responsible but have had no luck and can only guess it was done by in-house artists employed by Random House – one of the largest trade book publishers in the world.

ROTJ Bookmark set 16. Random House. 1983 001

ROTJ Bookmark set 16. Random House. 1983 002

ROTJ Bookmark set 16. Random House. 1983 003

ROTJ Bookmark set 16. Random House. 1983 004

ROTJ Bookmark set 16. Random House. 1983 005

ROTJ Bookmark set 16. Random House. 1983 006