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The Laidlaw Reading Program

Contributed by Elizabeth Goodspeed on Jun 13th, 2020. Artwork published in .
    The Laidlaw Reading Program 1
    Source: https://www.flickr.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Cover art using Lazybones from “The Laidlaw Reading Program” series, primarily published between the early 1970s and early 80s. Each hardcover book seen here was paired with an accompanying paperback workbook where students would answer questions, complete rhymes, alphabetize lists, and write sentences. Written by Kathleen B. Hester and William Eller.

    The Laidlaw Reading Program 2
    Source: https://www.abebooks.com License: All Rights Reserved.
    The Laidlaw Reading Program 3
    Source: https://www.amazon.in License: All Rights Reserved.
    The Laidlaw Reading Program 4
    Photo: Elizabeth Goodspeed. License: All Rights Reserved.

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    3 Comments on “The Laidlaw Reading Program”

    1. A beautiful series! Thanks for your contribution, Elizabeth.

      The Internet Archive has digitized copies of several books from this series; Whispering Ghosts (1976), Blue-Tailed Horse (1980), Toothless Dragon (1980), and Tricky Troll (1980). In all these volumes, the imprint credits Gloria Muczynski as art director and Donald Charles for the cover art.

      There’s one detail that caught my eye: In the cover of Runaway Monkey, the letter y doesn’t match the one in Lazybones. This typeface’s glyph set includes an alternate t and a Th ligature, but no such y. This letterform was custom made, apparently by replacing its descender with one taken from f or p. Keep in mind that Lazybones was a Letraset face made for rub-down lettering, where such modifications with repurposed letter parts were relatively easy. When you look closely at the y in “Runaway”, you can spot a little notch at the right.

      Glyph set of Lazybones. Scan by Office of AIR.

      The y in Lazybones is special in that its descender curves to the right, almost like an upside-down h. I assume that this form was deemed too unconventional for a series aimed at early readers. I checked other titles that include a y, and indeed there’s a method to this. The y has always been customized, here with descenders borrowed from j or g, respectively.


      Donald Charles is also the author of the Calico Cat series which likewise uses Lazybones for the covers. And guess what? Time to rhyme with Calico Cat (Children’s Press, 1978) again shows such a “corrected” y.

    2. According to a Daylight Fonts page, the designer of the Lazybones typeface is Viktor Kharyk.

    3. That’s not correct, or only indirectly. Lazybones is credited to the Letraset Studio, 1972. I assume the reason that nobody claimed individual credit is that it’s not the most original design, and very likely patterned after the bold weight of West Cooper Nouveau Swash by Photo-Lettering (before 1965) which was quite popular at the time, see this comparison.

      Viktor Kharyk was not a member of the Letraset Studio. In 1972, he was still a student in Kiev, Ukraine. According to Luc Devroye, he made a Cyrillic extension of Lazybones sometime in the 1980s. I don’t know if and where it was released. I’m not aware of such a version that is digitally available.

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