My early youth was spattered with well-intentioned books from publishers like Newnes and Oldhams illustrating the production processes of familiar household objects. Page after monochrome page was filled with pictures of purposeful men in flat hats and waistcoats turning out scrubbing-brushes, boots, enamel buckets, worsted suits, tea-sets and other essentials. Our 1926 Children’s Encyclopaedia was very good at this, too.
Now, here comes DK with a latter-day equivalent. We get a contemporary take on, for instance, ice cream, ballet shoes, electric guitars, T-shirts and plastic bricks. With abundant colour, fine illustrative photographic sequences, no little humour and an inspired choice of subjects, the – as usual – copious crowd of editors, designers, managers et al, have combined in an unusually (for DK) felicitous way to produce a thoroughly absorbing cracker. As I write this, I rejoice to find that my Berol ‘chemi-sealed’ Newstyle HB has ‘several coats of lacquer on the outside’ but even more that, while serious-looking middle-aged blokes in hairnets make apple juice, comely young lads can mince sausage meat and cheerful grannies put the patterns on pottery.
This book is a sheer joy – share it with someone who’s worked in these jobs and it will become amplified amazingly.