I found this book at the Salvation Army the other day. Whenever I go there, the first thing I do is scour the kid's books for Little Golden Books. Every now and then I find a classic or a really old one to add to my collection. The image here isn't of the actual book I bought. I got this picture online, but mine is basically the same. My copy has more of a yellowish-brown background, rather than the blue shade on this one. And mine doesn't have those numbers on the upper-right corner -- mine lists 39-cents as the price. Considering I paid a dime for my copy, I think I could a pretty good deal.
The Friendly Book was written in 1954 by Margaret Wise Brown and originally published by the Western Publishing Company. My copy is a fourth edition by Little Golden Books, published in 1974. It was illustrated by Garth Williams, who also illustrated such classics as Charlotte's Web, Stewart Little, and the Little House books.
What is interesting is that it's due to be re-released in January 2012 as a LGB Classic. If you look at the listing on Amazon here, you'll notice some changes on the cover. These were brought to my attention by someone who gave this book a 1-star review because of the changes. The person mentioned the toy car was missing on the new cover and that the lines were spikier and the characters looked more cartoonish. It's true. Not only did they remove the toy car, but they added the two mice on the bottom left. There's also some sort of bug on the bottom right that's not on the cover of the copy I have. Garth Williams died in 1996. I don't know if this was another rendition of his original work, or if another illustrator has changed it for Little Golden Books Classics.
The person that gave it 1-star also said it makes you wonder how much of the inside illustrations have been changed. I guess I'll have to look for it in January when it comes out because now I'm really curious. To be honest, I don't like it when they change covers like this. I know they do it for most books to make them look more appealing and modern, but it just doesn't seem right. A good example is Ramona the Pest. They've changed that cover so many times, but none of them fit the book like the original because the story was set so long ago. Click here to see the version I read as a kid. To ME, this is what this book should look like, which is funny because this was the 6th edition and printed in 1975. I think the original came out in 1968 and I have no idea what the original looked like. But you know me -- I'm going to search until I find out.