I-Spy (Michelin)

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The I-SPY books are spotters' guides written for British children, and particularly successful in the 1950s and 1960s in their original form and again when relaunched by Michelin in 2009 after a seven-year gap in publishing.

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The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.



The I-SPY books are a series of around forty small volumes that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies each, totalling sales of 25 million worldwide by 2010. [1] Each book in the I-Spy series covers a different subject, such as I-SPY Cars, I-SPY on the Pavement, I-SPY Churches, I-SPY on a Train Journey, and so on. As children spot the objects listed, they record the event in the book and gain points, varying according to how unusual the sight. In the early years of the series, completed books could be sent to Charles Warrell, (known as Big Chief I-SPY) for a feather and order of merit. The children participating in the game were known as The I-SPY Tribe, and by 1953 the I-SPY Tribe had half a million members. [1]

Charles Warrell was an English schoolteacher, and creator of the I-Spy books, a series of spotters' guides written for British children and first published in 1949. In his role as creator and publisher of the books, Warrell was known pseudonymously as Big Chief I-Spy.

History of the series

The company was supposedly run by a Red Indian chief called Big Chief I-Spy. The original Big Chief I-Spy was Charles Warrell, a former head master who created I-Spy towards the end of his working life. He retired in 1956, but lived until 1995 when he died at the age of 106. [1] After Warrell's retirement his assistant Arnold Cawthrow became the second Big Chief, and served in this role until 1978. For part of this time he also worked as an antiques dealer in Islington. He died in 1993, and is commemorated by a stone plaque placed on the outside of the Boatmen's Rooms, the house where he spent some of his last years in Deal, Kent.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

Islington Area of London

Islington is a district in Greater London, England, and part of the London Borough of Islington. It is a mainly residential district of Inner London, extending from Islington's High Street to Highbury Fields, encompassing the area around the busy High Street, Upper Street, Essex Road, and Southgate Road to the east.

Deal, Kent town in Kent, England

Deal is a town in Kent, England, which lies on the border of the North Sea and the English Channel, eight miles north-east of Dover and eight miles south of Ramsgate. It is a former fishing, mining and garrison town. Close to Deal is Walmer, a possible location for Julius Caesar's first arrival in Britain.

The books were originally self-published in 1948 [2] by Charles Warrell but, after a brief period when they were published by the Daily Mail (the initial four being At the Circus, Secret Codes, Dogs and In the Country), they were taken over by the now defunct News Chronicle newspaper and based in the paper's building in Bouverie Street. [3] The regular I-SPY column, which appeared in the News Chronicle, reverted to the Daily Mail when the News Chronicle ceased publication, and continued to appear until the late 1980s. The books have had various publishers over the years including the Dickens Press, a company set up to continue the book publishing interests of the 'News Chronicle', and Polystyle Publications, a publisher of children's comics.

The News Chronicle was a British daily newspaper. It ceased publication on 17 October 1960, being absorbed into the Daily Mail. Its offices were in Bouverie Street, off Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 8DP, England.

Polystyle Publications Ltd was a British publisher of children's comics and books. Incorporated on 12 May 1960, the company was dissolved in 1997 due to insolvency.

The books became very popular, with print runs well into six figures. Big Chief I-Spy had a succession of assistants, usually known as "Hawkeye". In the early 1970s, this position was held by Ralph Mills. Earlier assistants included Max Heinz and John Tagholm. In the 1980s, following a short-lived third Big Chief, Robin Tucek, David Bellamy replaced Big Chief I-Spy as the person to whom completed books were sent, and the earlier Red Indian connections were quietly dropped.

David Bellamy English professor, botanist, author, broadcaster and environmental campaigner

David James Bellamy is an English author, broadcaster, environmental campaigner and botanist. He has lived in County Durham since 1960.

Michelin Travel Publications acquired and published the series from 1991 until 2002 when they effectively ceased publication, there were ad-hoc sales after that date to clear stocks.

Michelin French tire company

Michelin is a French tyre manufacturer based in Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne région of France. It is the second largest tyre manufacturer in the world after Bridgestone and larger than both Goodyear and Continental. In addition to the Michelin brand, it also owns the BFGoodrich, Kleber, Tigar, Riken, Kormoran and Uniroyal tyre brands. Michelin is also notable for its Red and Green travel guides, its roadmaps, the Michelin stars that the Red Guide awards to restaurants for their cooking, and for its company mascot Bibendum, colloquially known as the Michelin Man.

I-Spy books were relaunched by Michelin Travel Publications on Monday 7 December 2009, with 12 new titles and a further 12 in Spring 2010. The Bookseller announced the new launch in its 9 October 2009 issue with an interview with Michelin Commercial Director Ian Murray. [4] Mr Murray confirmed that the initial 12 titles will include I Spy Birds, Cars, Trees, On a Car Journey and On a Train Journey. The new I-Spy titles are faithful to the original concept but are fully updated and include all new colour images.

The relaunch of the books and subsequent multiple expansions of the title list suggested that their popularity is being enjoyed by a new generation of children.

News Chronicle Series

I-Spy 6d Series

These followed the same basic format as the early spotter books, as well as keeping the concept of a Big Chief I-Spy, but were issued in a more standard ‘portrait’ format 4” by 5” (13cm by 10cm). Pocket sized, with thinner covers, each I-Spy title had fifty pages or so of pen drawings and descriptive text. The Daily Mail dropped their involvement after the previous spotterbook series, and the new look books were launched in conjunction with The News Chronicle newspaper around 1951. By 1952 the first six of the new titles were in print, with four more planned. The series was in print until 1966, with older titles refreshed every so often and updated.

The News Chronicle was taken over by The Daily Mail in 1960 and closed, but the I-SPY books were by now so popular that The Daily Mail decided to re-associate themselves with the publication once more. The covers were redesigned to remove the News Chronicle name but The Daily Mail logo was only seen inside the books. Around 1963 even this was removed and the titles were simply published by The Dickens Press (who printed The Mail). With all these changes, up to five distinct editions of some titles exist.

I-Spy Colour Series

A companion range of 1/- books, the I-Spy Colour Series was the same size and actually had the same number of pages as their 6d cousins, but used better, thicker quality paper and some inside pages in full colour. Launched probably in 1952 with the first two titles, the colour series issued two new titles each year for a while. The colour books were all natural history subjects and the aim seems to have been to emulate similar but more expensive offerings from publishers like Ladybird and Observers. Eight titles were issued with the News Chronicle name, and only with the last did they move into more familiar I-Spy territory with In The Garden. When the News Chronicle closed, four further colour titles followed under the Dickens Press name. These were new editions of titles which had originally appeared in the 6d black and white series but been discontinued. The last title came out in 1963 and the 12 books were never numbered. The listing below is the order in which the titles were released. The covers of some of the titles were later updated, and then appeared without the News Chronicle logo.

I-Spy Super Series

A larger format launched around 1965 that was very short lived.

The Dickens Press / Polystyle Publications Limited / Ravette Limited

Published from 1967 to 1982. The 1974 price was 12p.

I-Spy with David Bellamy

Published from 1983 to 1985.

Michelin titles

There are now 37 individual titles and three boxed sets (one of which is made up of 70 individual cards) published by Michelin.

Michelin's initial 12 titles after the series relaunch in December 2009

Titles published in May 2010

Titles published in April 2011

Titles published in Summer 2011

Boxed sets published in November 2011

I-SPY for Grown Ups

Spoof series released by HarperCollins in 2016.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "Big Chief I-Spy's Legacy in 2010". BBC News Online. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  2. I-SPY SPOTTERBOOKS 1948 series, Easy on the Eye. Retrieved on 4 October 2018.
  3. I-SPY (Daily Mail; News Chronicle; Michelin; etc.) - Book Series List, publishinghistory.com. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  4. Felicity Wood (9 October 2009), Michelin spots series and gets to play I-Spy again, The Bookseller