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Terry Wogan Reads Janet And John - The Birthday Party
Janet and John get a makeover for twenty-first century
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Janet and John is the title of a series of early reading books for children, originally published in the UK by James Nisbet and Co in four volumes in — It was one of the first series making use of the "look and say" approach to early reading. Further books were added later, and the series became hugely popular in the s and 60s, both in the UK and in New Zealand. By the s the books were considered to be outdated, and several updated versions were issued. Facsimiles of two of the original volumes were reprinted in to cater for the nostalgia market. The first volumes of the —50 Janet and John series were simply called Books One to Four  and presented, using limited vocabulary, incidents from the daily life of a brother and sister.
In fact, Janet and John, two of the best-known characters in English literature, have been missing for around 25 years now. This month, however, they are to make a triumphant return to nursery bookshelves. The children's publisher Star Kids is launching a fresh series of Janet and John stories which have been specially designed for the modern parent to read to their children. The two clean-cut stars of the original reading books are still there, but they have been updated for today's world. In the new books, which have been written jointly by a Cambridge University educationalist and a reception class teacher, the naive duo are brought back to tread a cautious path through the many cultural and technological influences that surround twenty-first century infants. Janet and John are still both white, but they will have some black friends. What is more, their smart casual clothes and executive haircuts have been swapped for a far less formal look.
Janet and John look-alikes enjoyed the new versions. Modernised versions of the educational children's books, Janet and John, are being re-published after 25 years to reflect life in the 21st century. The books were a popular way to help children learn to read in the s, s and early s, but were later criticised as stereotypical, sexist and outdated and fell out of use. The new-look books will feature black as well as white characters. The former books were dismissed in the mids as out-of-date. The new John sports trendy baggy trousers and Janet wears hiking boots. Modern-day Janet and John look-alikes launched the new series.