When you study the pre-1990 Little People books, you'll notice that there were at least two distinct styles of art, one made the Little People look more like the actual toys, and the other made the Little People appear a bit more "realistic." The change to a more "realistic" style seemed to occur after 1987, regardless of the artist. For example, look at illustrations on the two coloring book covers below done by the same artist. The one on the left from 1986 shows the Little People as being very straight, roundish, and upright with facial features almost identical to the actual toys. Aside from the added arms and legs, they basically look like our favorite vintage toys that we all know and love. The one on the right from 1987, however, is a bit different. The Little People have bodies that are more human shaped and not as straight and roundish. While the similarity to the vintage Little People is still obviously there, they now have a distinct look as cartoons and no longer look like toys that have simply sprouted arms and legs.

Even among the Shape Books, drawing styles of the artist changed with the change of the year. Look at the difference between the artwork in Meet Timmy of 1986 and the artwork in Meet Lucky of 1987, pictured below.

The Blue Mom's appearance seemed to change the most dramatically with the new style in 1987. Once again, two illustartions by the same artist are shown below. The illustration on the left from a 1986 book looks remarkably like the actual toy, especially in facial detail. The illustration from a 1987 book on the right shows how the Blue Mom changed significantly. Aside from the blonde hair and blue dress, there is really nothing about her appearmce that resembles the actual toy.

Apparently in 1987, a decision was made to draw the Little People more like actual cartoon figures and less like toys.

So, which one was better? That is a matter of opinion. Personally, I prefer the earlier drawings of the Little People that looked more like the actual toys. However, many excellent Little People stories were done in the later style and it definitely retained the spirit of the Play Family Little People and Fisher Price. Ultimately, I am thankful for any Little People books and stories that were made during their vintage era in any style.