The Goldilocks Variations by Allan Ahlberg, pictures by Jessica Ahlberg
I hope you know The Jolly Postman trilogy of books by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, the first of which was published in 1986 after years of hard work and careful attention to detail. In addition to a thorough knowledge of fairy tales and nursery rhymes, Allan Ahlberg has a way of writing a silly story well. Janet, the artist, had Beatrix Potter's attention to details and way with creating cozy domestic scenes and her own completely charming style when it came to creating a world that readers wanted to visit again and again. Sadly, Janet died at the age of fifty just after completing The Jolly Pocket Postman in 1994. Please read my review of Allan Ahlberg's book of poetry, Everyone Was a Baby Once that also includes a look at the work that Janet and Allan Ahlberg created together as well as books being created by Allan Ahlberg and his daughter Jessica, who is every bit as talented as her mother.
The Jolly Postman, which came out well before I had kids, has always been a special book to me, mostly because of the way that the Ahlbergs take their readers on a bicycle ride through the land of Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes, a favorite place of mine to visit, long before doing so became a popular literary conceit. While I would adore this book even if the pocket pages with removable letters and other goodies were merely printed onto the pages and not interactive, I have to confess that these extra bits make these books all the more special. I tell you all by way of mentioning a secret wish I have harbored since I learned back in 2004 that Jessica Ahlberg was illustrating kid's books: that father and daughter would create another Jolly Postman book or something similar.
And they have! The Goldilocks Variations, or Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the 33 Bears and the Bliim and the Furniture and Lots More Variations is another walk through the woods to the land of fairy tales with detailed, charming illustrations and magnificent paper engineering and even a book-within-a-book (Puss in Boots Productions Presents Goldilocks, the Play) which also is a pop-up book! As with the Jolly Postman books, there is a lot to read. I started reading this to my son at bedtime and he faded out just as the story was drawing to a close. But, it's so fun and filled with fascinating tidbits and it is broken into chapters making it easy to read over a coupe of nights. But, you and your kids will want to get to the end of this story in one reading, I'm sure. Don't miss this charming video in which you actually get a really good look at paper engineering and how everything comes together when making a book with moveable parts!
More from Jessica Ahlberg...
Other books illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg: Toon Tellgen's trilogy of books, The Squirrel's Birthday, Letters to Anyone and Everyone and Far Away Across the Sea (click the author's name for my reviews) and the great nature/science picture book Yucky Worms by Vivian French.