Goldilocks by Allan Ahlberg and Jessica Ahlberg (Walker, £12.99)
That classic saying “There’s no point reinventing the wheel” can’t be often uttered in the Ahlberg household. Remake the infamous tale of a mischievous corn-haired girl who incurs the wrath of a family of bears by foolish breaking into their home and overstaying her welcome? What more could there be to say?
But as we well know, this literary family is blessed with the golden touch when it comes to storytelling. Allan’s impressive back catalogue includes much loved Burglar Bill, The Jolly Postman and Each Peach Pear Plum (beautiful illustrated by late wife Janet) – solid fixtures in many a ‘best-of’ list. Now ably assisted by talented illustrator daughter Jessica, they boldly take Goldilocks and breathe new life into this treasured tale with humourous prose, magical artwork and clever paper engineering.
And that’s just for starters. Having tackled the story we know so well we could recite it in our sleep, the Ahlbergs take off into an entirely new literary realm with a raft of variations on the well-worn theme. Think encounters with 33 bears, alien life forms called Bliims and surreal dancing furniture that has the measure of our cheeky heroine.
There are a few celebrity special guests who swing by to say hello, too. Nursery rhyme stalwarts Mother Goose, the Three Little Pigs and the Seven Dwarfs show up to make Ahlberg’s scenarios increasingly riotous. Indeed, the whole thing is a visual (and verbal) feast of fun, with tabs to pull, flaps to lift, and a whole new intergalactic language to learn. Not a natural linguist? Just remember this phrase: “Who’s been dodderling my spootz?”
Hidden amongst these six stories is a secret treat that children will love – a further, miniature book within a book of Goldilocks The Play, that invites readers to “Marvel at the naughtiness! Gasp at the scariness! Eat the buns!” Told through stage directions and Jessica’s magical soft watercolour artwork, it also contains an exquisite pop-up stage set. All in all, this is a classic book that is made for sharing.
Read more about Allan and Jessica’s inspiration for Goldilocks.