Saturday, August 29, 2009

Children's Authors - Allan (& Janet) Ahlberg

Allan & Janet Ahlberg, a married author-illustrator team, produced some beautiful books together in the 1970s & 80s, which continue to be popular with children and parents today.

The two we know and love are Peepo and Each Peach Pear Plum.

Peepo, a book for babies, plays on the idea of I Spy, with each page showing a baby at different points throughout the day and what he sees:
Here's a little baby
One, two, three,
Stands in his cot
What does he see? PEEPO! (turn the page)

He sees his father sleeping
In the big brass bed
And his mother too
With a hairnet on her head.
He see the shadows moving
On the bedroom wall
And the sun at the window
And his teddy
and his ball.
It is just delightful, the rhythm of the words fit perfectly and the illustrations are beautiful and full of detail. They are set in post-war Britain (in fact, Allan has stated that he is the Peepo baby - it is based on his childhood)*. As time goes on, some of the features of the illustrations are harder to relate to (eg - "his father in the doorway, with a bucketful of coal"), but babies and toddlers will never know. We only discovered this book with our second when she was a baby and I bought it when we had Miss 2 - we read it all the time, and she says "Peepo" in all the right places! I think this is my favourite baby book.

Even more closely linked to I Spy is Each Peach Pear Plum. Here they have taken all of the nursery rhyme characters and put them together in one book, and from page to page you have to find the next character:
Each Peach Pear Plum
I spy Tom Thumb. (over page)

Tom Thumb in the cupboard
I spy Mother Hubbard

Again the illustrations are beautiful and you can have fun finding the person hiding in each picture.

Great books.

* From the Penguin books website


Ruth said...

Peepo is one of my favourite children's books - because I find the historical setting interesting, and the pictures quaintly reminding me of yester-year (not that I was alive then!). I enjoy discussing it with my older kids, as well as reading it with the younger ones. All my kids have loved it, and still request it.

Allan has written a series of short chapter books for older kids about people in a town - .. will track down the names of them if you like - which my older boys really enjoy. It has really helped 'B' with his reading, and 'C' is starting to read them aloud to us now too.

Wendy said...

If it's easy to find the names Ruth, that would be great, otherwise I can search at the library...


Ruth said...

Some of the books in the series were 'Mrs Wobble the waitress'; ;Mr Plug the Plumber'; Mr Biff the Boxer; Mr Buzz the Beeman; Master Salt the sailor's son; Mr & Mrs Hay the Horse - which is one of my favourites.

They are not chapter books, I was wrong, but they are fun reading books for early readers. 'B' loved them, and now 'C' is enjoying them very much. There are quite a few in the series, and in some of the books, the characters overlap, which is cute.