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The Goldilocks Variations

Posted on Dec 7, 2012

Allan Ahlberg (text) & Jessica Ahlberg (illustrations)
(Walker Books)

We all know what happened to Goldilocks met the three bears and how that story ends. But what happens when she meets a very large family of thirty-three bears, or in the future when she meets some rather friendly looking space aliens? And how about when she meets a lot of other fairy tale characters?

You could be forgiven for thinking that a book full of variations of the same story could be boring, for young audiences particularly. But you would be so wrong in this case. This is such a treasure of a book, a real classic in the making. Allan Ahlberg is such a wonderful storyteller, and there are so many twists, many clever different perspectives, and such great narrative to keep young readers entertained. Goldilocks is a most definitely masterclass in the art of fractured fairy-tales.

Of course, at first glance, it  is hard not to be reminded of books by Allan Ahlberg and his late wife, and mother of Jessica, Janet Ahlberg and more particularly the glorious Jolly Postman books. Goldilocks has the same joyful feel to it. The pages ooze happiness. Jessica Ahlberg’s style is contemporary and very much her own, but it is certainly reminiscent of her mother’s as well: child-friendly, charming, beautifully coloured, and packed full of the tiniest intricate details. The use of great quality paper helps bring the artwork to life. Walker here prove again how much they care about design and making beautiful books. It also shows in the fabulous paper engineering features:  flaps to lift, tabs to pull, and even a pop-up book within the pop-up book! There is such attention to detail, such thought put into drawing the reader right in this is little piece of magic:

One would hope that most households own a copy of The Jolly Postman, or Each Peach Pear Plum,  orPeepo or The Baby Catalogue (or hopefully all of those, as we do). They are part of the staple book diet of a child. It is fair to say that The Goldilocks Variations is well on its way to joining them, ready to be treasured by each new generation that is introduced to it.

This is such a splendidly beautiful and clever book, I cannot recommend it enough.

Here are Allan and Jessica Ahlberg talking about Goldilocks:

 

Source: review copy from publisher

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