Friday, June 26, 2020

The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

2002, first published 1986   

Inn 1986 the Ahlbergs bring us here a book that interfaces with characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales. The reader would need to be familiar with Goldilocks and The Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. This is a novelty book and includes envelops with letters to some of these characters. We are given glimpses of real life here. Goldilocks spells badly. The witch who lives in the gingerbread house receives some targeted advertising. Cinderella, having escaped the cruelty of the stepsisters and stepmother is now exposed to the subtleties of the publishing world. Peter Piper is certainly aware of Cinders’ celebrity status and hopes that a book about her will bring in some cash. The wolf receives a solicitor’s letter concerning his behaviour towards Red Riding hood, her grandmother and the three little pigs. There are dark threats as well. Jack’s giant must be aware that there is one bigger and more violent than him around.
Is there a joke for adults there? At each home the postman is offered a beverage. At the palace when he visits Cinderella and the prince he drinks champagne. Is this what makes him jolly?
There are some bright points. The additional material in the pictures offers no threats. The final letter is a birthday card for Goldilocks and everyone enjoys a party at her house.
There are fourteen double spreads. The envelopes containing the letter form one half of some double spreads.
The pictures extend the stories. For instance, we see the cat washing up in the witch’s kitchen. At the palace the prince wears a bright floral shirt and is hoovering. The wolf-grandma is knitting.        
Though this has all of the attributes of a picture book and although it isn’t an emergent reader book it may well be suitable for lower primary school children as they will know these characters and the other types of text may make sense to them.            


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