Thursday, 5 June 2008

Allan and Janet Ahlberg

Very pleased to see that Millie's Grandma's Bookshelf, over at Random Distractions, already contains a copy of Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

The Ahlberg's books formed an important part of my own children's home library when they were very young. Other big favourites here included Peepo! , The Jolly Postman and The Jolly Christmas Postman (indeed, SD#3, who is six and a half, still adores the Jolly Postman books).

From the 1970s until Janet's premature death in 1994, Allan and Janet Ahlberg were one of the most successful author/illustrator teams in the world of children's books. After Janet's death, Allan wrote and privately published a beautiful and very moving account of her life and their work together, Janet's Last Book, which was subsequently published in paperback by Penguin but is now out of print and quite expensive to buy second-hand. (So if you ever see a copy in a charity shop, snap it up quick! ) I have a copy somewhere, but can't lay my hands on it right now.

There's an excellent account of the Ahlbergs' lives and work on the Puffin website , more about Allan's books published since Janet's death at Walker Books, and a good illustrated interview in the Telegraph, which is well worth reading.

Allan - now happily remarried - has recently celebrated his 70th birthday, and was featured in this excellent radio portrait, broadcast earlier this week and available on 'listen again' until 9 June. Highly recommended, even if you're not familiar with his books.

You can hear Allan reading some of his poems on the Children's Poetry Archive.


StuckInABook said...

Oh, how I loved these books as a child - especially The Jolly Postman. What wonderful minds they had, and such a gift.

monix said...

There was a snippet from his presentation on Hay-on-Sky a few days ago. He was talking about Each Peach Pear Plum and how he pottered off to his shed and wrote the words, which took a couple of hours, I think. Janet started working on the illustrations and that took six months. They were paid exactly the same amount!
Wonderful books, Millie and I have such treats to look forward to.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

My children loved these books! I have to get them out for my grandchildren. Thanks for reminding me!

Juliet said...

Simon - I do so wish there had been books like this when I was a child. I had a lot of books compared with many, but the majority of them, looking back, were pretty bland and awful. (In fact, you've just given me an idea for a blog post!)

M - Hay-on-Sky indeed! We often consider writers badly paid for what they do, but artists are supremely undervalued (until they hit the big time) for the amount of time and effot involved in what they create. Lucky for the Ahlbergs that they shared the spoils! I'm ashamed to confess (and I shall be shunned by all right-thinking parents for saying it): I have read the Jolly Postman books SO many times that there have been occasions recently when I have groaned (audibly) when asked by SD#3 to share one of them with her just before bedtime when we're running a bit late. They are NOT books to be hurried. (Grandmas, on the other hand, as well all know, have all the time in the world to read books and delight in upsetting bedtime routines whenever they possibly can!!)

Kristi - welcome and pleased to be of service to your grandchildren! They will love these books too - they are absolutely timeless.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder of these gorgeous books. Peepo!an all-time favourite though with a sad story attached for us. if I decide to tell it I'll let you know.
PS alSo remember another not listed - something like Day and Night??? - no words, just great pictures of a family day e.g. Mum sleeps late, dries hair while tripping over laundry etc - ring any bells with you?

Anonymous said...

The current favourite Ahlberg at my house is "Treasure Hunt". It is one of the later books, and the illustrator is Gillian something. All about a little girl called Tillie and her treasure hunts. Tillie is my daughter's very first literary heroine, and I must say my daughter shares a lot more with Tillie than she ever will with Jane, Elisabeth, Scarlett et al.