In an age where you can get book apps which literally sing and dance on the device of your choice, I get a very special thrill when I discover a paper-based book which really embraces its physicality and oozes beauty and charm with an certain, unbeatable huggability.
Goldilocks by Allan Ahlberg and Jessica Ahlberg is such a book.
To start with, it’s almost an inch thick. There’s a gorgeous solidity about it; it feels substantial and special. You open the covers and find it has been printed with a lot of love; the pages look and feel like thick watercolour paper, and I’d almost swear that the paint has only just dried on the illustrations in my copy.
Then you start reading Allan Ahlberg’s seven variations on the traditional tale of Goldilocks and the three bears. The stories are delightful, sometimes wacky, always imaginative, and they are finely brought to life through daughter Jessica Ahlberg’s pictures, with a magical sprinkling of pop-ups along the way.
I can’t help but be reminded of The Jolly Postman (by Allan Ahlberg and his late wife). Apart from the family connection, the two books share a playful gorgeousness and both draw readers right into the heart of them, with interactions more powerful (I believe) than a tap on a screen; actually by opening the letters or (the pièce de résistance in my opinion) reading the stage play published as a mini-book within the pages of Goldilocks.
You can get a good flavour of this delicious book in this video of Allan Ahlberg talking to Jessica Ahlberg:
If you’re looking for a book to give as a gift in the next few months this really ought to be very high on your consideration list. I think it’s got all the right ingredients to become one of those books which become treasured down the generations, casting enchantment over all who read it.
One of the features which remains the same in all seven variations is the bears love of sticky buns. We simply couldn’t resist making our own batch of buns to nibble on as we read the book for the umpteenth time.
We used a currant bun recipe and drizzled lemon icing over the top with smarties substituted for cherries. Some of the dough was used to make Bear Buns, with raisins for eyes and noses.
They were pretty delicious. It would appear that not only bears love buns.
Whilst making and baking our buns we listened to:
Apart from baking buns, other fun activities to get up to alongside reading Goldilocks by Allan Ahlberg and Jessica Ahlberg include:
What books do you know which have that very special huggable quality?
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Goldilocks from Walker Books. I was under no obligation to review the book and I received no money for this post.