Golidlocks and the most gorgeous book

posted in: Allan Ahlberg, Jessica Ahlberg | 16

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:

  • The Goldberg Variations by Bach. Here’s Glenn Gould playing the opening aria:
  • Goldilocks by Jamie Barnett. With harmony singing, mouth organs and acoustic guitar this is quite lovely to listen to (you can hear it for free here on Jamie’s MySpace page).
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Debbie and Friends (Zooglobble gets it spot on when he says “It’s a big ’70s soft-rock sound that may not be your cup of tea, but I think younger kids will be intrigued by the video
  • Apart from baking buns, other fun activities to get up to alongside reading Goldilocks by Allan Ahlberg and Jessica Ahlberg include:

  • Making your own mini books – perhaps like the pocket library I made in this post, or these really gorgeous matchbox mini books from Man Made, to say nothing of the minibooks Clara Vulliamy has created for Playing by the book.
  • Playing with porridge! Why not be inspired by Imagination Tree’s porridge playdough or Make Do and Friend’s Porridge Sensory Play.
  • Creating your own pop-up book. Using ZooBurst you can create your own online pop up books (registration required, but otherwise free for basic versions), or try this idea from Imagination Soup.

  • 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.

    16 Responses

    1. Stacey

      Oh my goodness! I love all things Ahlberg but hadn’t heard about this title. Just placed an order. Thanks so much for alerting me to it!
      Stacey recently posted..Pictures

    2. Zoe

      Library Mice, it definitely is a beautiful gift book. I shall be giving it as a birthday present in November.

      Thanks Susan – I hope it’s out in Australia.

      • Zoe

        Hi Helen, This book really oozes book-ness in the best possible way and I love that. It appeals to all the senses (well, I haven’t tried eating the book, but it did get me eating!)

      • Zoe

        Katherine – you sound like me! (except I’m not so honest about kidding myself that it’s for the kids 🙂 )

    3. sandhya

      Wow, Zoe! The book sounds wonderful. Read the review at two places in as many days- here and at Kids Book Review- an Australian book review site.

      With our love of re-tellings, these multiple versions of a favourite tale is sure to resonate with the kid. I shall be waiting for this one to become available in India.
      sandhya recently posted..As I contemplate writing my 200th post…

    4. Marjorie (PaperTigers)

      This looks absolutely gorgeous (as do the sticky buns – yum!) It will definitely tick off several pepole on my Christmas list – and I think I’m going to have to buy myself a copy as well (I also ended up with my own copy of both Postman books so I could let the my children enjoy mangling all the inserts without me getting twitchy!)
      Marjorie (PaperTigers) recently posted..PaperTigers is now on Facebook!

    5. Sarah Samways

      What a wonderful book. It’s on the Christmas list for my daughter. She adores The Jolly Postman – hours of fun just taking the letters out, pretending to read them then re posting them to the characters!

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