Thursday, January 26, 2012

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

Previously, by Allan Ahlberg, 28 pages.

If you think that you know fairy tales such as CinderellaThe Frog Prince, and Jack and the Beanstalk inside and out, think again! You really don’t know them from the very beginning until you’ve read Allan Ahlberg’s new picture book, Previously –a hilarious “romp” which takes the reader backwards through some of our most familiar and beloved fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
What was Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk) doing before his mother sent him to the market to sell the family cow? Well, he and his little sister, Jill, were climbing up and down a hill with a pail of water – which, as you know, was spilled when they fell. Why did they fall? Here’s the answer – they were too busy arguing over who had to carry that heavy pail of water.
Before their expedition up and down the hill that morning, Jack and Jill were sitting at the table eating breakfast (and arguing over who would claim the prize in the box of cornflakes) when The Frog Prince jumped onto the windowsill and gazed sadly at them. He was still unhappy at being transformed into a frog, having once been a handsome prince in love with a beautiful girl – none other than Cinderella.
Previously that day, Cinderella had met the Gingerbread Boy on the path as he was gleefully escaping from a little old man, a little old woman, a cow, a horse, a butcher, a baker, a group of children and a wily fox.
And so on.
As Allan Ahlberg’s imaginative picture book for children so cleverly reveals, there’s a beginning, or a “previously”, to every story!
** Recommended for ages 4 to 7 years of age.
The Three Billy Goats Fluff, by Rachael Mortimer, 30 pages.

When Troll moved in under the bridge, he wasn’t expecting a family of goats to be trip-tripping noisily over “his” bridge every day.
But that’s exactly what happened each day when the Billy Goats Fluff crossed the wooden bridge from their home on one side to eat the lush pasture grass on the other side. Trip-trap! Trip-trap! How was Troll supposed to sleep? How was he supposed to concentrate?
One day Troll had had enough. When Littlest Billy Goat Fluff appeared at the bridge, he heard an angry roar. “I’m a Troll with a very sore head. Stop trip-trapping over my bed! When I’m tired and feeling blue, there’s nothing quite like LITTLE GOAT STEW!”     
Just then, Middle-Sized Billy Goat Fluff approached and was greeted with, “I’m a Troll in a very bad mood. Waking me up is terribly rude! Middle-sized goat makes a LOVELY ROAST, or tasty pate upon my toast!”
The goats raced back home to Mother Goat, too scared to cross the bridge. “We’re telling our mom on you!” they shouted.
When Mother Goat heard their tale of woe, she didn’t march straight to Troll to yell at him. She didn’t panic either. Instead, she thought … and thought some more. (After all, Mother Goat could sympathize with Troll’s lack of sleep – Littlest Billy Goat still woke her up every night!)
It wasn’t long before Mother Goat, as she sat knitting some slippers and earmuffs from the finest billy goat fluff, came up with an inventive idea that made everyone, including Troll, happy and warm - and well-rested, too!
Rachael Mortimer’s entertaining retelling of the traditional story is complemented perfectly by the comical and colourful illustrations of illustrator Liz Pichon.
** Recommended for ages 4 to 7 years of age.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on January 26, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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