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Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg - Author

About the Author

Allan Ahlberg was born in Croydon in 1938, but grew up in Oldbury, near Birmingham. From the age of twelve, his dream was to be a writer. Before he fulfilled his ambition, he tried his hand at a variety of other jobs including postman, grave digger, plumber's mate and teacher.

Janet Hall was born in 1944 and spent her childhood years in Leicester. She went to Sunderland to train to be a teacher. Allan Ahlberg had enrolled on the same course.

They married in 1969. Janet decided against teaching as a career and turned instead to graphic design. While Allan worked full time as a teacher, Janet's first work was published. She began urging Allan to write a text for her to illustrate. Hard though it is to believe, their submissions to publishers were met with rejection slips. Then, in one week, Penguin took The Old Joke Book, A & C Black took The Vanishment of Thomas Tull and Heinemann took Burglar Bill. The Ahlbergs had arrived and there would be no looking back. In 1978, Janet's artwork for Each Peach Pear Plum won her the Kate Greenaway Medal. The following year there were celebrations for an altogether different reason - the Ahlbergs' daughter, Jessica, was born.

By the 1980s, the Ahlbergs were big news, not just in Britain but all around the world. Their books were translated into twenty-one languages - from Catalan to Finnish; from Hebrew to Japanese. But it was The Jolly Postman, published in 1986, that brought Janet and Allan their greatest success. The book was five years in the making but the effort paid off with awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal and the Emil/Kurt Maschler Award, and sales of over five Million copies worldwide for The Jolly Postman and its successors, The Jolly Christmas Postman and The Jolly Pocket Postman.

Influences

Janet and Allan Ahlberg fashioned their books from familiar ingredients: from folk and nursery tales; from the surrounding and activities of family life; from their own memories. Both Janet and Allan retained strong memories of growing up during the 1940's and 1950's. The affectionate references to that era in books like Peepo! and The Bear Nobody Wanted were not simply drawn from memory but meticulously researched. Janet Ahlberg was a collector of artefacts, from paintings to teapots to mechanical toys. As children, both Janet and Allan loved reading comics. Janet's favourite books included Rupert Bear, Winnie the Pooh and The Famous Five. Books were more of a rarity in Allan's childhood, although he does remember one very special story, The Bear Nobody Wanted!

Allan's stories and Janet's pictures demonstrate their ability to view the world through a child's eyes. In Allan's case, this perspective was sharpened by his years as a teacher. The couple's daughter, Jessica, helped to inspire some of the Ahlbergs' most successful books. Her passion for the Mothercare catalogue was one of the seeds for The Baby's Catalogue. A few years later, Allan watched a slightly older Jessica play with a stack of envelopes and he began to evolve The Jolly Postman.

A Special Way of Working

Allan once joked that it took him a day to do the words for a book and Janet six months to do the pictures, but this is to diminish the extent of his involvement. Generally, the initial idea for a book would be his, but he would quickly begin the process of 'playing table tennis' with Janet.

Often, Allan would pass visual suggestions and pictorial jokes on to Janet. Sometimes, he would provide her with a complete layout. Then it was Janet's turn to assess the book in its entirety; the balance and rhythm of words and pictures, pages and spreads. Janet would then produce detailed layouts and dummies to prove to herself, Allan and their publishers that the idea worked. Janet also often undertook detailed research for her illustrations. This might involve visiting a school to sketch children for Starting School, taking photographs for landscapes for Bye Bye Baby or referring to a 1939 Army and Navy Stores' catalogue for Peepo!

Allan once said that 'it is vital to be aware of the book as a physical, bound object - that you hold, with pages that turn'. Both he and Janet remained involved throughout the publishing process - overseeing everything from type size and binding through to cover layout and paper quality. The result of their involvement is books that really work for their intended audience in every way.

What Makes Janet and Allan Ahlberg So Special?

Janet and Allan Ahlberg are two of the most important names in children's publishing.

'The Ahlbergs belong with A. A. Milne and Lewis Caroll, to the greatest tradition of British children's books, having the kind of genius that can dominate an era' - Sunday Times

Featured books by Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg

Other books by Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg

Funnybones

Funnybones

Author: Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/09/2017

This is how the story begins. On a dark dark hill there was a dark dark town. In the dark dark town there was a dark dark street . . . This new edition of the classic story includes an accompanying CD, featuring the story read by acclaimed comic actor Stephen Mangan. Janet and Allan's frightfully funny Hallowe'en classic tells the story of three skeletons - a big skeleton, a little skeleton and a dog skeleton - who venture out of their cellar one night to find someone to scare, only to find that everyone is in bed. Who will they scare now?!

Baby's Big Box of Little Books

Baby's Big Box of Little Books

Baby and Toddler

Author: Allan Ahlberg Format: Board book Release Date: 01/01/2015

Janet Ahlberg's iconic illustrations present a vast array of baby paraphernalia that should be instantly recognisable and absorbing to a young child. The liberal sprinkling of wit and charm will appeal to every adult too! From Janet and Allan Ahlberg, the creators of Burglar Bill and The Jolly Postman among numerous others and adapted from their classic picture book, The Baby's Catalogue, this little collection is perfect for babies at any and all times of their busy day for the box contains a number of board books for little hands covering Mornings, Night-times, Toys, Baby, Games, Family, Inside, Outside and Pets.  

Starting School

Starting School

Author: Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/07/2013

Janet and Allan Ahlberg's classic, Starting School. From first day nerves to finding your peg, this reassuring read is full of humour and fun for children and parents alike. A classic picture book which offers advice and enjoyment for the whole family before school starts. Allan Ahlberg, a former teacher, postman, plumber's mate and grave digger, is in the super-league of children's writers. He has published over 100 children's books and, with his late wife Janet, created such award winning picture books as EACH PEACH PEAR PLUM and THE JOLLY POSTMAN - both winners of the Kate Greenaway Medal. He has also written prize-winning poetry and fiction and lives in Bath.

Each Peach Pear Plum

Each Peach Pear Plum

Author: Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/10/2008

Each Peach Pear Plum is a timeless picture book classic from the bestselling illustrator/author team Janet and Allan Ahlberg, creators of Peepo!. Each beautifully illustrated page encourages young children to interact with the picture to find the next fairy tale and nursery rhyme character. In this book With your little eye, Take a look, And play 'I spy' Praise for Each Peach Pear Plum: 'Deceptively simple. Each Peach Pear Plum is a work of genius' Elaine Moss 'This familiar rhyme has been given the brilliant Ahlbreg treatment to which no young child can fail to respond. It's a book which will be read over and over again . . . just perfect!' Child Education 'A charming, pictorial fantasia...a warm, sunny, delectable picture book' Brian Alderson, The Times Allan Ahlberg has published over 100 children's books and with his late wife Janet, created such award-winning children's picture books, including Peepo!, and the Kate Greenaway Medal winning The Jolly Postman.

The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters

The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters

Author: Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/1999

Once upon a bicycle, so they say The Jolly Postman came one day . . . Join the Jolly Postman on his rounds as he delivers cards and letters to various fairy-tale characters. He has a letter of apology for the three bears from Goldilocks, a postcard from Jack for the giant, a solicitor's letter on behalf of Little Red Riding-Hood for the wolf who ate grandma, and more! This classic and innovate story includes six envelopes with pull-out letters and cards

Each Peach Pear Plum

Each Peach Pear Plum

Author: Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg Format: Board book Release Date: 27/05/1999

Each Peach Pear Plum - the classic picture book by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Each Peach Pear Plum is a timeless picture book classic from the bestselling illustrator/author team Janet and Allan Ahlberg, creators of Peepo!. Each beautifully illustrated page encourages young children to interact with the picture to find the next fairy tale and nursery rhyme character. This board book edition is perfect for little hands. In this book With your little eye, Take a look, And play 'I spy' Praise for Each Peach Pear Plum: 'Deceptively simple. Each Peach Pear Plum is a work of genius' Elaine Moss 'This familiar rhyme has been given the brilliant Ahlbreg treatment to which no young child can fail to respond. It's a book which will be read over and over again ...just perfect!' Child Education 'A charming, pictorial fantasia...a warm, sunny, delectable picture book' Brian Alderson, The Times Allan Ahlberg has published over 100 children's books and with his late wife Janet, created many award-winning children's picture books. The Baby's Catalogue was inspired by their daughter, Jessica. The Ahlbergs' books are nursery bookshelf standards and have been the recipient of worldwide acclaim and awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal. Look out for these other classics by Allan Ahlberg: Burglar Bill; Cops and Robbers; The Baby's Catalogue; The One and Only Two Heads; Son of a Gun; The Little Worm Book; Two Wheels Two Heads; Funny Bones; A Pair of Sinners; Happy Families; Peepo!; The Ha Ha Bonk Book; Help Your Child to Read; Ten in a Bed; Please mrs Butler; Daisy Chains; Yum Yum; Playmates; Foldaways; Woof; The Cinderella Show; The Jolly Postman; The Jolly Christmas Postman; The Jolly Pocket Postman; The Clothes Horse and Other Stories; The Mighty Slide; Starting School; Heard it in the Playground; The Bear Nobody Wanted; It was a Dark and Stormy Night; The Giant Baby; Baby Sleeps; Blue Buggy; Doll and Teddy; See the Rabbit; Please Mrs Butler; The Better Brown Stories; The Boyhood of Burglar Bill

Peepo! (Board Book)

Peepo! (Board Book)

Author: Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg Format: Board book Release Date: 29/05/1997

PEEPO! has become a classic for babies and toddlers. It follows a baby through the day in a style full of wit, charm and ingenuity. A series of holes peeping through to the next page leads the child on to the next stage in the day, giving a hint of what is to come. An original book that has long delighted young children - and their parents!

The Baby's Catalogue

The Baby's Catalogue

Author: Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/09/1984

This paperback edition of the bestselling picture book The Baby's Catalogue by the iconic British husband and wife picture book team Janet and Allan Ahlberg, creators of Peepo!, is filled with easily recognizable objects - perfect for your baby or toddler! Mums and Dads, breakfasts and bedtimes, pets and toys and prams and swings - and lots and lots of other fascinating things! Allan Ahlberg has published over 100 children's books and with his late wife Janet, created many award-winning children's picture books, including Chicken, Chips and Peas, Funnybones, Each Peach Pear Plum and the Kate Greenaway Medal winning The Jolly Postman.

Peepo! (Board Book)

Peepo! (Board Book)

Author: Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/03/1983

Peepo! is the much-loved picture book classic by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Peepo! is a modern classic that continues to delight generations of babies and toddlers and their parents. Look through the holes to spot details from the wonderful illustrations. Peepo! A perfect gift for new babies and parents, no home should be without a copy! Here's a little baby one, two three standing in his cot. What does he see? Peepo! has become a classic for babies and toddlers. It follows a baby through the day in a style full of wit, charm and ingenuity. A series of holes peeping through to the next page leads the child on to the next stage in the day, giving a hint of what is to come. Praise for Peepo! The best book ever published for babies . ( Books for Your Children ). Surely no one - baby, child or adult - could fail to enjoy Peepo! ( Sunday Telegraph ). A book to last a lifetime ...this is a perfect book for sharing . ( Nursery World ). Allan Ahlberg has published over 100 children's books and with his late wife Janet, created many award-winning children's picture books. The Baby's Catalogue was inspired by their daughter, Jessica. The Ahlbergs' books are nursery bookshelf standards and have been the recipient of worldwide acclaim and awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal. Look out for these other classics by Allan Ahlberg: Burglar Bill ; Cops and Robbers ; The Baby's Catalogue ; The One and Only Two Heads ; Son of a Gun ; The Little Worm Book ; Two Wheels Two Heads ; Funny Bones ; A Pair of Sinners ; Happy Families ; Peepo! ; The Ha Ha Bonk Book ; Help Your Child to Read ; Ten in a Bed ; Please mrs Butler ; Daisy Chains ; Yum Yum ; Playmates ; Foldaways ; Woof ; The Cinderella Show ; The Jolly Postman ; The Jolly Christmas Postman ; The Jolly Pocket Postman ; The Clothes Horse and Other Stories ; The Mighty Slide ; Starting School ; Heard it in the Playground ; The Bear Nobody Wanted ; It was a Dark and Stormy Night ; The Giant Baby ; Baby Sleeps ; Blue Buggy ; Doll and Teddy ; See the Rabbit ; Please Mrs Butler ; The Better Brown Stories ; The Boyhood of Burglar Bill .

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