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Friday, 20 January 2017

Each Peach Pear Plum

Author:Allan Ahlberg
Illustrator: Janet Alhberg
Publisher: Puffin Books 1978, board book edition 1999

I'm surprised it's taken me until mid January to review an Ahlberg book, as their many books are staples of our book shelves and classics of British children's literature. 

Each Peach Pear Plum is a fantastic rhyming 'I-spy' book, inviting small children to spot well-known nursery rhyme and fairytale characters such as The Three Bears and Bo-Peep. 
The Ahlbergs use intertextuality again in the Postman and other People's Letters books; referencing characters that young children are likely to know, playing in their inherent familiarity and knowledge, helps them feel like empowered readers,  it's a technique I've  noticed used a great deal in British children's early readers fiction. 

Each Peach Pear Plum in board book edition is particularly engaging for the 18month-2 1/2 year old age range, tough and durable for all the poking and pointing of podgy little hands. The story / game itself, to spot the arm or legs or distant figure of the next character, is fun and invites action, and the scanning of the illustrations. The illustrations are very 'busy' and detailed, there's much to see, sometimes a little too much as on first read the clues are very hard to spot, but then the child gets a real sense of satisfaction from remembering the exact spot to point amongst all the busyness

In terms of the nursery rhymes inside the rhyme, again this is clever as it makes associations and so is easier for children to remember and recite. With rhyming couplets and use of alliteration the book is very catchy, 'Wicked Witch over the Wood' 
and I find myself repeating the verse over and over in my sleep. I also like the ending, bringing the rhyme to a happy conclusion, in that 'plum pie in the sun' unites so many disparate story characters together on one picnic blanket, from Tom Thumb to Robin Hood, Baby Bunting to The Wicked Witch. I never tire of reading this beautiful rhyme. It has iconic status in modern British children's literature, and rightfully so. 

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