Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book Review: The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Once upon a bicycle,
  So they say,
A Jolly Postman came one day
  From over the hills
And far away...

If you've ever wondered what happened after "Happily ever after," then The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters is just what you've been looking for. The Jolly Postman spends his day delivering letters, postcards, and flyers to a variety of familiar fairy tale characters. Each letter is tucked inside an envelope cleverly addressed and illustrated, to be pulled out and read before the postman moves on to his next customer. Who do you suppose wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Bear, of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?  What type of advertisement has the witch in the Gingerbread house so excited? What other characters has he visited, who has invited him in for tea, and how has his day gone? Find this much-loved book, pour some tea, and settle in for a very sweet and interactive story.

For Teachers and Librarians:
Definitely a book for the younger crowd - and it has many possibilities educationally speaking. You can seamlessly work The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters into a fairy tale unit, a letter-writing unit, a careers unit, and perhaps a unit on neighborliness and/or manners. Or, how about as part of a lesson on the post office and how letters get to people's homes, the types of mail delivered, and how this method of delivery compares/contrasts to the way your students receive their mail? Equally important, the kids will delight in reaching into each envelope and pulling out the mysteries hidden inside. Everyone loves receiving mail - but it's especially exciting for the short set, who may not get so much as we in the taller set. Fun to read aloud, this book is also one your charges will clamor over to be able to read on their own. With the fairly simple text and rhyming format, it is a delight to hear as well as a help for kiddos sounding out on their own. 

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
Your little guys will absolutely love The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters. It is a fun twist on traditional fairy tales - based on stories they already know and love, but with this new and interesting addition of real letters tucked inside real envelopes that add curious new things to the tales. They will have a great time snuggling with you in a chair while you read it to them - just be sure to keep out of the way once it's time to extract each letter. It's doubtful they'll let you do that most fun part yourself!

For the Kids:
Don't you love getting mail? Letters are so fun to open up and read, and here is this book, The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters, full of letters to people like the Three Bears, and Goldilocks, and the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. Cool, huh? I wonder who is writing to them? What kind of letters to fairy tale characters get, anyway? Hmmm. The only way to find out is to ask your parents for a trip to the library or bookstore to find this book. Then find a squishy, comfy chair, and get reading (or, have someone read it to you).

Wrapping Up:
The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters is a sweet twist on classic fairy tales, taking the reader for a peek just beyond the stories she already knows. Little guys will adore this book and ask to read it again and again, teachers and librarians will have a wealth of teaching ideas to use it with, and parents and caregivers can rest easy knowing they've provided their little ones with a book that is both fun, interesting, and destined to be a beloved favorite.

Title: The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters
Author: Allan Ahlberg
Illustrator: Janet Ahlberg
Pages: 29
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher and Date: Little, Brown and Company, September 1986
Edition: 1st U.S. Edition
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $17.99
ISBN-10: 0316020362
ISBN-13: 978-0316020367

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