Allan Ahlberg is a bit of a legend in my eyes. Regular readers of Books with Bunny will know I am hugely passionate about high quality children's books and Ahlberg has been at the top of this field for decades. I read his books when I was a child myself, particularly enjoying the Happy Families series (Mr Tick the Teacher may well have ignited my desire to work in a small school and influenced my career choice-talk about a life changing read!) and Ahlberg has continued to be an ever-present in my life as a reader, in recent years when reading to the children I work with and my own son.
So when I heard that Allan's new memoir of poetry and prose The Bucket was being published by Penguin I was very keen to read it, and begged Penguin to let me have an advance copy. It was time to learn more about the man behind the magic.
The Bucket is a nostalgic collection; short yet embracing Ahlberg's family life (he was adopted as a child) and portraying aspects of childhood that readers will be able to relate to. Unfortunately, the memory which struck me most was the horrifying fact that circa 1987 I ate one of my scabs whilst waiting for ballet class to begin (the wonderful The Things I Ate might remind you of some deeply buried 'meals' you enjoyed as a child too).
Whilst reading The Bucket there were times I was reminded of the work of the late Seamus Heaney-not in the style which is predominantly rhyming poetry and simple yet emotive prose, but in the content. Ahlberg's ability to conjure up long-forgotten images of a bygone era left me with pangs of emotion- heartbreak and humour side by side. As I read I was reminded of how I felt the first time I read Heaney's Blackberry-Picking, longing for the innocence of youth to remain. The generic experiences of childhood combined with Ahlberg's personal memories makes The Bucket a touching and heart-felt read.
I found The Bucket to be a charming memoir, and I am sure it will appeal to a wide ranging audience.
The Bucket is available to buy from tomorrow (5th September 2013).
With thanks to Penguin for providing me with a copy of this book after I unashamedly pleaded for it. All views expressed here are my own.