Ahlberg (The Goldilocks Variations) delivers a lighthearted romp through several fairy tales, with cutout doors and windows helping guide the action from one story to the next. After Lucy’s dog, Mr. Barker, dashes out the window, she follows him into a house where a “golden-haired girl” is enjoying porridge, a home made of straw, and one where they are dwarfed by enormous furniture. “Oh!” Lucy remarks each time. “I think I know where we are.” In many ways, this feels like a tender, 21st-century companion to Ahlberg’s parents’ classic Each Peach Pear Plum; as in that book, a gentle sense of humor (this giant up the bean stalk has knuckle tattoos) and cozy, detail-rich artwork should keep children engrossed and amused for hours. Ages 2–5. (Mar.)
Ahlberg's charming line-and-wash artwork features beautifully detailed, distinctive settings filled with visual clues indicating which traditional tales are taking place...Just as Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s preschool classic Each Peach Pear Plum (1979) introduced nursery rhymes, their daughter’s engaging picture book offers a playful introduction to fairy tales.
—Booklist (starred review)
Ahlberg (The Goldilocks Variations) delivers a lighthearted romp through several fairy tales...In many ways, this feels like a tender, 21st-century companion to Ahlberg’s parents’ classic Each Peach Pear Plum; as in that book, a gentle sense of humor (this giant up the bean stalk has knuckle tattoos) and cozy, detail-rich artwork should keep children engrossed and amused for hours.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A hole in the book’s cover spotlights Mr. Barker, Lucy’s pet dog, and gets the ball rolling on the peek-through device that teases upcoming events as the story as it traverses multiple fairy tales...The where-are- they element is a captivating and effective device, and the die-cut windows provide visual links between the various locations. Within the daintily attractive watercolor illustrations, numerous referential details (the bears’ oven has three settings: too cold, just right, and too hot, and their shopping list includes “batteries for burglar alarm”) add to the fun.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
A fairy-tale mashup light as a feather and pretty as a sunny morning.
Sturdy pages will ensure that the book holds up through repeated journeys as readers enjoy many trips through the different peek-through openings to discover in each scene.
—School Library Journal
“A Peek-Through Story” with cutout windows that add extra delight to this enormously clever, highly entertaining fractured fairy, this choice is bound to be requested for repeated readings time and time again.
—Books to Borrow...Books to Buy (column from Kendal A. Rautzhan)
PreS-Gr 2—When Lucy's dog, Mr. Barker, becomes bored with the story she's reading him and leaps out a peek-through window, the pair soon find themselves inside different fairy tale scenes. From the home of the Three Bears, they seek refuge with the Three Pigs. They then find themselves in the Giant's home atop Jack's beanstalk, later in Sleeping Beauty's bedchamber, then hurrying past a gingerbread house in the forest, and finally back in Lucy's room, safe from bears, a wolf, a giant, and a disgruntled fairy. Upon entering each new scene, Lucy asks, "Where are we?" Knowledge of the tales represented in this book will greatly enhance children's enjoyment as they follow the characters and join Lucy in saying, "Oh! I know where we are," even before a page turn reveals the answer. Sharp youngsters will notice that the poster in Lucy's room in the opening scene contains a foreshadowing of the tales she will encounter, and subsequent charming watercolor illustrations are filled with details that will help identify those stories. There are plenty of visual jokes to entertain adults reading the story aloud as well. For example, a sign in the Three Bears' home reads, "Home is where the porridge is," and the knobs on the stove point to "too cold," "too hot," and "just right." VERDICT Sturdy pages will ensure that the book holds up through repeated journeys as readers enjoy many trips through the different peek-through openings to discover in each scene.—Marianne Saccardi, Children's Literature Consultant, Greenwich, CT
The scion of Janet and Allan Ahlberg continues the family tradition with another novelty fractured fairy tale—actually, make that tales. Lucy begins right on the endpapers with a story for her dog, Mr. Barker, but by the title page it is clear he isn't listening. He leaps out of the window of her room—a child's delight with books and toys and a mural that will figure prominently in the rest of the tale. It's a cutout window, so Lucy pops through herself, finding a golden-haired girl eating porridge on the other side. Lucy muses, "I know where we are," and invites Goldilocks to leave with her, as the bears are on their way home. They run to the straw house of the three little pigs (Goldie does not let go of her bowl of porridge), where they suggest that the pigs join them to avoid the wolf. They pop through to three more fairy-tale settings, each time peering through a cutout window to the next scene and bringing along characters from the preceding tale before returning to Lucy's bedroom. There are nice details, such as the drafting table upon which the piggies are sketching a house of sticks, and lovely sunlit colors in each spread. Within this most European of conceits, Ahlberg injects some diversity: Goldie is blonde, Jack is a redhead, Lucy is a brunette with tea-colored skin, and Sleeping Beauty might be Latina or South Asian in her heritage. A fairy-tale mashup light as a feather and pretty as a sunny morning. (Picture book. 4-8)