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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night


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About the Author

Janet and Allan Ahlberg created many acclaimed picture books from 1975 to shortly before Janet's death in 1994. Allan taught for some years before becoming a full-time writer and Janet studied graphic design and became an illustrator. EACH PEACH PEAR PLUM and THE JOLLY CHRISTMAS POSTMAN both won Greenaway Medals and PEEPO! won the Best Books For Babies Award in 1985. Allan Ahlberg lives in Leicestershire.


Meticulously meshing words and pictures, the Ahlbergs ( The Jolly Postman ) present an unusually witty yarn-within-a-yarn. Dozing while tending his family's goats, eight-year-old Antonio is kidnapped by a band of brigands and their bored chief, who demands that the boy tell a story to pass the time during, yes, a dark and stormy night. A rather rude bunch, the rogues keep interrupting Antonio (whose tale features these very brigands), heavily editing his narrative (``No crocodiles or sharks--no jaws!''; ``No Brussels sprouts!''). With a good-natured ``Right-o!,'' the lad repeatedly starts over. Eventually Antonio tells of a ``Thingy'' lurking in a castle moat who is about to do in the chief and his cronies. As this distresses them greatly, the boy wisely switches his plot to ``something pleasant'': a lavish banquet followed by a treasure hunt. But when Antonio's tale has the chief demanding all of the booty, the fictional brigands protest loudly--much to the chagrin of the real brigands, who fear their master's wrath. Mayhem ensues, leading to a very clever finale. As always, Janet Ahlberg's delightfully detailed art offers youngsters lots to look at--and to laugh at. Ages 7-10. (Feb.)

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