This could be subtitled Pamela Allen: a treasure. Her books have delighted preschoolers, parents, early childhood educators and others for generations now. I remember the laughter from preschool groups at Brooklyn Library years ago, when they worked out who really sank the boat!
It turns out that I had missed several of these stories so it has been enchanting to discover the licorice-allsort-eating dog, the difficulties of having four baby siblings and feeling unwanted, like Cuthbert, the absolutely frightening Share, said the rooster, which has as nasty an ending as you’d want and certainly is a true cautionary tale.
There’s also that archetypal Kiwi happening – a duckling falls into a drain. Of course someone has to rescue it and reunite it with its mum, and of course it’s the policeman who comes to sort it out when everyone else fails. More of a social commentary on life in the 80s than just now, perhaps!
Through all the stories, Pamela Allen’s illustrations give life to the words; the characters spring out of the colourful drawings and make you want to keep reading so you can SEE the stories as well as hear them. They do really have the power to enchant and delight.
This would make a fabulous gift for littlies, but it will give the adult who reads to them just as much pleasure.
Reviewed by Sue Esterman
Who Sank the Boat? and other stories
by Pamela Allen
Published by Puffin