About Allan Ahlberg

Allan Ahlberg is best known for his school poems. There are poems about lost scissors, the class hamster, making friends and falling out, the excitement of a stray dog in playground – and the infamous Derek Drew! He captures the noisy playground moments as well as the quiet -thinking-in-the-corner moments. He notices the small, absurd things that go on all the time in every school.

Allan is perfectly tuned in to the language of the classroom, the playground and the kitchen table. His first book of school poems was published over thirty years ago, but you will almost certainly recognise some of the things that the children, teachers and parents say. (So will your teachers, we’re willing to bet!) In ‘Please Mrs Butler’, you can hear him speak with voice of the teacher and the child. Both sound more and more desperate.

Allan often uses traditional verse forms like the ballad. Many of his poems have a very strong rhythm, and some sound like playground rhymes and chants. Some are actually written to be sung to a traditional tune. You can sing ’What shall we do with a grumpy teacher?’ to the tune of ‘What shall we do with a drunken sailor?’!

Allan also writes longer, narrative poems. Often this has the effect of turning a trivial incident into an epic tale.

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Allan has written over 150 books for children, including classics such as Each Peach Pear Plum, and The Jolly Postman. He was born in a part of the Midlands known as ’The Black Country’. He grew up in a home that he says is just like the one in Peepo! In ‘Talk us Through it, Charlotte’, you can hear him talk about the region and read with the local accent.

Allan always dreamed of being a writer, but first he became a primary school teacher. However, nothing has been wasted. The children in his class, his daughter, his passion for football and even being a postman for a while … all have found their way into Allan’s stories and poems.

Many of his picturebooks are written in rhyming verse and are perfect for reading aloud.

Allan's recording was made on 18 November 2003 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

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Selected Bibliography

Please, Mrs Butler, Penguin Books, 2003

Heard it in the Playground, Penguin Books, 1989

Friendly Matches, Penguin Books, 2001