Allan Ahlberg's The Boyhood of Burglar Bill is a nostalgic, autobiographical story about football, schooldays and growing-up in the '50s. Allan Ahlberg is the internationally bestselling author of children's classics that include Peepo! and Each Peach, Pear Plum, illustrated by Janet Ahlberg.
Archie was a wonder dog in all our eyes. Nearly a year ago he had got run over. They found his foot in the street but the rest of him ran off. Mr Purnell mourned for a while; Mrs Purnell offered to beat the motorcyclist up or at least wreck his bike. Then, lo and behold, a fortnight later back came Archie.
Coronation year, 1953. The boys from the bottom pitch - a great soup of boys - play football. When the 'Coronation Cup' is proposed, they put their heads together, pool their pocket money and get a team up. There's no chance they'll win of course. They're just the odds and sods in Mr Cork's opinion. Besides, he'd go berserk if they did; menace them with his one good arm and pulverise their desks with his cricket stump. They'd be better off losing.
The Boyhood of Burglar Bill is the second in a sequence of stories in which Allan Ahlberg explores his own childhood. My Brother's Ghost, shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, was the first.
Allan Ahlberg has published books for children of all ages from the picture books Peepo!, Each Peach, Pear, Plum, The Jolly Postman and the Funnybones series - illustrated by Janet Ahlberg - to his books for older readers including Woof! and his books of verse: Please Mrs. Butler and Heard it in the Playground.