In this slim paperback, Janet and Allan Ahlberg take six everyday expressions and write a story around each of them, adding a touch of fairytale, plus plenty of charm and humour. In 'The Clothes Horse' we learn all about a horse made, by a magician, out of spare clothes, and follow its adventures after it runs away from its job pulling a milkman's cart.
The second story: 'Life Savings' tells the tale of an old woman who has saved days from her childhood in order to spend later. But there's more. What of the Giant constantly bothered by small children called 'Jack'? Why he puts them in a pot, of course, in order to tip them down the bottom of the garden every night. What is 'No-man's' land? One small girl in the fourth story poses the question, but luckily her best friend knows the answer.
Next we have 'The Night Mail', which faithfully delivers sacks of night, until, one day, robbers steal them, plunging a kingdom into constant daytime. The final story, 'God Knows', is a twist on a classic bedtime story, with a rather unusual narrator.
It's the humour, I think, that makes this book really special - a real delight for adults reading aloud, and for older self-readers. There's a small illustration on nearly every page - just enough to complement the stories, and a full colour page illustration at the start of every tale, full of charming detail, with plenty of interesting little things for children to spot.
If you're looking for lots of bright colours and racy, bouncy text, then this book isn't for you. This is a quiet book, charming rather than exciting. All the stories have a gentle, self-contained, fairytale quality, making it perfect for bedtime, and a wonderful book to snuggle up to on a cold grey afternoon, or when a child is sick and you want to raise a smile.