'Brain-bogglingly weird': the class book review

The new book by Allan Ahlberg, author of Each Peach Pear Plum, offers a novel way of learning the two times-table. It is, our six- to eight-year-old reviewers say, very exciting...but a bit weird

Kim Duffy

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Title: Alison Hubble
Author: Allan Ahlberg
Illustrator: Bruce Ingman
Publisher: Puffin

Teacher review

This is the Story of Alison Hubble Who Went to Bed Single and Woke Up Double is the newest masterpiece by Allan Ahlberg, the genius storyteller behind Peepo!, Funnybones and Each Peach Pear Plum, among many other wonderful stories.

Alison Hubble is the hilarious tale of a little girl who has the unusual habit of doubling. She goes to bed as one person and wakes up and there’s two – what a conundrum for her parents! They send her off to school, with a note that, as a teacher myself, made me laugh out loud: “Dear Mrs Mott… PS, her extra dinner money is enclosed.”

Alison then doubles again, making her the school’s best-ever goalkeeper, given that no ball could get past four girls covering the goal line. Her poor parents are shocked to discover that they now have four identical Alisons. The group of children I read the book to felt sorry for the Alisons’ mum, who ended up making four dinners.

alison hubble, allan ahlberg, bruce ingman, book review

The next morning, with Alison having doubled again in the night, her dad struggled to count the girls and get them off to school. And the poor teacher has no luck calling the class register – thanks to some cheeky children who add to the number of Alisons by shouting “Here, Miss!”, driving Mrs Mott to distraction.

The news crews, local council, professors and experts all step in to help with the “Alison problem”. But nothing seems to stop this girl doubling! The end of the book is particularly ambiguous, and the children and I were left wondering what more adventures the many Alisons might get up to next.

Reading this book was an absolute joy – the rhyme and rhythm of the story mean that it practically rolls off the tongue, casting a spell over listeners. It is truly enchanting. And it is brilliantly accompanied by Bruce Ingman’s illustrations, which bring this bizarre story to life and introduce additional details such as the harassed teacher, the cheeky school children and the frustrated grandma, all creating lots of discussion within my review group.

Curriculum links

Some picture books immediately suggest an educational context and I can’t not mention the obvious link to maths and using this book to support learning about doubling and times tables. It is quite truly a story of mathematical mayhem and one of the children in my review group kept continuing to double numbers up to 156.

However, I highly recommend reading this book just for the joy of the story, even if, like Alison, maths isn’t your strongest subject.

Kim Duffy is Primary 3 teacher at Auchtermuchty Primary School. She writes a book blog, and tweets as @BookBairn

Pupil reviews

I thought it was very good and it made me wonder what will happen next. It is a very exciting story but a bit weird.

I thought it was very bouncy with its rhyme and suitable for all age groups. It was great. I enjoyed the very end of the story which said "The End (not)".

I liked the book because it was brain-bogglingly weird and cool!

I thought it was funny because Alison just kept doubling. I also liked it when the children went bonkers.

I think that it was double the double the double the fun! It was funny and silly.

I thought the book was really weird and the best rhyming book I have heard.

I thought the book was funny and weird and cool.

I liked the rhyming and thought it was a little weird but really good.

If you or your class would like to write a review for TES, please contact Adi Bloom at adi.bloom@tesglobal.com

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Kim Duffy

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