The Goldilocks Project: Previously

Previously by Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Bruce Ingman is a different type of fairy tale. It goes backwards, showing that each nursery rhyme or fairy tale characters came from somewhere else. showing the effect of the action before showing the action.

It begins, for example, with Goldilocks:

Goldilocks arrived home all bothered and hot.

And of course we then learn where Goldilocks has come from.  She had previously met another familiar character, Jack, who had met Jill, who had met the frog prince, who had met Cinderella, and so forth. Each favorite nursery rhyme or fairy tale has an origin, eventually returning to them being babies.

I enjoyed the very different approach to these favorite stories, although the concept was a little too challenging for Raisin’s 3-year-old mind. The illustrations were bright and child-like, yet detailed enough to add life to the story of what happens before the Once Upon a Time, or in other words, previously. While Raisin didn’t “get it,” we still enjoyed reading it together. We had some good discussions about cause and effect, and I think it would a fun book to grow with. The words have a non-rhymed rhythm that makes it fun to read aloud, and the ending sounds beautiful and poetic.

Highly recommended for a creative child or adult.

Note: Previously was published by Candlewick Press, 2007; I read a library copy of the book.


  1. says

    This sounds like a cute book! For a sophisticated grown-up take on connected fairy tales, I recommend Stephen Sondheim’s musical, “Into the Woods”.

    • says

      Laura » oh I’d forgotten about that play. I’ve seen it…wonder if I could find it playing somewhere around here this year? This is a very cute book.