A Book to Delight: The Jolly Postman
by H. Wallace Goddard

While it may be true that “the best children’s books delight, entertain, and refine us,” a great children’s book may not do all three equally. For example, The Jolly Postman, or Other People’s Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg may not do much refining of human souls–but it surely does delight! In fact, there is some question whether a person can really experience fullness of joy without owning a personal copy of The Jolly Postman.

In this delightful book, we follow an English postman on his bicycle journey through the English countryside delivering mail. Mr. and Mrs. Bear (of Three Bear Cottage) are his first stop. As if the simple and charming illustrations were not enough, we have an envelope containing the letter right in our own book! We remove the letter to find an earnest–if imperfectly spelled–apology from Goldilocks. She concludes with an invitation for Baby Bear to come to her birthday party.

The postman’s next stop is the ominous witch at the gingerbread bungalow deep in the woods. To her is delivered the latest witch supply catalogue. We open it to find such promising offerings as an easy-clean non-stick cauldron set, a special deal on newts, frog powder, etc. How could anyone who was ever a child fail to be delighted?!

To the giant, the postman delivers a postcard from Jack of beanstalk fame. To Cinderella is delivered a miniature version of her hot-off-the-presses fairytale story. To the wolf, settled into grandma’s cottage, is delivered a legal eviction notice. The postman’s final stop is at Goldilocks’ house where he delivers a birthday card and is invited to stay for cake. The book concludes as our gentle postman bikes home for tea.

The only caveat related to this book is that it will not last long in the hands of a child who is not careful and insists on removing the letters from their envelopes without help.

The enchanting book was originally published in Great Britain in 1986 but remains popular today for many reasons. It takes familiar tales and rhymes and ties them together in a sweet and gentle journey. Look for The Jolly Postman at your local bookseller and see if it does not move you a little closer to a fullness of joy.

Janet & Allan Ahlberg (2001). The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co.


2001 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.