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Burglar Bill (1977)

by Janet Ahlberg, Allan Ahlberg

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260887,572 (3.93)11
Who's that creeping down the street? Who's that climbing up the wall? Who's that coming through the window? Who's that? It's Burglar Bill. This title is suitable for children learning to read.

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The eponymous Burglar Bill lives a solitary life of crime in this picture-book from Janet and Allan Ahlberg, robbing homes at night and returning to his own domicile - entirely kitted out with ill-gotten goods - to sleep during the day. Then one night he discovers a cardboard box at one of the homes he is burgling, and thinking it might come in handy, brings it home with him. Imagine his surprise when it contains a baby! Now Burglar Bill has an entirely new occupation: child minder. Soon he also has a lady love, in the form of Burglar Betty, leading to some surprising changes in all of their lives...

Originally published in 1977, and recommended to me by an online friend, Burglar Bill is only the second picture-book I have read from Janet and Allan Ahlberg, following upon their classic Each Peach Pear Plum. I found it quite amusing, with its blithe acceptance of Burglar Bill's crime sprees, and its tale of lifestyle reformation. The artwork was likewise appealing, with plenty of fun little details to examine. It's interesting to note that a number of online reviews criticize the fact that Bill and Betty were never punished for their transgressions, leading me to wonder whether this issue has ever caused the book to be challenged, when it comes to inclusion in school and public library collections. I note that many American libraries in WorldCat have it in their collection, so perhaps the eventual reformation of the characters was enough for it to pass muster. I also wonder whether the satirical poem Burglar Bill, included in F. Anstey's 1888 Burglar Bill, and Other Pieces for the Use of the Young Reciter, might have been an inspiration for the Ahlbergs. After all, that poem - perhaps meant to mock sentimental stories like Frances Hodgson's Burnett's Editha's Burglar - also dealt with a burglar and his transformative encounter with an innocent child.

Whatever the case might be, this is one I enjoyed, and that I would recommend to picture-book readers who enjoy humorous and somewhat quirky stories. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Aug 22, 2021 |
Very fun, and (thank goodness) it ends well. The conceit is a clever one, and much joy can be wrung from the plethora of detail in each lovely illustration--you can play I spy with your young loved one on almost any page.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). I feel a lot of readers automatically render any book they enjoy 5, but I grade on a curve! ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Oct 13, 2020 |
The story is not half bad and the art was alright but I feel that the story is also unacceptable for a young child to read this. The book shows that there are no real consequences to stealing. Not even an apology is needed in this! Horrible lesson possibility! Even though the burglar changes his way there were no discipline for him in any way. I would not let my young child read this. ( )
  jljaina | May 16, 2015 |

Everything Burglar Bill has is stolen. His entire house is filled with stolen things. One day, while out stealing, Burglar Bill accidentally discovers a baby. He plays with the baby all day, and then takes the baby home with him. One day, someone decides to steal from Burglar Bill. It is Burglar Betty. The two burglars meet and discover that the baby Bill stole was Betty's baby. Because Betty frightened Bill so much while stealing from him, Bill reforms and decides to never steal again. He becomes a bread-man in a bakery and the two get married. ( )
  debnance | Jul 18, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ahlberg, Janetprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ahlberg, Allanmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Who's that creeping down the street? Who's that climbing up the wall? Who's that coming through the window? Who's that? It's Burglar Bill. This title is suitable for children learning to read.

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Burglar Bill decides to change his way after he becomes a victim of burglary.
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Average: (3.93)
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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