Funnybones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg Story Snug
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Funnybones by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

I was so excited to find a copy of Funnybones in a charity shop in the summer, it was one of the books that I had in the book corner of my first classroom and was very popular among the four and five year olds in my class.

My daughter and I have read it several times since we bought it, it’s a great book for a beginner reader and a fun read for Halloween.

The Story: Three skeletons, a big one, a little one and a dog, live in a dark cellar. One night they decide to take their dog for a walk and frighten somebody. As the dog is chasing a stick he bumps into a tree and falls apart so the big skeleton and the little skeleton put him back together before visiting their skeleton friends at the zoo. They still haven’t frightened anybody so the little skeleton suggests that they frighten each other.

Funnybones begins in a dark cellar in a dark house where we are introduced to the three skeletons through a very atmospheric, repetitive text. The story describes their walk and takes them to the park and the zoo, both familiar situations for young children. The text is easy to read and the repetition is great for a beginner reader (the story goes full circle with the repetition on the final page of the story mirroring the first page). The illustrations are colourful on a dark background and have a comic style feel to them with speech bubbles to move the story along. Much of the humour comes from the illustrations. We love the illustrations where the skeletons are putting the dog back together, not only do they put him back incorrectly but when he says ‘Woof’ it comes out all muddled too!

Funnybones is a fun book to introduce children to the concept of having a skeleton and could be used in a My Body classroom topic. Some bone names are introduced in the story when the skeletons sing some of the lyrics of The Skeleton Dance as they put the dog back together. We put our own moveable skeleton puppet together using this Preschool Activities template, we’re still looking for a glow in the dark pen to colour it with so we can hang it in our window for Halloween.

Funnybones Skeleton Puppet Story Snug

The language used in Funnybones can also be incorporated into a literacy lesson. The word ‘dark’ is frequently used in the text and a fun activity is for children to rewrite the first page using their own adjectives then read it aloud to the class. Children could also contribute to a class story or book where they give their ideas on how the skeletons can scare each other and write them using the same sentence structure as in the story – ‘They hid round corners and frightened each other.’

There are several more Funnybones stories that we haven’t read. Have you read any of the other Funnybones stories? Which would you recommend?

Age Range: 3 +

Author: Allan Ahlberg / Illustrator: Janet Ahlberg

If you’re planning a Funnybones party for Halloween Puffin Books have a great idea for a Funnybones costume, a recipe for Funnybones biscuits and Funnybones bunting and party decorations.


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40 responses to “Funnybones by Janet & Allan Ahlberg”

  1. Pragmaticmom avatar

    I love your extension ideas! So perfect for Halloween! Thanks for sharing at the Kid Lit Blog Hop Catherine!

    1. Catherine avatar

      We couldn’t review a book about skeletons without making one of our own – we’re still looking for a glow in the dark pen to colour him in though!

  2. Jenni - Odd Socks and Lollipops avatar

    I have just bought this for my daughter – it should arrive for next week. I loved this book as a child and I hope my daughter will love it too

    1. Catherine avatar

      I hope your daughter enjoys it 🙂

  3. Renee MDBR avatar

    Love Janet and Allan Ahlberg! Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

    1. Catherine avatar

      The Ahlbergs have written some great books. I think my favourite Ahlberg book is still The Jolly Postman 🙂

  4. Kate avatar

    We adore Funnybones, one of the favourite books in our house. Thanks for linking up with #TriedTested

    1. Catherine avatar

      Funnybones is such a great read for this time of year 🙂

  5. Colette B avatar

    It really is a proper classic!
    Thanks for sharing your review on #TriedTested this week x

    1. Catherine avatar

      So many of Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s books are timeless and still relevant for children today 🙂

  6. Baby Isabella avatar

    I can’t wait to get this book! My mummy is waiting until I hit 3 years old. Great review #TriedTested

    1. Catherine avatar

      I hope that you enjoy it Baby Isabella 🙂

  7. The Reading Residence avatar

    I loved FunnyBones when I was little, too! Sadly, my daughter wasn’t as excited by them as I was when we got a copy from the library – I’m hoping my son will be!

    1. Catherine avatar

      That’s a shame. I hope your son likes them 🙂

  8. Our Cherry Tree avatar

    I loved these books when I was a child! They have some at my local library and I keep meaning to get them out for Lily, I hope my kids love them too.

    1. Catherine avatar

      They’re such simple stories, I’m glad my daughter enjoyed this one as much as me. The repetition and the inclusion of the song lyrics makes it a great book for her to read independently.

  9. Claire avatar

    This is one of my all time favorite books! I found it on the book shelf the other day and realised I had not read it to the children for far too long! It’s been added to next weeks story basket!!

    1. Catherine avatar

      I hope they enjoy it. It’s a great story for October and Halloween 🙂

  10. Morgan Prince avatar

    Funnybones! Wow that’s a blast from the past, I remember reading it as a child! #ReadWithMe

    1. Catherine avatar

      I thought exactly the same when I saw it in the charity shop – a real blast from the past!

  11. chantelle hazelden avatar

    this was one of my favourite books as a child!! thanks for sharing with #readwithme

    1. Catherine avatar

      It was one of my favourite stories to share with my reception / year one classes 🙂

  12. Tattooed Mummy avatar

    Janet and Allan Ahlberg just write the best books! Ny daughter is all grown up now, but Each Peach Pear Plum was always a popular favourite, along with Peepo! This sounds as adorable. #readwithme

    1. Catherine avatar

      Janet and Allan Ahlberg wrote some great books together. We love Each Peach Pear Plum too 🙂

  13. Emma - My Book Corner avatar

    How adorable! I’m loving that skeleton – a glow in the dark pen will be the perfect addition!!

    1. Catherine avatar

      The skeleton was fun to make – great for Halloween 🙂

  14. Christine avatar

    Hey! Here from KidLit Blog Hop! Looks like a great book pick especially for Halloween I love that you included an activity you and your daughter did. It looks like so much fun!

    1. Catherine avatar

      We often do book inspired activities, books about skeletons can stimulate all sorts of learning 🙂

  15. tracey at Mummyshire avatar

    This is a book I’d forgotten about (I think I read it as a child!!) but I know my children will love it
    Thank you for bringing it to my attention, I’m going to go on the hunt for a second hand one – they’ll love it!

    1. Catherine avatar

      I love hunting in charity shops, I’ve found lots of great childhood favourites that I had forgotten about! I hope your children enjoy Funnybones 🙂

  16. Alison avatar

    I’ll have to check that one out the next time we’re doing anatomy type activities! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Catherine avatar

      We did have fun making the skeleton and even found the song in our music collection 🙂

  17. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) avatar

    I loved Funnybones as a child – one of my favourite picture books. Reading your review brought it all back and made me think I really must get a copy for the girls 🙂

    1. Catherine avatar

      Reading is again as an adult was just as much fun and you can use some really spooky voices when you read it out loud 🙂

  18. Xyra avatar

    Hi! Stopping by from the KidLitBlogHop. This sounds like a great book. I have three cousins who have recently started their families. This would be a perfect birthday gift for the one turning 4 next week. 🙂

    1. Catherine avatar

      The four year olds in my class loved it 🙂

  19. Julie avatar

    I loved having a collection of Halloween books handy as a kid. This is a new one for me. Thanks for sharing! Hopping over from the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    1. Catherine avatar

      Funnybones is an oldie but a goodie 🙂

  20. Ness @ JibberJabberUK avatar

    They have some of the Funny Bones books at my local library and I like to sit down and read them with my son. Some books are just timeless!

    1. Catherine avatar

      I agree, Funnybones is really timeless. It’s just as good now as when I first read it 🙂