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Literature / Burglar Bill

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Burglar Bill is a 1979 children's book by husband and wife team Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

As his name implies, Burglar Bill is a burglar. Everything in his house, from the toast he eats for breakfast to the bed he sleeps in, is stolen. Then one night, he accidentally steals a baby - and his life changes forever.


  • Accidental Kidnapping: Bill steals a box with holes in it, and only discovers that there's a baby inside when he gets home.
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  • Adult Fear: Betty left her baby alone on the doorstep of the house she was burgling, and when she returned, he'd disappeared.
  • Alliterative Name: Burglar Bill and Burglar Betty. Burglar Bill later becomes Baker Bill.
  • Blatant Burglar: Both Bill and Betty wear Domino Masks, black and white striped shirts and in Bill's case, a flatcap.
  • The Diaper Change: Bill is forced to change the baby's nappy. Apart from being forced to use an old towel (since he doesn't have any more nappies), he doesn't do too bad a job.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After realising what bad people they are, Bill and Betty return everything they've ever stolen over the years, and become honest citizens.
  • Heel Realization: Both Bill and Betty undergo one.
  • Nice Hat: Betty wears one.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bill gets one when he realises that he's being burgled.
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  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Bill learns how it feels to have someone break into your house and steal from you. Likewise, Betty learns how it feels to have someone take something precious from you.
  • Villain Protagonist: Bill is a pretty nice guy, but he's still a burglar who goes around stealing from others.

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