Thursday, November 24, 2011

Alphabet Books for All Ages

While I loved the accurately self-described "retro-modern" art of Paul Thurlby's Alphabet, I was a little surprised when both my children did as well.  Usually I think of alphabet books as being geared towards younger children or being so sophisticated that they are really for adults.  But this one appealed to my 3-year-old, just because of her love of letters (she is learning to write and loves figuring out what letter a given word starts with) and the illustrations.  We had borrowed it from the library and when she received it as a gift she exclaimed, "I love this book!"  Meanwhile, my 6-year-old really appreciated the visual puns.  In this book, as is typical for alphabet books, each letter is assigned a word (e.g., A is for Awesome, etc.) but then, in a unique stroke, the picture depicting that word also incorporates the shape of the letter itself.  When my 6-year-old grasped that the arms "catching" the ball were shaped like the letter C, her face registered understanding and delight.  My favorite is J for Jazz, with a saxophone in the shape of the letter J.

A few weeks ago, my mom handed me Animalphabet, published by the Metropolitan Museum and which she bought for $4 at the Strand who-knows-when.  Thanks, Mom!  Here the puns are verbal (and, befitting the title, animal-related) and matched with works from the museum's collection.  So K is for Kitty Litter and is paired with a Currier & Ives painting of a cat and her kittens, a group of donkeys is an Ass-embly, and C shows the emblem of Luke the Evangelist, or a Holy Cow.  While this is more of an alphabet book for adults, I love having it in my collection.

What is your favorite alphabet book?


  1. someone who doesn't normally like alphabet booksNovember 28, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town because it makes the capital letters responsible parents and the lowercase letters misbehaving children.

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  3. I wrote about The Sleepy Little Alphabet in my very first post! Here: