Less a traditional abecedary than an original pourquois tale, Rosenthal’s latest asks the question, how did the alphabet come to be?
The story purports that letters (along with fire, the wheel and shadows) were already invented when title character, Al Pha, makes a bet with himself that he can devise the best order for them. The king has high hopes that “once the letters are organized, writing will really take off! Books! Poetry! Love letters! Stop signs!” The illogic of this anticipation is mitigated by the humorous tone of the text and Delphine Durand’s cartoonish, acrylic illustrations, which then depict Al Pha lugging a sack of letters home to begin to sorting them into an order largely based on associations. “The first one was easy. He chose A, for Al.” Later, “Feeling hungry, Al picked an apple. ‘Mmmm. Delicious.’ All that mmmming led him to the next letter. And that’s double perfect, thought Al. M for middle.” His task complete a few spreads later, Al Pha presents the ordered letters to the king, who sings them in sequence and then names the arrangement in honor of Alpha and his bet.
A fresh take on a tried-and-true topic. (Picture book. 3-5)