What’s annoying? Adelaide annoys Bailey when she runs at him wearing her tiger costume, scaring him and causing him to let the gerbil out of its cage.
So begins a rollicking preschool/early-elementary romp featuring kids who appear in alphabetical order with a corresponding action as Adelaide sets off a domino effect. “Bailey blamed Clyde. / Clyde cried. / Dexter drooled on Eloise. / Eloise elbowed Flora. / Flora fumed.” The pandemonium that ensues is a clever visual narrative loaded with details, such as the gerbil-escape subplot. The hilarity lies in the illustrations, typical Emberley style, done in mechanical pencil and watercolors. Children (and Miss Mabel, the teacher) in the alphabetical spotlight are rendered in full color, while the other characters are in black and white against colored backgrounds. The kids sport a variety of skin colors, hairdos and clothing, with one girl (Ida) in a wheelchair. How does the mayhem resolve? When Zelda zaps Adelaide with the water hose, Adelaide, as instigator, apologizes, and so does everyone else. For the trickier letters, Q is Quentin; X is Xavier; Y is Yves. One read-through will simply not be enough to enjoy all the fun. This would make a splendid project for a classroom to make up their own alphabetical list of names.