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ALPHABEST by Helaine Becker


The Zany, Zanier, Zaniest Book about Comparatives and Superlatives

by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dave Whamond

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-55453-715-0
Publisher: Kids Can

An alphabetical romp through an amusement park strives to illuminate comparatives and superlatives.

A bumbling klutz of a superhero chases a villain through an amusement park, the text consisting of 25 comparatives and superlatives describing their attacks on each other and the sights, sounds, textures and tastes of the park. ("Unique," appropriately, stands alone.) “Clever” is the superhero following a footprint trail. The villain is “cleverer,” slipping onto a Ferris-wheel–like ride. But the superhero is “cleverest,” setting the ride to “hyper drive,” which sends the dizzy villain flying. The story may take readers a while to catch on to, and not all the comparatives and superlatives make the most sense, or are the best of examples (the "yummy" page is all junk food). Backmatter gives a down-and-dirty version of the rules for forming comparatives and superlatives, but it is not a comprehensive guide; exceptions are not noted, and the rules given will lead to many incorrectly formed words. Whamond’s ink-and-watercolor cartoon illustrations are the true stars, his over-the-top scenes carrying the story with lots of humorous details that are sure to have kids chuckling. Expressive body language and facial expressions, especially pop-eyes, make the characters come to life.

The imaginative twist at the end makes this more likely to be picked up for a repeat reading, but not necessarily for the grammar lesson. (Picture book. 4-8)