Forget A is for Apple. Here letters appear alongside delightfully ambiguous artwork and phrasing, offering up multitudes of interpretations and variations of story.
Readers know right away this isn’t a traditional ABC book. “THAT’S NOT AN ANSWER” appears on the letter A’s page, with a fierce cat hissing at a bird in flight. Cubist, mildly abstract artwork employs blocks of color, assured linework, and expressive brush strokes to deliver succinct, complex images with astonishing force and embedded meanings. Square pages and lavishly thick paper contribute to this immensely pleasing reading experience as well, nudging readers to run fingers across the beguiling matte illustrations as they revel in deciphering them. Phrases, fragments, exclamations, declarations, and angling adjectives accompany each picture, providing context and catalyzing imaginative analysis. N’s “A NIGHTMARE,” with a lurking animal, partially obscured behind trees, and a worried walker, dressed in red but with a hood looking much like an animal mask, provides ample fodder for decoding—and perhaps for nighttime visions too! Sometimes funny, occasionally eerie, often bizarre, such fantastic images keep readers alert, expectant, and excited.
A visionary alphabet book that seeks to introduce not only letters, but nuanced narratives to eager, unfettered young minds. (Picture book. 3-8)