Although most alphabet books can be enjoyed by the youngest readers, this sophisticated alphabet book aims for an older audience.
Using alliteration, illuminated letters, and illustrations, Bond highlights an animal and musical instrument for each letter. Most wordplay trips off the tongue (“Gelatinous Jellyfish / jingle and jangle / with Jumbles of bells / they jauntily dangle” and “A trio of Turtles / in rhythmic debut / toot Tuba and Trumpet / and Trombone for you”), but some is forced (“Melodious Mice / strum lullabies sweet / on small Mandolins / with the claws on their feet”). There is no glossary to help with the numerous undefined musical terms, such as “ballad,” “concerto,” and “fantasia.” Full-page illustrations in pen and ink with watercolor are detailed, realistic, and usually humorous. The nightingales with furled wings and the intricate, golden, chain mail–like patterns on the “quirky quirquinchos” (pronunciation provided) are exquisite. A gracefully reclining giraffe wears a garland of flowers while strumming a guitar. The washboard-playing walrus is wistfully wonderful. However, careful readers will also note that a panda is not a bear (letter B), and they may be surprised to see a brass bass clarinet is depicted rather than the typical ebony stick.
For children who play with words or patiently pore over pictures. (Picture book. 5-8)