A young hero quests for a diamond in this alphabet book for the vintage-gaming set.
In pixelated, retro video game–style art, a plucky adventurer journeys through classic settings and scenarios. Each double-page spread presents one or two letters printed in a box along with the words starting with the letter. The majority indicate items to be found hidden in the image (genre-expected words such as “armor,” “potion,” and “skull” as well as all-around less-conventional words including “antenna” and “invaders”) with occasional action words (“exercise,” “heal,” “jump,” “upswing”). A few letters lend themselves less successfully to illustration (such as the forced “Q” page’s options of “quit” or “quest on”). The story is told through the art, as the hero is joined by a band of fellow sprites to cross the various video game maps. While some page turns offer logical transitions, some feel arbitrary, undermining story cohesion. Violence in the battles is mostly depicted through splashes of nonthreatening color denoting speed or magic attacks. The protagonist has brown hair and racially ambiguous light-brown skin and is joined by a white-presenting Viking type, a dark-skinned adventurer, and a light-skinned adventurer with floppy pink bangs. The fuzziness of the pixelated illustrations and crowded compositions make this a particularly poor offering for use with the typical board-book audience.
While quirky, unconventional, and artfully designed, this has more novelty factor than readability. (Board book. 2-4)