A wordless alphabet book becomes an identification game.
It’s the ink-and-watercolor illustrations that set this apart from others of its ilk, with striking page compositions that will engage readers. Each capital letter dominates the page, most in double-page spreads and often decorated, with white backgrounds that dramatize the objects it stands for. At first glance there seems to be only one or two items per letter. On a closer look, other items appear. On top of the letter A, for instance, are two arrows piercing a whole apple, while at the bottom, scads of ants attack an eaten apple core. Kids will easily name the apple, ants, and arrows but are likely to miss the argyle plaid that fills in the letter. Other letters are also textured with fabrics or wood. There aren’t many surprises for the “difficult” letters: Q is for Quail, Quarters, Queen, and Quilt pattern; U is for Unicorn (depicted Upside-down); X is for X-ray; Y is for Yarn; and Z is for Zigzag, Zinnia, and Zebra. Even when the items depicted are fairly unimaginative, though, the execution is superb, and the Goose sitting in Grass watching Grasshoppers gambol on the G makes up for a lot. A two-page key at the back identifies each of the items.
On the whole, sophisticated, subtle, and stunning. (Alphabet book. 5-8)