Amid the flood of alphabet books, now and then one rises to the surface. This one is a prize catch.
In a distinctive, refreshing approach, the text takes a word and subtracts one letter, turning it into a different word. “Without the A / the BEAST is the BEST.” The stylized illustration on the double-page spread gives form to the concept by depicting a photographer (a buzzard) focusing on the winners of a competition: A monster wearing a “Scariest and Hairiest” sash stands in first place, with a goose and fish in second and third. “Without the B / the BRIDE goes for a RIDE.” A worried-looking buck holding a balloon and a doe wearing a bridal veil are riding on a Ferris wheel. Now picture these: The chair has hair; the dice are ice; plants are pants; the crab hails a cab; and so on. All of the figures are animals fashioned with touches of humor; a white mouse pops in and out throughout the scenes. For Q, the word “faquir” (a turbaned tiger) attends a “fair”; for X, “foxes” become “foes.” The artwork is deceptively simple; subtle details betray its sophistication. Altogether, the fascinating illustrations, crafty composition and tall format give the book real flair.
Without a doubt, these inventive images are imaginative and engaging—chock full of inspiration for kids to try their own wordplay and a boon to teachers. (Alphabet picture book. 7-10)