ANNO'S ALPHABET: An Adventure in Imagination by Mitsumasa Anno
Kirkus Star

ANNO'S ALPHABET: An Adventure in Imagination

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Handsomely designed and produced, with graceful leafy borders, carefully rendered pictures and, facing them, woodgrain upper case letters that seem to have been lovingly hand carved, this looks like the beautiful sort of book that wins prizes for graphic excellence. And so it is. But you can't expect the creator of Topsy-Turvies (KR, 1970) and Upside-Downers (KR, 1971) to let it go at that, and if you take another look you'll notice the peculiarity of the letters, which resemble, variously, Escher's impossible fork, a partial Mobius strip, and other inconceivable three-dimensional illusions. The trompe l'oeil pictures too are full of tricks, from the axe whose handle is growing out of the stump it is cleaving to the xylophone that could be a staircase, and even the borders hide flora and fauna whose names begin with the featured letter. The jacket flap claims that ""children who learn their ABC's with this book gain, beyond a tool for reading, insights into the arbitrariness not merely of language but of all conceptual systems"" -- a tall order and, we suspect, itself a concept well beyond the reach of preschoolers. Still, it is so elegantly demonstrated here that Anno's Alphabet is well worth launching with the expectation that it will find its own level.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1975
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell