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MATTHEW A.B.C. by Peter Catalanotto Kirkus Star


by Peter Catalanotto & illustrated by Peter Catalanotto

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: June 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-84582-0
Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

The backgrounds to the illustrations in Catalanotto’s inspired alphabet book may remind readers of Mark Rothko’s paintings, but the portraits of the characters in the foregrounds of the bifurcated color fields are uniformly droll. Mrs. Tuttle’s kindergarten class has 25 students, all named Matthew, and most with jug ears and gap-toothed smiles. How does she tell them apart? Matthew A. is affectionate and Matthew B. is fond of Band-Aids. C. has a wild cowlick, and D. believes he’s a duck. On through the alphabet Catalanotto marches, sometimes looking for laughs, as with Matthew of the high pants, at other rare times a touch of the gross, as with Matthew of the leaks, where a trickle of mucus purls down his lip. Some highfalutin’ words are amiably insinuated—Matthew incognito and Matthew perplexed—while some of the visual interpretations are simply classic, like Matthew moody, who is both well-mannered (signaled by the raised pinkie of one hand holding a glass) and ill- (by sticking the thumb of the other into a cupcake). Matthew tense has a painful rictus that will have readers falling off their chairs laughing. When a new boy is introduced to the class—Matthew, of course—his pants and jacket are blazing with zippers. Just what the class needed. A stunning play of art and verbal imagination. (Picture book. 4-6)