THE HUMAN ALPHABET

The acclaimed American dance troupe Pilobolus uses their extraordinary talents of balance, flexibility and strength to convey the alphabet. Like most alphabet books, the letters are depicted in upper case accompanied by a noun that begins with that letter, such as B for butterfly. The main difference here is that every letter and its noun is formed by twisting, contorting humans. The letters themselves are unique, sometimes verging on ingenious. It’s the accompanying photos that are extremely difficult. They range from ponderous to impossible. They are all so abstract that the young reader they are meant to instruct, though perhaps amazed at the dancer’s bendablity, cannot possibly puzzle out what the letter stands for. Thankfully, there is a code breaker included—otherwise the mystery, in some cases, might never be cracked. The letter N for nest, for example, is still baffling even after one looks up the answer. While the talent and ingenuity of Pilobolus can be applauded, their efforts will be lost on the intended audience. (alphabet key) (Picture book. 3+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-59643-066-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall.

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THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES

This book may not have pictures, but it’s sure to inspire lots of conversations—and laughs.

Television writer, actor and comedian Novak delivers a rare find, indeed: a very good celebrity picture book. It doesn’t even seem fair to call it such, since it has nothing to do with his Emmy Award–winning writing for The Office or the fame his broader career has afforded him. The jacket flap even eschews a glossy photo, instead saying “B.J. has brown hair and blue eyes,” in order to keep with the book’s central conceit. What this book does have is text, and it’s presented through artful typography that visually conveys its changing tone to guide oral readings. Furthermore, the text implies (or rather, demands) a shared reading transaction, in which an adult is compelled to read the text aloud, no matter how “COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS” it is. Employing direct address, it pleads with the implied child listener to allow him or her to stop reading. Nonsense words, silly words to be sung and even a smattering of potty talk for good measure all coalesce in riotous read-aloud fare. Although the closing pages beg the implied child reader to “please please please please / please / choose a book with pictures” for subsequent reading, it’s likely that this request will be ignored.

A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall. (. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4171-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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MISS BINDERGARTEN GETS READY FOR KINDERGARTEN

An inviting look at the first day of school in Miss Bindergarten's class. The simple rhyming text tells how the animal children get ready for the big event; as a bonus, the names of the students are listed alphabetically, each first letter corresponding to its animal type (Jessie is a jaguar, Zak is a zebra, etc.): ``Gwen McGunny/packs her bunny./Henry Fetter/fights his sweater.'' The procession is interspersed with the preparations of Miss Bindergarten, aided by her pet cockatoo, in her classroom. Wolff's fine illustrations add texture to a fairly simple concept. The teacher is depicted as an efficient sheepdog; eager and organized, she tapes notes on her furniture reminding her to ``have fun,'' yet forgets to take the price tag off her dress. The use of extinct animals for the more obscure letters only adds to the fun. In this soothing introduction to an anxiety-filled event, Slate (Who Is Coming to Our House?, 1988, etc.) makes the first day a pleasure for everyone involved. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-525-45446-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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