This atypical alphabet book humorously addresses “mischievous words” that ignore the rules of phonetics and spelling.
Silent letters can be confusing when trying to sound out difficult words. The book’s initial advice is to “just ignore that pesky first letter and sound out the rest of the word.” Examples of these include “bdellium,” “czar,” and “Djibouti.” The silent “n” in words such as “autumn” and “solemn” is also pointed out. Each letter’s sample is illustrated with cartoony, full-color drawings followed by a comically absurd sentence highlighting other examples. “G is for Gnocchi. / The gnome yells, ‘Waiter! There’s a bright white gnat nibbling on my gnocchi!’ ” A helpful glossary with pronunciation guide and a few additional factoids explains the thorny or strange words. Some of the letter/sound examples do stretch the theme and, while funny, may create some confusion. “L is not for Elle” talks about the “el train halfway to El Paso”; “R is not for Are” reviews the stereotypically British elision of R’s in such words as “butterfly,” “shark,” or “lizard”; and “V is for Five” is about roman numerals (“How Roman-tic!”). The cartoons are populated by animals and humans who represent a variety of skin tones.
Though perhaps more playful than practical, the concept will help new readers and new English language learners conquer some of the more peculiar aspects of our language. (Picture book. 7-12)