ALPHABETICAL ORDER by Tiphaine Samoyault


How the Alphabets Began
Age Range: 8 - 11
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Flashy design and boldly colored graphics give this short, heavily illustrated look at the variety and history of alphabets instant visual appeal; sequences showing the development of pictograms to abstract signs seem lit from behind, and each member of more than a dozen alphabets is separately boxed in a dazzling color. Samoyault (Give Me A Sign!, 1997) opens with a discussion of the occasionally intuitive relationship between letters and actual sounds (she includes syllabaries in her definition of alphabet). She then goes on to summarize the history of writing, including the Mesopotamian transmogrification of pictures into cuneiform, the later appearance of Greek and related alphabets, the effects of the introduction of movable type, and letters as art, closing with a passage from Kipling’s Just So story, “How The Alphabet Was Made.” It’s a minor survey—e.g., neither Cherokee nor Japanese appear on the alphabetic family tree—and the impact of computer-assisted design, while evident on every page, is not explicitly described, but readers will find it impossible not to linger over the galleries of Devanagari, Braille, Etruscan, Japanese katakana, and the rest. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-670-87808-1
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1998