The Graphic Alphabet

by David Pelletier

David Pelletier's The Graphic Alphabet

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 3-Adult

New ways to remember your letters

You say A is for Apple? Well, then I say B is for Boring.

David Pelletier brings a graphic designer's sensibility to this old business of alphabet and gives us a new way of seeing.

In this book, A is for Avalanche, as pieces of the letter itself cascade from its once pointy peak. (Look up and to your left to see this image on the book's cover.)

D in red

D is for Devil, as you can see, when you roll the letter onto its stomach, paint it bright red, and polish its horns - I mean, serifs - to a prickly point. And J is for Juggle, which is what has to happen when you give the poor letter not one but seven dots to keep in the air.

Pelletier turns the letters into mnemonic devices, which may help your youngster remember them or may just be good fun. This book is gorgeous enough that it just doesn't matter. (Author-Illustrator Pelletier won a 1997 Caldecott Honor for his efforts.)

The book is something of a thoughtful cross between the playful Chicka Chicka Boom Boom that has delighted youngsters since 1989, and Alphabet City, Stephen T. Johnson's Caldecott Honor book from 1996, which spots the letters of the alphabet hidden in a cityscape.

The Graphic Alphabet is half alphabet book, half coffee table book, the kind of gorgeous kids' book that'll make you say, "Go wash your hands before you touch that!"

More Caldecott honorees.

More of Steve's reviews.

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