“An exceptionally well-executed, gorgeously illustrated alphabet book full of delightful surprises.”
—Booklist starred review
Newcomer Krans’s wordless alphabet book creates an atmosphere of meditative calm. She works in black ink, devoting meticulous attention to each object, drawing hedgehog quills and jellyfish tendrils with something like scientific precision. An apple, pierced with two arrows, balances atop the letter A. An apple core below attracts ants, and in another bonus the A is argyle. B has a butterfly, a branch, and a braid of dark hair tied with a blue bow. Some letters get full spreads: for F, a fox gazes up at two large goldfish, who swim above it in a way that makes the page seem, bewitchingly, to be made of water. Ferns appear in close-up, and fireflies flicker around the edges. Working together, parents and children will find many things to name and talk about. Even those who go through the book alone may find themselves involuntarily identifying items in the drawings just for the fun of it. A list of objects (and actions) in the back will settle any questions that arise; the unicorn, it points out, is upside-down. Ages 3–7. Agent: Meg Thompson, Thompson Literary Agency. (Jan.)
A wordless alphabet book becomes an identification game.
It’s the ink-and-watercolor illustrations that set this apart from others of its ilk, with striking page compositions that will engage readers. Each capital letter dominates the page, most in double-page spreads and often decorated, with white backgrounds that dramatize the objects it stands for. At first glance there seems to be only one or two items per letter. On a closer look, other items appear. On top of the letter A, for instance, are two arrows piercing a whole apple, while at the bottom, scads of ants attack an eaten apple core. Kids will easily name the apple, ants, and arrows but are likely to miss the argyle plaid that fills in the letter. Other letters are also textured with fabrics or wood. There aren’t many surprises for the “difficult” letters: Q is for Quail, Quarters, Queen, and Quilt pattern; U is for Unicorn (depicted Upside-down); X is for X-ray; Y is for Yarn; and Z is for Zigzag, Zinnia, and Zebra. Even when the items depicted are fairly unimaginative, though, the execution is superb, and the Goose sitting in Grass watching Grasshoppers gambol on the G makes up for a lot. A two-page key at the back identifies each of the items.
On the whole, sophisticated, subtle, and stunning. (Alphabet book. 5-8)