August 28, 2015

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for all the Letters by Oliver Jeffers

"If words make up stories, and letters make up words, then stories are made of letters. In this menagerie we have stories, made of words, made for all the letters."

In Once Upon an Alphabet Oliver Jeffers, beloved illustrator of The Day the Crayons Quit and recently released The Day the Crayons Came Home, creates an enhanced take on children's alphabet books. While each letter is associated with a word or phrase ("Aa, Edmund was an astronaut"), he adds humorous stories that illustrate each relationship ("Although there was a problem...Edmund had a fear of heights").

While reading the book, I laughed out loud at several of the mini stories like "Bb" for Bob and Bernard who burned the bridge between them but got stuck on the same side, "Kk" for the King of France who goes out to dance and forgets to bring his keys, and "Pp" for the puzzled parsnip who's having an identity crisis.

Many of the letters' stories interconnect. Readers learn the answer to "Ee" for enigma ("How many elephants can you fit inside an envelope?") when they get to "Nn" for "nun" or nearly nine thousand, depending upon how kids join in with Jeffers' wordplay and the illustrations on the page. "Ll" for lightning-struck lumberjack makes a reappearance on the page illustrations for "Uu" an underground monkey and "Oo" for the problem-solving team of Owl and Octopus help save the day for "Ss" a cucumber who wanted to see if he'd sink or swim.

Jeffers' ink on paper illustrations are bright and striking to the eye and his line-drawn characters are very fun and clever.

Once Upon an Alphabet is a clever picture book for preschoolers through first-graders, as well as for their parents, teachers, librarians, and babysitters.

Hardcover | Kindle

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