in which i share two excessively entertaining alphabet books

#54 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Few things are more delightful than discovering good alphabet books, and by “good,” I mean those that have original hooks, are a little quirky, do justice to the tricky letters ‘q’ ‘x’, and ‘z’, and compel me to take a second and third look. Because there are so many alphabet books out there already, creators have to be extra clever and innovative. Here’s one that celebrates pasta under the big top, and another that’s alphabetically effusive in ways too numerous to count.

Juana Medina admits she ate a lot of pasta while making ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet (Viking, 2017). What could be better than an alphabet good enough to eat?! Love the circus theme and meeting all 26 of the perky performers, who gambol, juggle, race, pirouette, and cavort through the pages with the greatest of ease.

Medina created them using real photographs of pasta-related foods incorporated into zesty digital drawings, and they are introduced with temptingly toothsome alliterative phrases, fun-to-read tongue twisters that are quite a mouthful.

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hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: Elisha Cooper

I write and illustrate children’s books, and other books. I live in Greenwich Village with my family, though I spend a lot of time in Brooklyn, writing in cafes and drinking too much coffee. (Pictured here with my espresso machine and our lazy barista.)

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: Stumptown, Hair Bender beans. My morning Cortado.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: 8: An Animal Alphabet (Orchard Books, 2015).

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK(s): Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (Puffin, 2002), or, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins, 1996).

☕☕ Visit Elisha Cooper’s Official Website

☕☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Check out Elisha’s Facebook Author Page for very cool behind-the-scenes tidbits about 8: An Animal Alphabet.

☕☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Elisha discusses the genesis of 8: An Animal Alphabet and shares wonderful pics and sketches at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

 

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[Review and Author Chat] Samantha R. Vamos on Alphabet Trains

#52 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

 

Tear the ticket.
Load the freight.
Sound the whistle.
Raise the gate.

Clank! Chug-chug! Whoosh!

Alphabet trains.

 

Art © 2015 Ryan O’Rourke

All Aboard, Letter-lovin’ Railroad Buffs!

Author Samantha R. Vamos is here to tell us all about her clickety-clack-cool new rhyming picture book Alphabet Trains (Charlesbridge, 2015)!

Not too long ago, we had so much fun cruising and vrooming through Alphabet Trucks (Charlesbridge, 2013), that we were pretty excited when this shiny new book hit the rails.

Since I’m especially fond of trains (blame it on the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” and the fact that I met my husband in London while he was designing a railroad in Algeria), I was anxious to ask Samantha a few questions about writing and researching this 26-track gem.

 

A is for Auto Train,
Load your car on the rack.

B is for bullet train —
high speed on welded track.

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Maira Kalman’s Ah-hA to Zig-Zag, a cool puzzle, and the cutest eyebrows on earth

#52 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

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“Isn’t that the only way to curate a life? To live among things that make you gasp with Delight?” ~ Maira Kalman

 

A.

Ah-hA!

TheRe You Are.

Are you ready
to REAd the

Alphabet?

perhAps you should
put on youR
ThinKing
CAP
(but don’t think too much)

 

Pretty much everything Maira Kalman does makes me gasp with delight.

I don’t know how she does it, or why it happens, but with each new book that delight intensifies. I am convinced she must eat magical cakes or a proliferation of napoleons prepared by exceedingly handsome mustachioed pastry chefs, or as in the case of this particular picture book, artfully burnt toast and ginger tea (steeped in whimsy).

In Ah-hA to Zig-Zag, her new alphabet book written especially for kids and the forever young at heart, the letter A stands for CAP, F for a hat From France that is “fluffy and frothy and fantastic and funny,” and Q for “quite the toaster.”

Though the book cleverly spotlights “31 Funny Excellent Beautiful Surprising Helpful Amazing Objects” from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC (to celebrate its re-opening in December 2014), only three objects actually begin with their corresponding letters — Pocket, Umbrella, and Zig-Zag (Chair). 

But that’s just what makes this book so totally Maira. Instead of the conventional, “A is for Apple” format, this alphabet à la Maira is an idiosyncratic commentary, an affectionate conversation with YOU where she free associates with her chosen objects in funny, unexpected, and surprisingly profound ways. We get a good dose of those 26 beautiful letters alright, along with a fascinating design history primer spanning centuries.

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friday feast: cruisin’ along with alphabet trucks by samantha r. vamos and ryan o’rourke

#48 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Look what just zoomed in — a spiffy convoy of hardworking trucks all featured in a brand new picture book by Samantha R. Vamos and Ryan O’Rourke!

Start the engines.
Lift and load.
Shift the gears and
hit the road.

Vroom! Rumble! Zoom!
Alphabet Trucks.

Maybe you’re already wondering: could there actually be a different kind of truck for each letter of the alphabet? What about Q, V,  X, and Z? We all know how much they love to cause trouble.

Relax. Clever Samantha has got those rascals covered, and along with the familiar pickup truck, tow truck, and cement mixer, she throws in quite a few less commonly known vehicles to keep things interesting: knuckle-boom truck, lowboy, winch truck.

(click to enlarge)

A is for apple truck,
carting produce to the store.

B is for box truck,
with a rolling rear door.

They’re all described in jaunty rhyming couplets that explain each truck’s job, while O’Rourke’s crackerjack retro-style illustrations show the trucks in action, two per double page spread. Young readers will enjoy studying each scene, especially because the upper and lower case letters take on a life of their own — sitting in apple trees, bouncing along the street, being picked up by a crane or carried by movers one by one.

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