“A” is for more than just Apple in this exuberant and interactive alphabet book from the creators of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
“A is for Apple…” but what else does it stand for? There are Avalanches of things that start with “A”: Artichokes! Airplanes! Aliens! What about C? D? E, F, and G? There are Cans of things that start with C, Dozens of Ds, Endless Es, whole Flocks of Fs, and, you guessed it, Globs of Gs. No sir, this is not your typical alphabet book. Filled with clever alliteration and vibrant illustrations, readers can sleuth their way through this vocabulary-expanding picture book and just might find their vocabulary reaching…excessive…heights.
Judi Barrett is the author of many beloved books for children, including the bestselling Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Pickles to Pittsburgh, Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, Lots More Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, Santa from Cincinnati, and An Excessive Alphabet. She teaches art to kindergarten students at a school in her Brooklyn neighborhood.
Ron Barrett is the internationally bestselling illustrator of many books for children, including Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Pickles to Pittsburgh, Superhero Joe, Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, Lots More Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, and An Excessive Alphabet. His illustrations have been honored by the Society of Illustrators and have been exhibited at The Louvre in Paris. He lives in New York City.
In this alphabet book, letter identification is combined with a seek-and-find game.The subtitle, "Avalanches of As to Zillions of Zs," sets the stage. The opening page depicts a landslide of items beginning with the letter A (ark, animals, anchor, etc.) along with many A's, both upper- and lowercase. The following pages follow suit. For example, "Cans of Cs" shows a closet out of which spills a slew of cans containing both C's and C words: cow, couch, crab, camel, crayons, etc. As with most alphabet books, some pages work better than others. It will take a sophisticated eye to figure out that the "Endless Es" are a series of diminishing-in-perspective squares being painted by an artist at his easel. Most of the descriptions indicate some kind of quantity or collection. "Flocks of Fs" fly in the sky; "Globs of Gs" ooze gummily; "Oodles of Os" float in bowls of soup; "Quarts of Qs," oddly, listen to a string quartet. The "King-size Ks" that loom over a king, kiwi, and box of Kleenex are something of an anomaly, but kids aren't likely to notice. The most challenging is likely the "Herds of Hs," with lower- and uppercase H's marked like Holsteins standing in a field. The only legend is on the endpapers, which lists each of the objects in a running litany. Young puzzle fans will find that this teases their perceptions and taunts their imaginations. (Picture book. 6-9)
– Kirkus Reviews, 7/15/16
With their customary exuberance, the Barretts shovel a heaping helping of letters, along with dozens of things whose names begin with said letters, into 26 busy cartoon scenes. A cascade of cans containing a cow, a cupcake, carrots, and crayons tumbles out of a closet on the page for the letter C; an iguana, ice cream, and an igloo float on an island of Is; a walrus, a witch, and other workers wallow in “whopping amounts of Ws.” Unlike John Nickle’s Alphabet Explosion (2006) and most other ABCs of this sort, there are no hints or labels on the pages themselves about what all the individual objects are, but the end pages feature a complete index (in words only, not images) of the included items. The pictures aren’t so populous or tangled with distractions that young viewers who are still working on identification skills will go away frustrated. A final page offers a jumble of items, sending young readers to search for them in the previous pages for a mild challenge. — John Peters
– Booklist online, August 18, 2016
What this alphabet book lacks in plot, it makes up for in energetic search-andfind illustrations—and hilarity. The Barretts explore the alphabet with one colorful, Chwast-like picture after another. For example, “Avalanches of As” shows a bunch of As (both lowercase and uppercase) consorting with a wild assortment of pictures of A words: apple, ant, airplane, addition, angel, artichoke, acorn, etc. This particular page’s illustrations are muted purples, pinks, and oranges; however, each letter of the alphabet gets its own color scheme, which adds to the high-energy feel. Every page follows the same pattern—Boatloads of Bs, Cans of Cs, Dozens of Ds, and so on. One test of an alphabet book is the letter Q. Here it’s “Quarts of Qs,” with quart containers containing some of the traditional Q words: quilt, quarterback, quack, quill, and question. Not bad, especially when the other pages tickle the funny bone with Umpteen Us or Endless Es (inspired by Escher, no less) and Gobs of Gs. The final page is made up of items found in the previous pages to go back and search for. Not many actual words appear in all (the pictures do most of the talking), but the book is lots of fun to pore over.
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