Friday, October 12, 2007

The Alphabet From A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! : A Review That Rambles On For A While And Then Finally Gets Down To It For A Paragraph Or Two

Article by Scott and Nancy Tingley, October 12, 2007

I wonder if he would sign it for me. I wonder if he would actually sign it for me. He’s rushing for a plane and I pull out a copy of The Alphabet From A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! He stops in his tracks – the shock of someone having his new children’s book in his hand in an airport being too odd to pass without acknowledging - and signs my book “To my new best friend, the guy in the airport. Love Steve Martin”


Sorry – I went somewhere for a second. Confirming that he is one of the coolest celebrities on the planet, I once heard that when rushed he won’t sign autographs, but he will give you a personalized business card that says: “'This certifies that you've had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite and colorful.”

I want to ambush him. At an airport. Book in hand. Maybe not.

Odd wandering thought #2. I should have written this whole review in alliteration. Whenever a Superman comic featuring Bizarro gets reviewed there very often is a section of the piece dedicated to talking in Bizarro speak: (taken from Wikipedia) "Me am going to kill you" would mean "I will save you" in Bizarro speech, etc…..


We are about 200 words into a review of The Alphabet From A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! and I haven’t actually done any reviewing yet. Better get to it.

The Alphabet From A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! is a new children’s book by superstar Steve Martin (Did you know he has Grammy’s for his banjo playing?) and longtime New Yorker artist Roz Chast. I am always dubious when I come across a storybook written by a celebrity, but I really like Martin’s work and I knew that he had written a number of books and screenplays so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Aren’t I wonderful?

This clever alphabet book is written using alliteration and an art style that I am not sure will appeal to younger readers, but will to an older crowd – grade 5 or so and up. I’m not sure if that is where the creators were going with this, but I think it is a good idea. Not everyone in upper elementary school is a good reader, and not everyone wants to be caught reading Dr. Seuss’ ABC. The difficult word choices, style of art and subject matter make this well suited for an upper elementary lesson on alliteration, or as an ESL reading selection.

You can see a few pages by downloading this PDF from Doubleday.

That said, I know I had to read it twice as soon as my 3 year old daughter saw it in the mail. So what do I know? I’ll let you knbow what my grade 3 students think when I bring it in for them. I won’t use them for my reviews directly, but I would be interested in what they think of it – and maybe so would you.

Look for the “wrapping paper” in the inside covers for the letters that didn’t actually make the cut (like the umlaut). I could use another book to just tell me what they are.

Funny thing. I jumbled the letters to alphabet earlier and came up with analphabet. I noticed that the computer thought it was a correctly spelled word, so I looked it up. Apparently, analphabet mean: an illiterate person who does not know the alphabet.


The Alphabet From A to Y With Bonus Letter Z!

Written by Steve Martin and Roz Chast
Juvenile Fiction | Flying Dolphin Press | Hardcover | October 2007 | $17.95 | 978-0-385-51662-4 (0-385-51662-2)