Books Books by Region Early Readers Features Genre International Lifespan of a Reader Memoirs, Biographies, and Constructed Narratives Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] An Alphabet Mini-Biography in “Alphabetics”

Alphabetics: An Aesthetically Awesome Alliterated Alphabet Anthology by Patrick and Traci Concepcion and illustrated by Dawid Ryski.

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

We are fascinated with ingeniously-crafted and cleverly-done alphabet books. This one is a fairly unique, beautifully-designed title that features make-believe-biographical snippets for each letter of the alphabet.

Alphabetics: An Aesthetically Awesome Alliterated Alphabet Anthology

Written by Patrick and Traci Concepcion Illustrated by Dawid Ryski
Published by Little Gestalten (2014)
ISBN-10: 389955728X
ISBN-13: 9783899557282
Review copy provided by publisher. Book photos taken by me.

Ever since I saw this picturebook shared by a linguist friend of mine, I knew I just had to have it. If you are tired of the usual A is for Apple, B is for Ball type of titles, then this book is for you.

This, right here, is a celebration of the beauty of language, the rhythm of words, the assonance of consonants, the dissonance of diphtongs. It is a playful twist to the alphabet that provides an intelligent alternative to the traditional, common-place (read: boring) manner through which the alphabet is often introduced to young readers.

It also astutely challenges stereotypes, as can be seen in the image above with the couple Harlow and Hans on their hellacious Harley hog. Whoever said big bikes are only for boys can eat their hearts out.

One of the questions I often get asked in my professional development workshops and in my teaching is what age group do I think the picturebooks I booktalk are meant for. I really have trouble answering this type of question.

This book, for instance, defies easy classification. While it may not be ideal for those who are still beginning to learn the alphabet, I feel that it can still work especially with parents who themselves, have fun with language, and are not threatened by the possibility of enriching their children’s vocabulary in such a fun manner, and love reading aloud with a measure of panache.

Often, in our efforts to only introduce texts that make sense, that are simple, and easy to grasp – we miss out on the exquisite texture of language, the cadence of catchy phrases, the brilliance of alliteration. This is a sophisticated, beautifully-designed alphabet book that undoubtedly honours and celebrates that part of your child that revels in nonsense and wordplay.

For other cleverly-created alphabet books that you may wish to check out, here are a few that we have featured over the years:

Once Upon An Alphabet: Short Stories For All The Letters by Oliver Jeffers (see my review here).

Ah-Ha To Zig-Zag by Maira Kalman (see my review here).

Alphabetabum: An Album Of Rare Photographs and Medium Verses by Chris Raschka and Rare Photos and Essay by Vladimir Radunsky (see my review here).

The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey (see my review here).

Alpha by Isabelle Arsenault (see my review here).

#LitWorld2018GB Update: United States of America (Patrick and Traci are from California) and Poland (Dawid Ryski is from Poland)

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] An Alphabet Mini-Biography in “Alphabetics”

  1. This new alphabet book looks wonderful, Myra. And I loved the Jeffers one, too. Thanks for sharing. I wouldn’t have found it otherwise!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love fun alphabet books! Jeffers’s is a favorite; I’ll have to try this one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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