Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet

Paul Thurlby, Author, Paul Thurlby, Illustrator
Paul Thurlby. Candlewick/Templar, $16.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5565-5
Reviewed on: 08/15/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Debut talent Thurlby, a British graphic artist, goes from Awesome to Zip in this vintage-style ABC, which began as a self- directed project online that gained attention on design blogs. In “C for Catch,” a pair of arms forms a C to cradle a soccer ball. In “E for Embrace,” two Es face each other, smiling and meshed together like puzzle pieces, recalling 1970s “Love Is...” kitsch. The extended lines of F (fierce) and V (vicious) become biting jaws, a capital R shapes the head and legs of a seated rabbit, a K is imagined as the arms and legs of a karate student, and Y becomes a yoga pose. Thurlby works in multimedia collage, and his graph-paper backgrounds look creased and speckled by age. His flat, matte serigraph-style digital illustrations—with mock-Space Age cartoons and saturated hues of fire-engine red, navy, cantaloupe, and turf-green—resemble wrinkled and disintegrating clips from midcentury advertising, perhaps uncovered by a browsing thrift-shopper. Notwithstanding his kid-unfriendly book title (and the lack of ethnic diversity in his throwback art), Thurlby’s pop imagery and millennial vocabulary should grab young imaginations. Ages 3–up. (Oct.)
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