Word Play ABC

Heather Cahoon, Author
Heather Cahoon, Author Walker & Company $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8027-8683-8
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Library Binding - 32 pages - 978-0-8027-8684-5
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In this imaginative debut, Cahoon blends predominantly whimsical puns and keen visual wit. Each spread presents two consecutive letters of the alphabet in a unified composition. To introduce the letter E, for instance, the author-illustrator starts with the word ""eerie."" She then pictures an ethereal green alien with lower-case E's for ears, a kind of ""ear-E"" presence. This E-E.T. flies in a teacup, adding another layer to the joke with the letter F, for ""flying saucer."" Some other memorable images include the letter H's ""home sweet home,"" represented by a beehive dripping with honey, and Q's ""quarter horse,"" a mechanical pony that costs 25 cents a ride. Cahoon's domestic settings and outdoor nature scenes display a deft handling of watercolors: expressive black-ink outlines, varying from crayon-thick to a hair's-width, wrap around warm hues of cornflower yellow, midnight blue and poppy red. Not every page offers an unqualified hit; the letter V serves as prompt for the term ""viewpoint"" and a bland horizon, and the familiar hugs-and-kisses ""XOXO"" appear for the always-problematic letter X. Further, the words accompanying this alphabet may prove mystifying to beginners and the abecedarian format a bit too reductive for advanced readers. Yet anyone who appreciates the verbal dexterity and strong imagery of books like Cathi Hepworth's ANT-ics! will do a double-take at this clever volume, which closes with a glossary and literal translations of its A-to-Z terms. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)
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