A Call for a New Alphabet

Jef Czekaj, Illustrator
Jef Czekaj, Charlesbridge, $12.95 (44p) ISBN 978-1-58089-228-5; $5.95 trade paper ISBN 978-1-58089-229-2
Reviewed on: 01/10/2011
Release date: 02/01/2011
Paperback - 48 pages - 978-1-58089-229-2
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Students struggling with the quirks of the English language might appreciate this alphabetical revolution, proposed by a dissatisfied letter X. "I always end up at the back of the book with a picture of an X ray and a xylophone. Why don't more words start with me?" he gripes. To persuade his 25 peers to rearrange their roles and order, he points out various grammatical conventions that make their lives predictable ("Q, aren't you bored to tears at being stuck next to U?"). The letters agree to vote on reassignment, but in an extended dream sequence X discovers unforeseen complications. Imagining himself as an S, he realizes that pluralization isn't so simple ("sheep" needs no S, "fox" needs an E and an S), and he is further baffled by silent letters and letters with multiple sounds. Czekaj (Hip & Hop, Don't Stop!), who has a degree in linguistics, offers textual and visual alliteration aplenty (H wears a hard hat and high heels). Despite the book's clunky title, the comic book–style cartoons (and humor) should please budding wordsmiths. Ages 6–9. (Feb.)
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