Alligator Alphabet

Stella Blackstone, Author, Stephanie Bauer, Illustrator , illus. by Stephanie Bauer. Barefoot $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-84148-494-5

Blackstone's (the Cleo the Cat series) minimal, workmanlike text ("Cc is for camel. Chase us if you dare!") takes a backseat to newcomer Bauer's vibrant and exuberantly brush-stroked acrylics. The paintings have a naïf quality, with their thickly applied paints, often underpainted, with perhaps the tip of the brush handle used to strip away some of the outer layer, adding dimension and texture. Each spread links the letter to its corresponding animal with some fanciful interaction: a turquoise mommy and baby emu with golden plumage contemplate an egg tucked inside the crook of a lowercase e ; a fluffy white little llama and honey-hued lion cub lick a candylike letter l as their parents look on, beaming. There are no real surprises or creative alphabet pairings here, and unlike many contemporary animal-based primers, this one contains no afterword of "fun facts" on its subjects. Rather, the appeal of this book is strictly aesthetic: the saturated, fluorescent acrylics and genially rudimentary shapes brim with good cheer, while tacitly saluting readers' own artistic instincts. All ages. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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