A is for Salad

Mike Lester, Author, Jane O'Connor, Editor, Mike Lester, Illustrator Grosset & Dunlap $9.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-23388-3
Lester (Really, Really, Really Bad Jokes) stands ceremony on its ear in this deviant abecedarian picture book, aimed at an audience who already has a firm grasp of their ABCs. As he breezes through the letters of the alphabet (well, most of them--""X and Y are not important letters. Never use them"" he notes dryly), Lester dreams up a series of flagrantly flawed definitions, which he promptly undercuts with his illustrations. ""A is for salad,"" for instance, shows an alligator eating a bowl of greens, and Lester tosses in a throwaway line after every few letters (""H is for pizza... I think""), adding to irreverent readers' glee. His full-color woodcuts of animal characters that seem to mug for readers' benefit often contribute to the wit, as in ""G is for soccer,"" which shows a goat butting a soccer ball. But a few may be difficult to discern (e.g., ""J is for hats"" spotlights jellyfish whose identities are somewhat camouflaged by their chapeaux), and one illustration works against the conceit he's set up: in the vignette for ""I can't figure out what Q is for. Can you?"" all signs (""Look! It's a Quail!"") point to the tiny, startled bird itself. The literal-minded will be happy to note that the animals reappear on the endpapers, along with their rudimentary labels (""K is also for kangaroo"" and so on). A fun cavort through the 26 letters. All ages. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-24737-5
Paperback - 40 pages - 978-0-698-11926-0
Prebound-Glued - 28 pages - 978-0-613-85667-6
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