Bembo's Zoo: An Animal ABC Book

Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich, Author Henry Holt & Company $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6382-0
This high-concept abecedary, the picture book debut for de Vicq de Cumptich, should delight collectors of stylish picture books and aficionados of the graphic arts. Beautifully designed and executed in a limited palette of aqua, burnt orange, buttery cream, brown and black, the book's visual premise is the exceedingly witty manipulation of letters--in Bembo, a graceful serif font--to create each of the alphabetically correlative animals. Thus, for the letter ""A,"" the artist stacks, tweaks, turns on end and interlaces the letters that spell ""antelope"" to form the creature's outline, and follows with the dextrous placement of the letters for ""bison"" and ""crab,"" and so on all the way through to ""yak"" and ""zebra."" The images bristle with creative ingenuity--a circular fan of lowercase ""L's"" form a lion's mane, interlaced ""W's"" become the feathery design on an owl's wing and ""S's"" laid on their sides connect to suggest the gracefully fluted edge of a scallop's shell. The sassy self-portrait on the dust jacket (which spells out ""Roberto"") extends the conceit. Likely more appealing to an adult sensibility than to children just beginning to decode letters and words, this is an undeniably inventive and eye-catching book. All ages. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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