The Human Alphabet

Pilobolus, Author, John Kane, Photographer , photos by John Kane. Roaring Brook $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-066-2

The dance troupe Pilobolus favors bold, acrobatic combinations of folding and unfolding bodies—just the right group to literally form the letters of the alphabet. Dressed in jewel-colored leotards and presented against a white backdrop, 14 dancers take turns being the legs of a K , the curving tail of a J or the angles of an N . Each page features the smaller picture of a posed letter, and a larger picture in which the group creates an image whose name begins with that letter—unlabeled, so children can guess what the picture portrays. Some depend on shrunken or manipulated images (the yo-yo for Y depicts a dancer holding a string from which a tiny image of two other dancers curled around each other dangles). The best, though, use simple, unaltered groups of figures: a Dinosaur (two dancers balanced on a third to form the body of a Tyrannosaurus rex, the topmost with hands outstretched claw-wise, a delighted snarl on her face), a Giant (one dancer on another's shoulders, the feet of the lower one sticking out from a huge black coat), and a Mirror, with two dancers opposite each other, viewer and her reflection, with just their index fingers touching. A list of answers appears in the back in case some elude the reader—although few will. The endpapers, which reproduce all the posed letters in one spread, are the most charming of all (especially the tiny baby that acts as the tail of the Q ). Ages 3-7. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!