cover image ABCD: An Alphabet Book of Cats and Dogs

ABCD: An Alphabet Book of Cats and Dogs

Sheila Moxley. Megan Tingley Books, $14.7 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-59240-6

Moxley (illustrator of Stone Girl, Bone Girl) now brings to picture books the photo-collage techniques and motifs that she has developed for a line of greeting cards, wrapping paper, stickers and calendars: she takes snapshots of animals and then riffs on them with cut paper and acrylics and a hipster's sense of irony and faux na vet . Her alphabetical cast of characters includes Deborah the cat, said to ""deliver doughnuts door-to-door."" To a view of a cat's head, Moxley has painted on a cap bearing the name ""Doughnuts Direct"" and a bag of doughnuts, apparently held in the cat's mouth; for the background, she conjures three red houses standing against a magenta sky. There's also Louise, a voluptuous Persian, who ""longs for letters from her love,"" although the expression in her eyes is anything but wistful, and the beagle Oswald, who ""often orders orange juice"" and is made to sit at a lunch counter, sipping juice from a straw. Unfortunately, there's more style than substance here. What ultimately undermines the book is a pervasive visual flatness. These works invariably recall the photos of William Wegman, also an ironist. But readers can believe his Weimaraners are in on the joke. These animals, for the most part, look like they'd rather be somewhere else. Ages 3-8. (Apr.)