cover image From Acorn to Zoo: And Everything in Between in Alphabetical Order

From Acorn to Zoo: And Everything in Between in Alphabetical Order

Satoshi Kitamura. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-32470-4

The latest offering from the gifted creator of When Sheep Cannot Sleep and UFO Diary is, more than a child-oriented alphabet book, a specialized catalogue filled with unconventional items such as aubergine, anemone, eider and ocarina. The eclectic word mix leads to something akin to surrealism--on the book's U spread, for example, Kitamura brings together an umpire and a uniformed baseball player to share a landscape with an umbrella, a ukulele, a UFO, a unicorn and some underwear. The meticulously detailed illustrations, often of rather alienated-looking creatures, are boldly drawn in Kitamura's signature eccentric style, though their frequently tiny scale renders them less than ideal for the alphabet-book set. (Adding to this shortcoming, the items pictured are labeled in very small print.) Many of the birds, such as the linnet and ibis, do not reside in the U.S., and British terminology may prove confusing--the baby wears a nappy, people queue up for a bus. Despite the book's flaws, adult readers will be charmed by the ironic undercurrents of the slender text, and sophisticated children may well be kept busy by its abundance. Ages 3-8. (May)