cover image Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters

Oliver Jeffers. Philomel, $26.99 (112p) ISBN 978-0-399-16791-1

With wry humor, equally droll ink illustrations, and a solid dose of alliteration, Jeffers (the Hueys series) creates delightful mini-narratives for each letter of the alphabet. In the B story, "Burning a Bridge," the antagonistic relationship between neighbors Bernard and Bob reaches a breaking point: "But Bob learned an important lesson that day" after he burns down the bridge separating their homes%E2%80%94and traps himself on Bernard's side. In addition to the rampant alliteration in the stories and poems ("Mary is made of matter./ So is her mother./ And her mother's moose"), Jeffers's illustrations are full of unnamed people and objects that correspond to each letter, providing opportunities for interactive reading. Grim touches appear here and there%E2%80%94because half of Helen's house fell into the sea, getting up on the wrong side of the bed proves disastrous%E2%80%94but the overall mood is one of playful mischief. One thing is certain: if Jeffers's determined problem-solving duo, Owl and Octopus%E2%80%94who pop up throughout, rescuing drowning cucumbers and recovering stolen x-ray glasses%E2%80%94don't get to headline future books of their own, it'll be downright criminal. Ages 3%E2%80%935. (Oct.)