cover image Operation Alphabet

Operation Alphabet

Al MacCuish, illus. by Luciano Lozano. Thames & Hudson, $19.95 (64p) ISBN 978-0-500-51584-6

MacCuish, a creative director at an ad agency, makes his children’s book debut with a gleeful throwback of a story about the Ministry of Letters, based out of a red mailbox in “the shadow of Big Ben,” where all the words in the world originate. When the ministry receives an urgent call about a boy, Charlie, who is hopelessly unprepared for an upcoming test on the alphabet, its operatives spring into action, their rescue effort involving a train, a predatory cat, and a duchess on a motorbike. Lozano’s loosely rendered illustrations evoke a lively mid–20th-century London, one in which question marks on roller skates serve as switchboard operators and alphabet letters parachute into boys’ bedrooms and perform stage shows to save the day. (Oct.)