cover image Every Little Letter

Every Little Letter

Deborah Underwood, illus. by Joy Hwang Ruiz. Dial, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-55402-8

This smartly executed fable about embracing difference imagines 26 villages—one representing each letter of the Latin alphabet. The villages are divided by walls, and the letters who live within them prefer it that way: “They knew other letters lurked outside. Different letters.” Underwood (Outside In) begins with a village of Hs; newcomer Ruiz draws a bustling town square full of H-themed vignettes: a hamburger store, a hat store, and myriad speech balloons featuring the same boring greeting: “H.” Secretly, a young lower-case h longs for more and, encountering a small i through a hole in the wall, creates a word: “hi!” Though the adults find out and try to end the socialization, the open-hearted young letters, through paper airplane-sent missives, learn the riches of word-making and set about dismantling walls. Ruiz creates sweet, appealing letters against backgrounds of brightly colored wash. Using letters as characters creates opportunities for pun-making (“the y’s finally got some answers”); more importantly, though, it offers a neutral, easy setting to underline how diversity leads to strength. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Molly O’Neill, Root Literary. (Aug.) [/em]