cover image A Helpful Alphabet of Friendly Objects

A Helpful Alphabet of Friendly Objects

John Updike. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-679-84324-5

In addition to illustrious name of Updike, this extraordinary alphabet book offers numerous rewards-poems that are by turns thoughtful and lively; crisp photographs that seem both familiar and new; and a book design so fresh and appealing as to ensure repeat readings. Each poem and photograph describes ordinary things-apple, cat, eggs, shoes and socks-in language and images playfully accessible to preschoolers. ``At evening/ when the grass is dewy,'' reads the poem for ``R,'' ``out hops the rabbit/ feeling chewy.'' For the letter H, a photo shows a boy crouched beside a gleaming chrome hubcap in which his image is reflected ``stretched sideways like gum.'' Clever design elements begin with bright endpapers that repeat the interior photographs and letters; within, the typeface in ``D'' changes with each word comparing dogs and cats (a dog is ``jumpier,'' its tail is ``thumpier,'' etc.) in a kind of visual onomatopoeia; the words of the K-is-for-knot poem loop and meander to mimic ``the thing that happens to string''; the photos appear in ovals and circles as well as standard squares and rectangles. This book is an introduction not only to letters but to looking at people and objects ``as if you were/ inside them for a ride.'' Ages 3-8. (Aug.)