cover image A World of Words: An ABC of Quotations

A World of Words: An ABC of Quotations

Tobi Tobias. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12129-7

Readers will find a beguiling treasure trove of aural and visual delights in this abecedarian arrangement of excerpts from poems, letters and prose. Each spread presents one or two words, from Animal to Zoo, which thematically connect one, two or three quotations--each quote notable for the sheer pleasure in language it betrays--paired with a sumptuous portrait that integrates them all. As a compiler, Tobias (Pot Luck) goes beyond the light verse typical of collections for children (although Farjeon, Carroll and Lear appear here); her selections encompass a range both broad and diverse--from the King James Bible to canonical adult poets such as Hughes, Dickinson and Stevens, to anonymous Native American poems. Malone (The Magic Flute) uses a sure, deft hand to create gouache paintings that interpret, rather than simply illustrate the theme. For instance, Malone sets in context a Joel Chandler Harris quote for ""Fire""--""Youk'n hide de fier, but w'at you gwine do wid de smoke?""--with a scene of Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit regarding Uncle Remus as he attempts to hide flames beneath a fire bucket. The artist's pale foreground allows the fully realized characters to appear almost three-dimensional. Equally accomplished is the book's design, with its elegant yet tactile body and display type, and clever spot illustrations which intertwine with the initial letter of each word. A book likely to appeal as much, if not more than, to adults as to children, but one that will be savored by anyone who takes pleasure in the sound of words and the images they inspire. All ages. (Sept.)