cover image The Alphabet from Z to a: With Much Confusion on the Way

The Alphabet from Z to a: With Much Confusion on the Way

Judith Viorst. Atheneum Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31768-2

Progressing through the alphabet in an unorthodox direction, Viorst's breezy roundup of words focuses on a number of the English language's curiosities and inconsistencies. Included are sound-alike letters (``Q is for Queue, but not CUE''; ``J is for JEWEL but not GEM''); silent letters (``T's for TURKEY, / But back in the dinosaur days lived a bird / Named--help!--PTERODACTYL''); and homophones (``I is for I (But not EYE) / And for ISLE but not AISLE''). Refreshingly, Viorst's offers anything but a basic introduction to phonetics: ``P is for PHONE, PHILODENDRON, / and PHYSICAL fitness, / Which only counts half. / Wish we could spell the word PHITNESS, / But they won't permit it.'' Rather, her verse is a pleasing blend of playfulness and sophistication--qualities also present in Hull's lapidary art. Rendered in acrylics, his detailed, often fantastical pictures cleverly incorporate the items mentioned in Viorst's rhymes--as well as a devilish number of other objects that begin with the spotlighted letter (a list of these at book's end will let readers check their acumen). It all makes for good (and vocabulary-building) phun. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)