cover image Alphaoops!: The Day Z Went First

Alphaoops!: The Day Z Went First

Alethea Kontis. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2728-7

Making chaos from order may sound like a recipe for disaster, but it also cooks up some entertaining storytelling. In a kind of ""Scrambled States of America ""(by Laurie Keller) for the 26 letters, newcomer Kontis explores the significance of sometimes breaking with routine in this delightful tale about an alphabet gone haywire. ""Z"" declares his disgust at always being at the end (""Zebra and I are ""sick"" of this last-in-line stuff!,"" and the other letters agree to go backwards. Everything starts off smoothly, until ""P"" pipes up after ""W"" as the voice of the forgotten child: ""Even if we go backwards, some of us are still stuck in the middle."" As the letters re-invent their line-up yet again, each tries to outdo the next, showing off more than one word at a time (""B is for big beautiful balloons blowing briskly in the breeze above a bevy of bright blue bouncing balls,"" says ""B""; ""B is also for broom,"" scolds ""Z"", when the balls overtake the stage). Kolar's (""Racer Dogs"") detailed illustrations of their lively antics dominate the spreads, while a colorful border along the bottom attempts to keep pace by spelling out whose turn is next. But before matters can completely spiral out of control, ""A"" aptly uses alliteration to allege her position as top banana. This inventive story delivers a gentle message for kids and adults alike: while routine is a useful management device, it's fun to shake things up every now and then. Ages 4-8. ""(Sept.)"" .