cover image Alphababies


DK Publishing, Kim Golding. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $9.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2529-4

This abecedary confection, Golding's debut, combines photos of multiracial toddlers with highly stylized, computer-generated costumes, letters and settings. To illustrate the letter V, for example, a toddler's face is collaged atop a snappy tuxedo-and-tails ensemble, and he seems to wave a maestro's baton at a row of stick-figure violinists. The wee mermaid perched on a bubbly letter M sports a sleek, iridescent tail and luxuriously synthesized carrot-colored tresses topped with a crown. Some of the letters are cleverly costumed as well: the letter X, which here represents that old alphabet standby, the X-ray, is wallpapered in a motif of bones. The rhyming text doesn't sing with originality, but it is succinct and sufficiently catchy, with each rhyme completed across a single spread: ""I is an igloo made from ice blocks/ J is for Jack who lives in a box."" In a few compositions, the blending of child and computer art is awkward (especially where some of a child's limbs look photographed and others look computer-generated) and not all the letters are evenly integrated into the vignettes. The palette, too, runs to techno-colors, heightening the otherworldly, even eerie effect. But for the most part the conceit works, offering plenty of appeal to the dress-up instincts of the very young. Ages 2-5. (Sept.)