cover image ABC Discovery!

ABC Discovery!

Izhar Cohen. Dial Books, $17.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2321-4

British first-time picture-book artist Cohen works the scavenger hunt angle in his paper-over-board abecedary, larding the pages with bait for fledgling readers. Each double spread twins a featured letter and alliterative list of objects with a witty vignette in which the objects are displayed. The cover art, dominated by a banal man-in-the-moon crescent of green cheese, doesn't suggest the inventiveness within. Cohen goes to great lengths to link the mostly disparate ingredients (""cuckoo clock, cucumber, cup"") in his droll watercolors; his tableaux are the visual equivalent of nonsense verse. For the letter ""H,"" for instance, a horse nibbles at a giant ""H"" being clipped from a hedge by a man with a hula hoop who perches on a hat stand, while for ""V,"" a vacuum cleaner, violin, Viking, vulture, and so on explode out of a volcano. Cohen gets a lot of mileage out of this playful approach, and he compounds the rewards at the end, with a series of lists of such prompts as ""Find someone taking a bath in a strange place"" and ""Where is a picture of Africa?"" This nimbly executed alphabet safari will boost early literacy as well as engage the attention of more advanced readers. All ages. (Oct.)