cover image PICTURE A LETTER


Brad Sneed, . . Penguin Putnam/Fogelman, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2613-0

A veritable feast for the eye, this inventive abecedary is crammed with visual delights. Sneed (Smoky Mountain Rose) blends paints and pencils for a series of tantalizing spreads chock-full of letter-coded objects. A quick scan of the "A" page, for instance, immediately reveals an acrobat, airplane and alligator, but a closer look uncovers an angelfish, argyle socks, accordion, etc. Most of the objects are in black-and-white, which provides a stimulating contrast to each page's central representative object, rendered in color and shaped to form the letter itself. Thus a caterpillar is bent in a C-curve, while the bill of a cap and the arm of a fisherman form the twin prongs of the letter F. Sneed shoehorns in plenty of humor with puckish caricatures and silly situations (a lady who lunches holds a leashed lion). Except for a key at the back, the book is wordless, helping the book transcend age ranges. It offers equal enjoyment for those newly acquainted with the alphabet and for the well-versed (who will find plenty to challenge them, including "vaccinate," "monarch," "goslings," "ibis" and "uvula"). Youngest readers will have fun spotting the mouse at the bottom of each page, who pulls a wagon carrying each of the letters. Ages 4-up. (June)