cover image E-mergency


Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer. Chronicle, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8118-7898-2

Picture books often get by on a single comic device, but Lichtenheld (Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site) and his collaborator, 15-year-old Fields-Meyer, pack their alphabet book with jokes—it’s like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom on steroids. Imagine what would happen if the letter E broke its leg and O had to be tapped for substitute duty (“Big Troo Falls On Toony Car!” reads a newspaper headline). The co-authors invent dozens of puns, hiding them in the corners of pages (P is the source of potty jokes, Z is forever tired) and assembling acronyms (“The EMTs rushed in with an IV, ready to perform CPR”). The letters often assemble words on the spot (after E falls, some chums spell “OUCH!”) and, in a grand finale of self-reference, they insist that the narrator play by the book’s rules and quit using the letter E (“That’s bottor!” says N, mollified). Though some of the jokes will be clear only to older brothers and sisters, readers who are in the thick of learning spelling rules will pore over the pages. Comprehensive, witty entertainment from A to Z. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)