cover image Not an Alphabet Book: The Case of the Missing Cake

Not an Alphabet Book: The Case of the Missing Cake

Eoin McLaughlin, illus. by Marc Boutavant. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1267-9

Bear had planned to walk readers through “a simple alphabet book.” But this admirable intention is put aside as he instead searches for the nefarious thief who has disappeared the “completely delicious, tongue-jinglingly chocolaty cake” that previously accompanied the letter C. It is evident from the brown smudges on his face and some very cagey behavior that McLaughlin’s (The Hug) narrator is both unreliable and unrepentant, but Bear brazenly plows ahead, and digital vignettes by Boutavant (the Ariol series), set against white backgrounds in the style of a midcentury primer, make the melodramatic interrogations of other alphabet representatives all the funnier (“You’ve got a history of stealing sweet treats, Mr. Fox. How do you plead?”). Some readers may be momentarily upset that Bear is able to mobilize another against innocent Pig, who is banished to the dreaded page 27—an ice floe on which xylophone music is played nonstop. Justice finally does prevail, however, just not until those reading aloud have had the opportunity to assume a variety of modes, from high anxiety (“I have a wife! I have a family!”) to not-so-righteous indignation. Ages 2–5. [em](Aug.) [/em]