cover image ALPHATHOUGHTS: Alphabet Poems


Lee Bennett Hopkins, , illus. by Marla Baggetta. . Boyds Mills, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-979-8

Like the familiar poems that begin with each letter of a word (M is for the many things you taught me, etc.), Hopkins's (Been to Yesterdays) prosaic picture book offers paeans alongside each letter of the alphabet. The title is apt—these entries read like a series of jotted notes. Usually the phrase representing each letter is descriptive or offers a definition (for R, the term "Reunion" is "A/ coming together/ to/ remember/ memories"); many strain for effect. Neither the text nor Baggetta's graphic, full-bleed art breaks new ground. Accompanying C for "Custodian" ("Keeper of clean"), for example, Baggetta shows a faceless custodian mopping a school floor. Occasionally, the visuals go beyond the obvious. A bowl of N for "Nachos" ("A/ crunch/ of/ culture/ within/ one/ nibble") nestles among hills that resemble tomatoes. Many entries and illustrations seem designed for the classroom: B for "Books" ("Pages/ and pages/ of/ bound/ forevers") features children perched like birds in a book tree; for T for "Teacher" ("One/ who/ touches/ your/ all-tomorrows"), a teacher holding a slate poses with smiling multiracial faces around her. (There's also L for "Library," P for "Pencil" and more). Unfortunately, few of these "alphathoughts" prove stimulating. Ages 6-8. (Apr.)