cover image Once upon an ABC

Once upon an ABC

Sophie Masson, illus. by Chrisopher Nielsen. Little Hare (IPG/Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-76012-843-2

Oblique references to folk and fairy tale characters carry readers through the alphabet in this sprightly rhyming picture book. Beginning with Anansi the spider, “both clever and neat,” Masson name-checks specific characters (“C is for Cat, wearing elegant boots”) and describes more general figures (“D is for dragon, safeguarding his loot”). Textured with scratches and speckles and given a muted primary color scheme, Nielsen’s mixed-media images have a sturdy, posterlike presence. Most of the stories alluded to come from European traditions, though Masson also includes Japan’s Inch Boy (aka Issun-boshi), China’s “Herd Boy” (from “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”), and Brer Rabbit, popularized in the American South. It’s a clever, well-constructed collection of some beloved literary figures and types, though readers will need to look to outside sources for more detailed information about them. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)