cover image Little Bird's ABC

Little Bird's ABC

Piet Grobler, . . Front Street/Lemniscaat, $8.95 (52pp) ISBN 978-1-932425-52-9

Elegantly impish watercolors and a soupçon of naughty humor make this one of the freshest primers in quite some time. An aviary of precisely inked and improbably feathered friends (think A.O. Blechman filtered through the sensibilities of fashion illustration) scampers through the alphabet against a crisp white background. The hand-size hardcover format lends the proceedings the cozy, silly intimacy of a tickle. Grobler (Carnival of the Animals ) varies his approach to the letters: some spreads capitalize on the shape, some opt for the sound and some do a kind of double duty. F is the first letter of the "Ffftt...." emitted from a contented bird's derrière after eating beans; T is for the "Tok-tok-tok" sound made by a woodpecker-type bird hacking at the letter's trunk in pursuit of a fat ladybug. A few letter treatments are predictable or opaque (Z connotes the snores of a sleeping bird, X seems to stand for a feathered daredevil's demise), but most bubble with a puckishness that's certain to win the hearts of even veteran abecedarians. All ages. (Sept.)