THE ALPHABET FROM A TO Y WITH BONUS LETTER Z!

This high-profile crossover will slide effortlessly onto the bestseller lists, but it’s not likely to win its creators many new adult fans—or any child ones. Showing a fine disregard for foolish consistencies like end words that actually rhyme consistently, Martin fashions surreal situations in 26 couplets, each paired to a literal illustration from Chast strewn with both her customary cast of homely, anxious figures and other words or items that feature the selected letter. Though some spreads have a certain verbal and visual bounce—in the art for “Pedro the puppy piled poop on his paws / And Papa dog published his photo because,” for instance, the peeved paternal parent brandishes a copy of “Popular Pooch,” as mama dog praises a parsnip pizza—more often the captions read like random words strung together. Furthermore, some of the image choices, such as the 107 (or so) hunchbacks in Henrietta’s hairdo, or the drunk wandering past David the dog-faced boy, skate to the edge of poor taste. A gallery of accented letters on the endpapers provides some added value, but not enough. Like Shirley and Milton Glaser’s The Alphazeds (2003), any resemblance to a title for tots is coincidental. (Picture book. Adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-51662-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Flying Dolphin/Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall.

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THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES

This book may not have pictures, but it’s sure to inspire lots of conversations—and laughs.

Television writer, actor and comedian Novak delivers a rare find, indeed: a very good celebrity picture book. It doesn’t even seem fair to call it such, since it has nothing to do with his Emmy Award–winning writing for The Office or the fame his broader career has afforded him. The jacket flap even eschews a glossy photo, instead saying “B.J. has brown hair and blue eyes,” in order to keep with the book’s central conceit. What this book does have is text, and it’s presented through artful typography that visually conveys its changing tone to guide oral readings. Furthermore, the text implies (or rather, demands) a shared reading transaction, in which an adult is compelled to read the text aloud, no matter how “COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS” it is. Employing direct address, it pleads with the implied child listener to allow him or her to stop reading. Nonsense words, silly words to be sung and even a smattering of potty talk for good measure all coalesce in riotous read-aloud fare. Although the closing pages beg the implied child reader to “please please please please / please / choose a book with pictures” for subsequent reading, it’s likely that this request will be ignored.

A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall. (. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4171-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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