31 Days, 31 Lists: 2018 Alphabet Books
Of all the concept books, the alphabet book is the one with the most potential. With its 26 letters it’s perfectly sized for 32-page picture books. They are flexible beyond measure, and can be used to disseminate factual information or tell a story. Every year we see alphabet books coming out in a variety of different ways. These are the ones that I think really took the ball and ran with the premise. See if you agree.
2018 Alphabet Books
A is for Australian Animals by Frané Lessac
More of a nonfiction title, I suppose, and perhaps more useful as a guide to Australia than for someone learning the alphabet for the first time. But that’s the thing about alphabet books, isn’t it? They don’t have a single solitary purpose. They can be used as a way of organizing a book of facts in a way other titles can’t. Keen.
ABC: Early Learning at the Museum by The Trustees of the British Museum
So, funny story. I had intended to include this book in my board book round-up when I started getting second thoughts. Sure, it’s a strong board book that uses its familiar premise (museum artifacts in alphabetical order) to great advantage. But doesn’t that make it far more of an alphabet book than anything else? I don’t know about you but I tire easily when I see yet another bit of museum gift shop bait on my shelves. This book goes on beyond that. It’s a looker.
Arf! Buzz! Cluck! A Rather Noisy Alphabet by Eric Seltzer, ill. David Creighton-Pester
Looks familiar? Little wonder. It already showed up on our Board Books & Pop-Ups list so you know I like it. I debated whether or not to include board books on this list, but in the end I figured that there’s nothing a good board book can’t do. And to use animal sounds in an onomatopoeic abecedarian way? Bonus.
Baby’s First Eames: The ABCs of modern architecture and design by Julie Merberg, ill. Aki
Yeah. Okay, okay. You don’t trust me anymore. I mean, The British Museum was one thing but EAMES, for crying out loud?!? Is this a coffee table board book? Is it?
Um . . . okay, you got me. It’s totally a coffee table board book. And, yes, I did take a course on modern design in college. So this is probably best given to an adult. Possibly as a gag gift. But doggone it, it’s just so aesthetically pleasing to the EYE!! I couldn’t help myself.
Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets: An Unusual Alphabet by Sara O’Leary, ill. Jacob Grant
I found this book just in time at the end of the year. Sara O’Leary you may already know from her sublime This Is Sadie, When You Were Small, and many others. She’s one of those writers that tends to get paired with fabulous illustrators. Case in point, Jacob Grant. If I had to describe this book in two words they’d have to be “gently wry”. It’s a good thing. Kind of an alphabet board book with a teeny tiny bite.
P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter, ill. Maria Beddia
See this is one of those cases where I feel like I was totally into this book before it became the phenomenon that it did. Suddenly I’m seeing that it’s a bestseller, which it most certainly deserves. I’m just grumpy because I thought I might be able to tell you about it first. No such luck. Now my 7-year-old is a pretty competent reader so this book proved mighty instructive to her. If you haven’t seen it, it highlights how inane the English language truly is. It also has taught me, after all these years, how to pronounce quinoa.
All the silent letters, where do they all come from? All the silent letters, where do they all belong?
Interested in the other lists? Here’s the schedule of everything being covered this month. Enjoy!
December 1 – Board Books & Pop-Ups
December 2 – Board Book Reprints & Adaptations
December 3 – Wordless Picture Books
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Alphabet Books
December 7 – Funny Picture Books
December 8 – CaldeNotts
December 9 – Picture Book Reprints
December 10 – Math Books for Kids
December 11 – Bilingual Books
December 12 – Translated Picture Books
December 13 – Books with a Message
December 14 – Fabulous Photography
December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales / Religious Tales
December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year
December 17 – Poetry Books
December 18 – Easy Books
December 19 – Early Chapter Books
December 20 – Comics for Kids
December 21 – Older Funny Books
December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books
December 29 – Fiction Reprints
December 30 – Middle Grade Novels
December 31 – Picture Books
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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