If kids had coffee table books, this is the one they would choose to display and have their friends flip through when they came over and sipped juice and chatted about play dates and who was going to what preschool the next year. Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters is by Oliver Jeffers, the illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Day the Crayons Quit! and is as much fun for parents to read as it for the kiddos.
Now, this book is less warm and fuzzy than it is slightly dark and sharp, think more along the lines of Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends and Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen. If you (and your kids) are a fan of these, then you will love this book. Each letter of the alphabet is associated with a word and a beautiful full color illustration. Then the following pages feature a fun, alliterative short story about that object; an Astronaut who's afraid of heights, a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom...
I'm always looking for books that I can read to all of my kids, from little to big. Even though Finn is in 3rd grade and Levy is in 1st and they both love to read on their own, I still read to all four of the kids every night, at least one book. This one is a favorite for the two older kids to take turns reading out loud, and they each have their own favorite letter stories they want to read and giggle over.
Going on year 8 of being a parent and having read countless ABC books, I truly love this silly and sometimes a little weird departure from the typical A is for Apple, B is for Ball kind of stuff you usually get with an "alphabet book". For sure, Jack (nearly 3) has no idea what some of the little stories are about, but he loves this book nonetheless, and he has his favorite letters and pictures. Just exactly what an enigma might be is still discussed every time we read it, but the elephants and envelopes are favorites, as well as the puzzled parsnips and of course the lumberjack.
I know it's an interesting children's book when I call Sean in from the other room to show him one of the pictures, or laugh about one of the little stories, and that is certainly the case with this one. If you'd like a beautifully illustrated departure from the same old, same old, pick this one up, it just so happens to be a bestseller this week at Northshire Bookstore on Broadway in Saratoga. xoxo