Definitely not a beginner’s ABC book, but the visual and print punnery will have elementary kids (and adults) guessing and...


Help! The letter E has fallen (down the stairs) and can’t get up!

Get ready to chortle over this zany alphabet book, which poses as a mystery with the letters as the cast of characters, aided by some exclamation points. When E takes a tumble in the alphabet’s crowded communal quarters, all the others are concerned. A takes action, as always, calling the ambulance and assembling the alphabet to determine who will take E’s place. “O, you're the obvious option because you’re so well-rounded.” An announcement is made on television not to “uso! E! until! sho! rocovors!” D and C go to Washington to alert the "govornmont," while the other letters talk it up on talk shows. Then A decides to take a road trip to spread the word: “Pack your bags, lottors. It’s timo for a journoy!” When E just doesn’t get better, the search is on for the culprit who’s broken the letter law. The comic illustrations and the comments from the letters totally exaggerate the cleverness and fun while amusingly emphasizing the importance of the letter E in our language. Lichtenheld’s co-author developed the basic concept in a video, Alphabet House, and it is a rich one.

Definitely not a beginner’s ABC book, but the visual and print punnery will have elementary kids (and adults) guessing and laughing. (Alphabet picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7898-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s great value per page.


From the Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire series , Vol. 1

This book is the best cartoon that Hanna-Barbera never made.

Benji has more money than he can count. He may be even wealthier than Richie Rich or Scrooge McDuck, so he can spend all his time searching for lost dinosaurs and flying into space with an eccentric scientist. He earned his fortune by designing an app that generates excuses. (“I’m a kid” works in almost any situation.) As soon as Benji becomes a zillionaire, he buys himself a space station. “[I]t’s a great place to keep my zoo,” he tells an interviewer. If Benji had had a TV show back in the 1970s, fans would be fighting over his toys right now on eBay. Not a single moment of the story is plausible. Benji’s adventures are funnier than anything that happened to Jonny Quest or Josie and the Pussycats. The book wasn’t written in the 1970s, so the pace is much faster than Jonny Quest. On one page, the characters are building a chicken coop near an airplane hangar. On another, they’re saving the world from an asteroid. Benji looks exactly the way a cartoon character should, in any time period: one part Richie Rich, one part Scott Pilgrim. Vimislik’s illustrations are like everything in the book: not at all realistic but very, very funny.

It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s great value per page. (Humorous adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4342-6419-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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This luck-of-the-Irish alphabet book cites Irish legends and symbols with intertwined one-stanza poems. Each one-page entry features tidbits of Irish culture and lore. “B is for the Blarney Stone / And for great Brian Boru. / Beware the piercing banshee’s cry is / Or else she’ll come for you”; “Q is for the Irish pirate queen; / Grace O’Malley was her name. / She captured many English ships, / And their treasures she did claim.” (Inexplicably, pirate queen Grace O'Malley is pictured on dry land next to a castle and holding a broadsword; there's not a hint of a seafarer about the picture.) Some letters are stretches, as with most alphabet books: T is for the three colors on the Irish flag; U is for uilleann pipes; Gaelic has no letter X, except in names of Irish towns like Foxrock. And one has to wonder how many children in the book's audience will care about "J is for James Joyce." The format is typical, with color illustrations staging each ornately embellished capital letter and a few double-page spreads. One page of back matter provides a two-word glossary, a list of the 32 Irish counties and the lyrics to the song "Molly Malone." The device works tolerably but more contextualization and greater sensitivity to the audience level would have made the book more useful. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58980-745-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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