STARRED REVIEW
September 2017

A charming romp through the alphabet

By Patrick McDonnell
Review by

In the world of children’s literature, alphabet books abound—is there really room for another? Patrick McDonnell’s latest picture book answers with an emphatic YES! Because his anthropomorphic animals are so expressive and playful, McDonnell, a Caldecott Honor-winning artist, makes this abecedarian book fast paced and high energy—even without using text.

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In the world of children’s literature, alphabet books abound—is there really room for another? Patrick McDonnell’s latest picture book answers with an emphatic YES! Because his anthropomorphic animals are so expressive and playful, McDonnell, a Caldecott Honor-winning artist, makes this abecedarian book fast paced and high energy—even without using text.

Out for an innocent walk, the little red cat encounters first—surprise!—a chomping Alligator, prompting our hero to run for his life. Along the way, hilarity ensues when he meets Bear, Chicken and—what else?—a fire-breathing Dragon, prompting the now-frightened group to all don Glasses, run fast and dream about returning Home.

Wordless double-page spreads enhance the action of the chase, which leads to some perilous page-turning moments of suspense. As with many McDonnell treasures, there is subtle humor (R stands for “restroom”) and surprises sure to delight adults as well as kids who will be guessing along the way—what will the next letter represent? And more importantly, will the little red cat make it home safely? The last three pages hold the answer to that question.

While the letters and what they represent are pretty obvious for most readers, the last page does include a legend.

A wordless ABCs book? Sure, it’s been done, but probably never in such fast, fun fashion.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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