Cover image for The absolutely awful alphabet
The absolutely awful alphabet
Gerstein, Mordicai.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
An alliterative alphabet book presents mean and monstrous letters, from A (an awfully arrogant amphibian) to Z (a zig-zagging zoological zany).
Reading Level:
IG 690 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-A-B-C 1-2-3 Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction A-B-C- 1-2-3 Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction A-B-C- 1-2-3 Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction A-B-C- 1-2-3 Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction A-B-C- 1-2-3 Books

On Order



Thealphabet never looked like this before--these letters have drippy noses, scratchy hair, and green teeth. They chase each other and pinch each other, and stick out their tongues. Zany art gives each letter a spectacular new personality, and the humorous, alliterative text is sure to stretch young readers' vocabularies. Readers young and old will never forget these twenty-six letters . . . and will never look at the alphabet the same way again.

Author Notes

Mordicai Gerstein was born in Los Angeles, California in 1935. He attended the Chouinard Art Institute in California. He designed and directed animated films for twenty-five years. In 1970, he met author Elizabeth Levy, who asked him to illustrate her children's book Something Queer Is Going On. He has illustrated all of the books in her Something Queer series. He decided to try his hand at writing. His first picture book, Arnold of the Ducks, was published in 1980 and adapted into an animated film. He has also retold many ancient religious stories, such as that of Jonah in his book, Jonah and the Two Great Fish. He has won many awards including 2 CINE Golden Eagle Awards from the International Film and Television Festival of New York.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1^-3. Each letter of the alphabet is a monster, one monster per page. The joy of invective and insult is in the alliterative words ("a cruel cantankerous Carnivore craving to consume"). The relish of hideous creatures is in the neon-colored oil illustrations with meticulous pen-and-ink details of nail, claw, whisker, and slobbering tongue. Twenty-six examples is a bit too many: whatever the individual variations and the connections between the letters, after a while even the grotesque gets to be a bit repetitive. However, kids who enjoy the seething sounds of the words and the ghastly, gorgeous pictures of the dreadfully dangerous, drooling demons will want to join in with their own ferocious alphabet play. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

With each letter more hideous and mean than the last, this alphabet will supply kids with an abundance of insults. Gerstein (Stop Those Pants!) fashions each letter as an imaginary creature, from the scaly "awfully arrogant Amphibian" A to the striped, grinning "zigzagging zoological Zany" Z. He also links the letters; the "hideously Horrible" H hates "impossible Ignoramus" I, who is irritated by J, and so on. Gerstein panders to the baser impulses with gleeful good cheer: his vegetable vampire, an ear of corn with pointy teeth, is especially silly. The bright oil portraits of the vile characters may well fire young imaginations. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4-An alliterative abecedarian featuring some fairly ferocious fiends. Each letter, illustrated in oil with pen and ink, occupies a full page and poses some sort of threat to the following letter. While some of the characters are merely goofy, like L, "a lanky, lazy Loony in love...", others are more frightening, such as C, "a cruel, cantankerous Carnivore craving to consume...." Gerstein's language is marvelous and can be best appreciated when read aloud. Only a few letters fall a bit flat; Y is a "yucky young Yokel." The advanced vocabulary and the nature of the illustrations make this title more suited to older children, who will be better able to appreciate Gerstein's inspired silliness and exuberant monsters, than as a book to help younger children learn the alphabet.-Robin L. Gibson, Muskingum County Library System, Zanesville, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.