Cover image for Word play ABC
Word play ABC
Cahoon, Heather.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Walker and Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
A illustrated alphabet book using puns and wordplay.

Format :


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

On Order



Yellow jacket? Goose bump? Weeping willows?It's no secret that words can conjure up some peculiar images. (If you need proof, try figuring out how to wear an ice cap.) But, then, that's the challenge of Word Play ABC. A quirky celebration of imagination, language and the alphabet all rolled into one, this clever tongue-in-cheek alphabet book makes language fun By challenging children to think about the Mature of words while charming them with cheery, good-humored illustrations, Word Play ABC delights youngsters of all ages with its visual and verbal twists and turns.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-7. This ABC of visual puns devotes one page to each letter of the alphabet. The illustration for "Crock-Pot" shows a crocodile not quite fitting into a cooking pot. The page for P uses a picture of saucepans hanging from a tree to illustrate the word "pantry." W leads to "weeping willow," evocatively illustrated by graceful tree limbs in a rainstorm, dripping tearlike drops into the water below. The black-line drawings are softened with brush strokes and washes in colorful hues. Once they catch on to the game, children will enjoy deciphering the word play and perhaps even creating some illustrated definitions of their own, especially in a classroom setting. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this imaginative debut, Cahoon blends predominantly whimsical puns and keen visual wit. Each spread presents two consecutive letters of the alphabet in a unified composition. To introduce the letter E, for instance, the author-illustrator starts with the word "eerie." She then pictures an ethereal green alien with lower-case E's for ears, a kind of "ear-E" presence. This E-E.T. flies in a teacup, adding another layer to the joke with the letter F, for "flying saucer." Some other memorable images include the letter H's "home sweet home," represented by a beehive dripping with honey, and Q's "quarter horse," a mechanical pony that costs 25 cents a ride. Cahoon's domestic settings and outdoor nature scenes display a deft handling of watercolors: expressive black-ink outlines, varying from crayon-thick to a hair's-width, wrap around warm hues of cornflower yellow, midnight blue and poppy red. Not every page offers an unqualified hit; the letter V serves as prompt for the term "viewpoint" and a bland horizon, and the familiar hugs-and-kisses "XOXO" appear for the always-problematic letter X. Further, the words accompanying this alphabet may prove mystifying to beginners and the abecedarian format a bit too reductive for advanced readers. Yet anyone who appreciates the verbal dexterity and strong imagery of books like Cathi Hepworth's ANT-ics! will do a double-take at this clever volume, which closes with a glossary and literal translations of its A-to-Z terms. Ages 3-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-3-The title of this bright, colorful book tells readers exactly what they're getting. For each letter of the alphabet, Cahoon has devised a pun or play on words and illustrated it accordingly. Thus, A (for airmail) shows an airplane writing "hello" in the sky. For C, the picture of a crocodile in a pot is accompanied by the word "Crock-Pot." At the end of the book, a glossary offers children the real meaning for the expressions used. The weakness of this book is the same as for any undertaking of this kind-unevenness. In some cases, the wordplay and illustrations are wonderful. The art and language combine to create a silliness that is both age appropriate and accessible. In other cases, the humor falls flat, is too sophisticated for the intended audience, or the pun is not represented successfully by the illustration. The presentation is visually appealing with many of the letters paired in two-page spreads that depict a single scene. There are many playful alphabet books available, including Chris Van Allsburg's The Z Was Zapped (Houghton, 1987), Richard Wilbur's The Disappearing Alphabet (Harcourt, 1998), and Jeanne Steig's Alpha Beta Chowder (HarperCollins, 1992), that successfully present the concept with humor. Add this one where the need is great.-Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.