Cover image for Once upon an alphabet
Title:
Once upon an alphabet
Author:
Jeffers, Oliver, author, illustrator.
Edition:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2014.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 32 cm
Summary:
"From an Astronaut who's afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet"--
General Note:
"Short stories for all the letters"--Jacket.

Also published: Great Britain : HarperCollins UK, 2014.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780399167911
Format :
Book

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On Order

Summary

Summary

THE alphabet book to top all others, from the illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestselling  The Day the Crayons Quit !
 
If words make up the stories and letters make up the words, then stories are made up of letters. In this menagerie we have stories made of words, made FOR all the letters.

The most inventive and irresistible book of the year spans a mere 26 letters (don't they all!) and 112 pages. From an A stronaut who's afraid of heights, to a B ridge that ends up burned between friends, to a C up stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet is a creative tour de force from A through Z. Slyly funny in a way kids can't resist, and gorgeously illustrated in a way readers of all ages will pour over, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet in a way that will forever raise the bar.
 
In Once Upon an Alphabet , #1 New York Times bestseller Oliver Jeffers has created a stunning collection of words and artwork that is a story book, alphabet book, and gorgeously designed art book all in one.

Praise for ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET:

A Publishers Weekly  Best Book of the Year!

* "The silly, spare, slightly surreal text occasionally rhymes and endlessly surprises. An utterly delightful alphabet book."– Kirkus Review , starred review

* "With wry humor, equally droll ink illustrations, and a solid dose of alliteration, Jeffers creates delightful mini-narratives for each letter of the alphabet."– Publishers Weekly , starred review 
* "An altogether stimulating, surprising, and satisfying reading experience."– School Library Journal , starred review

"Jeffers knows how to catch the attention of his young audience while challenging their imagination, intellect and vocabulary. This whimsical exploration of letters and language begs to be read over and over again."– BookPage
"Handsome, humorous and clad in bright tomato-red, [this] is the sort of book you may want to rush into the arms of imaginative, good-natured children between 4 and 10 years old. [T]his is no traditional abecedarian exercise.The stories are wonderfully varied, sometimes philosophical and often end surprisingly; the drawings are just as quirky and unpredictable."– The Wall Street Journal

"[W]itty from A to Z . . . no one would blame you for having a copy even if there are no kids in the house. Think of it as Edward Gorey for the preschool set — and their hip parents."– The Washington Post  


Author Notes

Oliver Jeffers was born in Port Hedland, Western Australia in 1977. He grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He received a First Class Honors Degree in illustration and visual communication and certificate of foundation studies from the University of Ulster, School of Art and Design in 2001. His work has been exhibited in multiple cities, including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Brooklyn Museum, and Gestalten Space in Berlin.

He writes and illustrates picture books. His debut book, How to Catch a Star, was published in 2004 and won a Merit Award at the CBI/Bisto Book of Year Awards. His second book, Lost and Found, won the Gold Award at Nestle Children's Book Prize and was developed into an animated short film, which has received over sixty awards including a BAFTA for Best Animated Short Film. His other books include The Incredible Book Eating Boy, The Great Paper Caper, Up and Down, Stuck, This Moose Belongs to Me, Once upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All Letters, The Hueys series and A Child of Books. He has won numerous awards including the Smarties Award, Irish Book of the Year, The Blue Peter Book of the Year, and the 2017 Academy of British Cover Design Award in the Children's category.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Spread over 112 pages, 26 short stories (in alphabetical order) all imagine a different scenario inspired by their titular letters. By turns silly (J is a door made of jelly), quixotic (O introduces an owl and an octopus who search for problems), and macabre (Helen plummets to the sea from her half house in H), the stories perplex and delight in equal measure. The trim size is large, and the text spare, leaving lots of space for Jeffers' curious, imaginative artwork. Characters portrayed in a familiar style are present, accompanied this time by a menagerie of animals, objects, and anthropomorphized parsnips. But his customary brilliant palette is subdued. Flashes of color decorate predominant washes of watercolor gray, establishing a wary, even sinister undertone that plays well as a foil for the aggressively ludicrous subject matter. Threads between the stories and a circular arc that connects A to Z invite children to do their own investigations of all of the stories the alphabet contains.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

With wry humor, equally droll ink illustrations, and a solid dose of alliteration, Jeffers (the Hueys series) creates delightful mini-narratives for each letter of the alphabet. In the B story, "Burning a Bridge," the antagonistic relationship between neighbors Bernard and Bob reaches a breaking point: "But Bob learned an important lesson that day" after he burns down the bridge separating their homes-and traps himself on Bernard's side. In addition to the rampant alliteration in the stories and poems ("Mary is made of matter./ So is her mother./ And her mother's moose"), Jeffers's illustrations are full of unnamed people and objects that correspond to each letter, providing opportunities for interactive reading. Grim touches appear here and there-because half of Helen's house fell into the sea, getting up on the wrong side of the bed proves disastrous-but the overall mood is one of playful mischief. One thing is certain: if Jeffers's determined problem-solving duo, Owl and Octopus-who pop up throughout, rescuing drowning cucumbers and recovering stolen x-ray glasses-don't get to headline future books of their own, it'll be downright criminal. Ages 3-5. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-Jeffers's empathic nature, evident from his sympathetic renderings of Drew Daywalt's beleaguered crayons in The Day the Crayons Quit (Philomel, 2013), here extends to the hardworking letters. This eccentric and entertaining anthology is introduced by an eloquent syllogism about the relationship of letters, words, and stories. While each four-page tale showcases a (seemingly) hand-drawn capital and lowercase letter, and many of the words-and unnamed objects-begin with the corresponding letter, this is not your mother's abecedarium. It is a framework for Jeffers's intriguing worldview, combining ludicrous juxtapositions and situations and a great capacity for gentleness. Some passages are scientific: "Mary is made of matter..she got sucked through a microscope and became the size of a molecule." The facing page shows Mary floating under the lens. The blackboard-style background is filled with "molecular" diagrams (mattresses, a moose, mums). Other sections are a mite macabre: "Jack Stack the Lumberjack has been struck by lightning one hundred and eleven times.." The lightning illuminates a skeleton, but after the page turn, the man appears in his jammies, normal, except that he can provide his own electricity. There is humor in the alliteration and mixed-media scenes: a puzzled parsnip, Victor the vanquished "plotting his vengeance," and an enigma featuring elephants and envelopes. The author respects his readers' intelligence, inserting expansive vocabulary, cameos from characters in previous books, people and plot threads that cross stories, and quiet details to discover in subsequent readings. An altogether stimulating, surprising, and satisfying reading experience.-Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.