Artistic. Beautiful. Clever. Delightful. Elegant. Fascinating. I could go on all the way to Z. Norman Messenger’s work leaves one enchanted. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating—I’m completely astonished by the array of outstanding alphabet books on offer, and this one is among our favourites, because of its beauty and because of its playful discountenance.
Each letter of the alphabet is depicted as a capital and lower case letter. Half on double page spreads, half on single. As you start reading, you’re greeted by two acrobats and a horse forming a capital A and lower case a. Turn the page and caterpillars munching on leaves form B and b. Turn over again and Hokusai’s waves have been carved to represent the letter C. This is where we had a giggle to ourselves—plump cats are Ds while dragons are Es. Can you see what’s happening here? An Artist’s Alphabet is gorgeous, the illustrations are stunning, it’s also surprising in its unpredictability, innovative and stirs the imagination. Relationships are open to interpretation. Kids will concentrate on the shapes letters make, each stem, arc, and stroke. Perhaps even remember their letters better by associating them with pictures. My kids sure did. Post story time, we spent the afternoon looking for letters in our backyard—Ws in leaves, Ys in tree branches, Cs and Ss in the garden hose, pebbles in the shape of Ds and Os. We gathered quite a collection.