Alphabet City

Alphabet City

4.5 2
by Stephen T. Johnson
     
 

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A 1996 Caldecott Honor book!

The urban landscape will never look the same again. As Stephen T. Johnson demonstrates in a series of strikingly realistic pastels and watercolors, a simple sawhorse can contain the letter "A"—while lampposts alongside a highway can form a row of elegant, soaring Ys. A 1996 Caldecott Honor book, this sophisticated,

Overview

A 1996 Caldecott Honor book!

The urban landscape will never look the same again. As Stephen T. Johnson demonstrates in a series of strikingly realistic pastels and watercolors, a simple sawhorse can contain the letter "A"—while lampposts alongside a highway can form a row of elegant, soaring Ys. A 1996 Caldecott Honor book, this sophisticated, wordless alphabet book is sure to appeal to young and old alike.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The letter B sculpted from the rigid angles of a fire escape, an R in a jagged street crack, an E in the side view of a street light-the heart of this stunning, wordless ABC book lies in the artist's photorealistic still lifes. Celebrating the lines, curves and shapes of the letters, Johnson (The Samurai's Daughter) elevates the alphabet into art. In the process, he transforms the mundane by challenging viewers to look at such commonplace urban structures as water towers (pipes attached to it form an F) and park benches (their wrought-iron arms make O's) with new eyes, turning the city itself into an urban sculpture. Only after careful scrutiny will viewers realize that these arresting images aren't photographs but compositions of pastels, watercolors, gouache and charcoal. A visual tour de force, Johnson's ingenious alphabet book transcends the genre by demanding close inspection of not just letters, but the world. All ages. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
The scenes of New York City look like photographs, but they are actually realistic paintings that reveal the alphabet in a most unusual way. For example the letter "G" shows up in the grill work of lamppost and an "H" appears within a scene of two buildings connected by an walkway. It is intriguing and requires a bit of sophistication on the part of the reader.
School Library Journal
Gr 1 Up-Beginning with the A formed by a construction site's sawhorse and ending with the Z found in the angle of a fire escape, Johnson draws viewers' eyes to tiny details within everyday objects to find letters. In this wordless tour of sights from Times Square to the Brooklyn Bridge, he invites young and old alike to take a new look at familiar surroundings, discovering the alphabet without ever looking in a book or reading from a sign. Conceived in the tradition of Ann Jonas's work, especially The Thirteenth Clue (Greenwillow, 1992), Johnson's pastel, watercolor, gouache, and charcoal paintings are much more realistic than his illustrations for The Samurai's Daughter (Dial, 1992); in fact, they are almost photographic in appearance. Some of the images are both clever and incredibly clear, e.g., the E found in the sideways view of a traffic light. Others, such as the C in the rose window of a Gothic church, are more obscure. Nevertheless, all of the paintings are beautifully executed and exhibit a true sense of artistic vision. While parents or teachers might assume from the title that this is a traditional alphabet book, they should be encouraged to look at it as an art book. It's sure to inspire older children to venture out on their own walks to discover the alphabet in the familiar objects of their own hometowns.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140559040
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
10/28/1999
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
90,237
Product dimensions:
8.25(w) x 10.40(h) x 0.10(d)
Lexile:
1170L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Stephen T. Johnson is a highly versatile American artist whose art spans a broad range of concepts, contexts and mediums including painting, collage, drawing, sculpture and installations and can be seen in museum and gallery exhibitions, public art commissions, and through his original award-winning children’s books. 

Much of Johnson’s work is characterized by an interest in the alphabet and language, which began with his book Alphabet City, a Caldecott Honor and New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year.  His most recent engagement with the alphabet is his ongoing series of “literal abstractions” which are the subject of his book A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet, also a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and featured in several solo museum and gallery exhibitions.

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Alphabet City (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An artist sees things that we often miss in our daily landscapes as we are too frequently in such a hurry to recognize the beauty that can be found all around us - even in the most urban of settings. This creative group of images will fascinate all ages!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The challenge of identifying the individual letters of the alphabet in city scapes had me so engrossed I didn't realize for a very long time that the illustrations were, in fact, paintings and not photographs. This is an excellent book. Not only does it lend itself perfectly to learning the letters of the alphabet but it also provides a wonderfully stimulating feast for the eyes.