A Call for a New Alphabet

A Call for a New Alphabet

by Jeffrey Czekaj
     
 

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Tired of being under-used and third to last, the letter X calls for a change in alphabetical order. But after a crazy dream in which he learns some exceptional English grammar rules, X decides he likes his alphabetical placement. A hybrid of picture book and graphic novel styles, A Call for a New Alphabet humorously introduces readers to the concepts of plural

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Overview

Tired of being under-used and third to last, the letter X calls for a change in alphabetical order. But after a crazy dream in which he learns some exceptional English grammar rules, X decides he likes his alphabetical placement. A hybrid of picture book and graphic novel styles, A Call for a New Alphabet humorously introduces readers to the concepts of plural words, sight words, silent letters, and other idiosyncrasies of the English language.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Students struggling with the quirks of the English language might appreciate this alphabetical revolution, proposed by a dissatisfied letter X. "I always end up at the back of the book with a picture of an X ray and a xylophone. Why don't more words start with me?" he gripes. To persuade his 25 peers to rearrange their roles and order, he points out various grammatical conventions that make their lives predictable ("Q, aren't you bored to tears at being stuck next to U?"). The letters agree to vote on reassignment, but in an extended dream sequence X discovers unforeseen complications. Imagining himself as an S, he realizes that pluralization isn't so simple ("sheep" needs no S, "fox" needs an E and an S), and he is further baffled by silent letters and letters with multiple sounds. Czekaj (Hip & Hop, Don't Stop!), who has a degree in linguistics, offers textual and visual alliteration aplenty (H wears a hard hat and high heels). Despite the book's clunky title, the comic book–style cartoons (and humor) should please budding wordsmiths. Ages 6–9. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Michael Jung PhD
In Alphabet City, all the letters are happy and content—except for X who decides he has had it with being the third-from-the-last letter in the alphabet. Longing to be used more often (or at least start words more exciting than "xylophone") X asks that the letters vote for a new alphabet and then dreams about what it would be like to be a more important letter. Will he be able to end plural words like S? Pop up everywhere like E? But as X learns the weird rules that govern letters (who knew K hates being silent before N or that V never gets to end a word?) he starts to wonder if having a new role in the alphabet is such a good idea after all. Written and illustrated by linguistic scholar Jef Czekaj, A Call for a New Alphabet offers a hilarious story of personified letters demonstrating the strange inconsistencies and weird rules of American spelling. A fun spelling primer for kids (as well as an entertaining refresher for adults!), A Call for a New Alphabet is Sesame Street-style edutainment at its best. Reviewer: Michael Jung, PhD
Kirkus Reviews

Weary of being stuck near the end of the ABCs and saddled with the same old "xylophone" and "x-ray" all the time, the letter X campaigns for a new alphabetical order and a different job in this wry variation on Althea Kontis' Alpha-Oops!,illustrated by Bob Kolar (2003), and Steve Metzger'sThe Mixed-Up Alphabet,illustrated by Jannie Ho (2007). Sowing discontent among the other letters ("Q, aren't you bored to tears being stuck next to U? You two have to share nearlyeveryword that you're in") and incidentally covering several English spelling rules, X engineers a vote. He changes his mind, however, after a night's exhausting dreams about silent letters, pronunciations that vary, the different ways plurals are formed and the fact that vowels have to be ineveryword. U comes clad in underwear and brandishing an umbrella, T sports a toupee and the other letters bear similar luggage in Czekaj's comical, freely drawn cartoon renditions. A clever use of a familiar but not stale premise to clue new readers in to some of our written language's little foibles.(Picture book. 6-8)

School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Czekaj weaves spelling lessons throughout this cheeky comic-book-format tale about a disgruntled letter. X is dissatisfied with his place in the alphabet, always at the end and stuck fronting only the words "X-ray" and "xylophone." He riles up the other letters and a vote to change the alphabet, along with its rules, is arranged for the following day. During the night, X dreams of what it would be like to be the other letters and to be responsible for their sometimes-confusing jobs within the English language. Of course, he realizes that he is satisfied with the way things are and breaks a tie vote to maintain the status quo. While the premise isn't immediately inspiring, this tale is surprisingly readable. Czekaj does an admirable job of conveying facts about spelling and grammar during X's dream without drawing too much attention to the educational component. Linguistic jokes abound (W complains, "I'm silent before an R! It's nerve-wracking!"). Visually, the story flows easily through each panel, even where panels appear within panels. The bright but basic line drawings aren't distinguished, but Czekaj continues the wisecracking tone of the text in his art (for example, sleep-inducing Z goes on a rant about how interesting he really is in a speech bubble that runs off the page). This tale won't draw a broad audience, but fans of the format will find a light and satisfying read nonetheless.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580892285
Publisher:
Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
02/01/2011
Pages:
44
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
GN520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Jef Czekaj is a cartoonist, musician, and poster artist. He is the illustrator of THE QUEST TO DIGEST and UNITE OR DIE, as well as the author and illustrator of HIP & HOP, DON'T STOP! and CAT SECRETS. Jef lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts.

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