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The Hidden Alphabet

The Hidden Alphabet

4.5 2
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

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Open this unusual book and you'll be greeted by a striking image of an arrowhead, surrounded by a simple black frame. Lift the frame and the arrowhead will be magically transformed into the letter A. And so it goes, from Balloons, Cloud, and Door, through Leaf and Mice, to Yolk and Zipper. Bold distinctive images and a simple yet ingenious format make this a


Open this unusual book and you'll be greeted by a striking image of an arrowhead, surrounded by a simple black frame. Lift the frame and the arrowhead will be magically transformed into the letter A. And so it goes, from Balloons, Cloud, and Door, through Leaf and Mice, to Yolk and Zipper. Bold distinctive images and a simple yet ingenious format make this a concept book, and a gift book, to treasure.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“It's simple and elegant, and makes perfect sense for preliterate persons.” —Wall Street Journal

“Seeger, the niece of folksinger Pete Seeger, has devised an artful lift-the-flap ABC. From A to Z, labeled die-cut openings in glossy black paper purport to show an "arrowhead," "balloons," a "cloud" and a "door." When readers peek beneath the paper frames, however, they discover a letter of the alphabet. What look like two horizontal white "eggs" on a gingham napkin are also the indentations in a letter E. Two parallel "nails," tilting on a diagonal, turn out to be the slanted angles of the capital N. A plump white "quotation mark" against a red background doubles as the oval center of a Q. And the curvaceous hollow body of a "ukelele" forms the dip in the letter U. Seeger inverts positive and negative space in her paintings, whose warm colors glow from the windows in the light-absorbing black paper; she even incorporates die-cuts into the dust jacket. Her words and images indicate which letter lurks under each flap, and her variably sized rectangular windows give tantalizing hints to the "hidden" shapes. The design is unerringly elegant: each flap lifts from bottom to top to reveal a solid, symmetrical letter form, and the 26 folded pages, printed on tough heavyweight stock, make for a thick but not unwieldy volume. Seeger makes an interactive game of the alphabet and fashions a sophisticated presentation. ” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“From the black book jacket with cutout openings for each letter of the title to the vibrant, painterly strokes of yellow on the endpapers, Hidden Alphabet is a visual delight. A black mat frames an object on each page. When it is lifted, each of these objects becomes a significant part of the letter's negative space (e.g., two balloons form circles to make the openings in the letter "B"). This clever trick of changing viewers' perspective from foreground to background will keep readers turning the pages to see the other optical illusions this pictorial byplay produces. Because of the way they are formed, the letters are not always completely conventional in shape. This may challenge very young children to identify them, but readers of any age will enjoy seeing a mouse turn into an "M" made of cheese with a few tiny chunks nibbled out of it. Seeger's interesting word choices-arrowhead, inkblot, olive, partridge, quotation mark, yolk-and her sophisticated paintings make this a fascinating artistic experience as well as a learning opportunity.” —School Library Journal

“Seeger's Hidden Alphabet uses a timeworn approach to A through Z that matches each letter with a word that begins with that letter, then adds a lift-the-flap format and a striking graphic design to transform the book into something new. Each shiny, thick black page features a cut-away through which children can view vibrantly colored objects, such as balloons. By lifting the flap, children will be surprised to discover that the object actually forms part of a letter. Kids may need help recognizing some of the objects featured, but the design is bold and clean enough to make the letters easily discernible. It is a book that manages to be both child friendly and visually exciting. ” —Booklist

“An outstanding alphabet book...Each page comes as an ingenious surprise...Beautifully designed, fascinating to browse, and eminently successful. ” —Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

“Recommended book: ...Each page is executed with polish and panache...This is begging for use in art class... ” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Hidden Alphabet is a visual delight...Seeger's sophisticated paintings make this a fascinating artistic experience as well as/a learning opportunity. ” —School Library Journal Starred Review

“ ...A Concept Book with a capital C...This is great bookmaking, and a snazzy-though sophisticated-addition to the alphabet bookshelf. ” —Horn Book

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-On each page of this skillfully crafted alphabet book, an object appears within a box cut from a black flap. Lift the flap, and a vividly colored, subtly textured painting reveals both object and letter. Art students as well as preschoolers will find much to explore. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
2 - 6 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a New York Times best-selling author and illustrator and the recipient of a 2008 Caldecott Honor, Theodor Seuss Geisel Honors for both 2009 and 2008, a 2007 New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award, and the 2007 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book. Her books include First the Egg and Dog and Bear, among others.

Raised on Long Island, New York, Seeger began drawing at two years old and never stopped. For as long as she remembers, she wanted to write picture books. She received her B.F.A. degree at the School of Fine Art and Design at SUNY Purchase in Westchester, New York, and then moved to Manhattan, where she worked as an animator, artist, and editor in the network television business.

Seeger lives in Rockville Centre, Long Island, with her husband, Chris, their two sons, Drew and Dylan, and their dog, Copper. She loves painting, surfing, tennis, playing the piano, and spending time with her family. She takes long walks at the beach every day and paints in her studio every night.

Customer Reviews

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The Hidden Alphabet 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ShalaHowell More than 1 year ago
Laura Seeger's The Hidden Alphabet is a work of art posing as an alphabet book. Black lift-up flaps frame stunningly simple images of birds, mice, eggs, even quotation marks-setting these rather humble, everyday objects up as works of art in their own right. Lift the flaps and the objects reveal themselves to be a notch in a K, the hole in an R, or the curve of an S. The book's only text is the name of the objects in the black frame. The result is a blend of short, unimposing text and familiar images that encourages my daughter to try sounding out the words on her own. That said, if you ask my 4 year old daughter, she'll tell you she doesn't like this book because there is too much black on the cover. And in fact, she will never pick this book up off the shelf for herself (I have about 6 months of anecdotal data to prove this). At the same time, when we read this book this week, she was fully engaged, lifting the flaps, sounding out words, and critiquing the artist's rendition of the various letters. Even if this book left my daughter completely cold, I would still pull it out to read with her on occasion because the illustrations are that good. At one point, my daughter turned the page and said, "Wow." I say "wow" on nearly every page. This book is a visual feast. So why didn't I give it a 5? The cover. We have an early edition of the book that uses a solid black sheet with boxes stamped out of it through which the letters of the title appear. Although my adult self understands completely and fully endorses the genius of this book's cover, the nearly unrelenting black keeps my daughter from ever picking up this book on her own. And that's a problem. Based on this listing, it looks like they've changed the cover for the more recent editions. Perhaps my daughter isn't the only child who doesn't want to read a book draped in all that black. (Review originally posted at my blog: Caterpickles -- Scientific & Linguistic Engagement with a 4 Year Old Mind)
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful, captivating book. The black pages showing only a small peek at the picture below inspire curiosity and excitement for when you lift the page and see the beautiful artwork of that letter underneath. Very clever and very well done - a real delight to look at, definitely well above your standard children's book. My 2-year old nephew really likes it and is starting to learn his letters because he enjoys it, even though it's rated for older kids.