The Hidden Alphabet

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Overview

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.

An alphabet book in which ...

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Overview

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.

An alphabet book in which windows open to reveal the letters hidden within each picture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It's simple and elegant, and makes perfect sense for preliterate persons."—Wall Street Journal

 

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

 

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.

 

 

School Library Journal

 

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.

 

 

Booklist

 

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.

 

 

Kirkus Reviews Starred Review:

 

An outstanding alphabet book...Each page comes as an ingenious surprise...Beautifully designed, fascinating to browse, and eminently successful.

A Kirkus Editor's Choice Best Book of 2003

 

 

Child Magazine:

 

BEST BOOK OF 2003 award by Child Magazine

 

 

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:

 

Recommended book: ...Each page is executed with polish and panache...This is begging for use in art class...

 

School Library Journal Starred Review:

 

Hidden Alphabet is a visual delight...Seeger's sophisticated paintings make this a fascinating artistic experience as well as/a learning opportunity.

 

 

Horn Book:

 

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

 

 

American Library Association/ALA Notable Book, 2004

A New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing, 2003

NBC Today Show Best Book for Gift Giving, 2003 

From The Critics
Starred review in November issue of The School Library Journal

PreS-Gr. 2-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 by-play 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.
West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA

Kirkus Reviews
Starred review in August 15, 2003 issue

An outstanding alphabet book that is graphically distinguished as well as useful for the purpose intended: object and letter identification. Most objects pictured, one per page, will be common to young children (although a few like "arrowhead" and "quotation mark" may not), and they will be easily identified. The use of clean lines and simple shapes throughout, with occasional subtle texturing, renders the book artistic yet accessible. The organizing principle is clear and consistent as well as unique. Each keyword is printed in clear, lowercase typeface, white on black, with a black flap framing the object. The flap lifts to reveal that the picture is indeed part of the alphabet letter itself, therein making creative use of negative space. Two balloons representing the letter "b" actually form the holes in the capital letter "B." Each page comes as an ingenious surprise. Colors are saturated and show up handsomely inside the black frames. Printed on sturdy stock, this should survive many circulations in small hands. Beautifully designed, fascinating to browse, and eminently successful. (Picture book. 3-6)

Publisher's Weekly
Starred review in September 8, 2003 issue

Seeger (I Had A Rooster), the niece of folksinger Pete Seeger, has devised an artful lift-the-flap ABC. From A-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 the 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. Ages 2-6. (Sept.)

Laurie Edwards
Starred review in November issue of The School Library Journal

PreS-Gr. 2-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 by-play 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.
West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
There's no shortage of graphically intriguing alphabet books (Stephen T. Johnson's Alphabet City, BCCB 11/95, and David Pelletier's The Graphic Alphabet, 12/96, being probably the best known of the lot), but here's one with a slightly different approach. Each page offers an illustration of an item beginning with the relevant letter of the alphabet (A is for "arrowhead," B is "balloons," C is "cloud"), framed by a glossy black flap whose die-cut hole allows the relevant image to peek out. When the flap is lifted, however, it reveals a depiction of the letter in question, cunningly expanded from the detail that delineates the item: the stony arrowhead forms the hole in the capital A, the yellow and red balloons the holes in the B, the fluffy white cloud a peninsula into the sky-blue C. The idea doesn't really vary much from letter to letter, but each page is executed with polish and panache: Seeger's adroit employment of paint effects confers gleaming luster, soft mottling, and liquid ripples on various backgrounds while contrasting them sharply with the crisp edges on the featured elements. This is begging for use in art class, and the gentle hide-and-seek aspect adds appeal as well as a certain flair that will make this entertaining to kids who have only recently mastered the reading of the alphabet itself. DS.
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596436374
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 11/23/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 2 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Work of art masquerading as a children's book

    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)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2007

    a true work of art

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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