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The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z!

Overview

The acclaimed entertainer and bestselling author Steve Martin and the wildly clever New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast team up in a weird, wonderful excursion through the alphabet.

The ABCs have never had it so good. Created by two of today’s wittiest, most imaginative minds, The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! is a sheer delight from A to Z. In twenty-six alliterative couplets, Steve Martin conjures up much more than mere apples and zebras. Instead we meet Horace the ...

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Overview

The acclaimed entertainer and bestselling author Steve Martin and the wildly clever New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast team up in a weird, wonderful excursion through the alphabet.

The ABCs have never had it so good. Created by two of today’s wittiest, most imaginative minds, The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! is a sheer delight from A to Z. In twenty-six alliterative couplets, Steve Martin conjures up much more than mere apples and zebras. Instead we meet Horace the hare, whose hairdo hides hunchbacks, and Ollie the owl, who owed Owen an oboe. Roz Chast contributes the perfect visual settings for Martin’s zany two-liners. Her instantly recognizable drawings are packed with humorous touches both broad and subtle.

Each rereading—and there will be many—delivers new delights and discoveries. There, hidden behind Bad Baby Bubbleducks, is a framed picture of a beatnik holding balloons; and the letter C finds clunky Clarissa all clingy and clueless adrift in a landscape cluttered with images ranging from a curiously comfortable clown to Chuck’s Chili stand. A smart, laugh-inducing introduction to the alphabet for young children, The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! will also enchant adults with its matchless mix of the sophisticated and the silly.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Good alphabet books leave an indelible imprint on little learners, and this is one of the best. Roving comedy genius Steve Martin and New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast have teamed up to create an A-to-Y lexicon unlike any other. They even throw in a bonus letter for no extra charge. Martin's alliterative couplets far outstrip the usual "B is for bees" fare that one commonly sees. Who among us acquired his or her O's with "Ollie the Owl, who owed Owen an oboe"? And as was to be expected, Chast's whimsical drawings add to the comic effect.
Publishers Weekly

Actor, playwright and novelist Martin (Shopgirl) branches into picture books for this nutty abecedary. No humdrum "A is for apple" list, this volume faces outrageous, alliterative couplets with full-page cartoons approximating the situations they describe. Known for skewering middle-class anxieties, Chast (Meet My Staff) ably sketches scenes of kitchen mayhem ("Friday when Frank fixed frijoles and French fries/ His fiancée Franny was covered in fruit flies") and pictures the main office for Xerxes Xylophones, where a bizarre X-perience unfolds ("Ambidextrous Alex was actually axed/ For waxing, then faxing, his boss's new slacks"). She also supplements the nonsense rhymes with added images of items that start with the highlighted letter (when "Quincy the kumquat querie[s] the queen," readers see a bookshelf of tomes on quintuplets, quantum mechanics and quartz). Martin and Chast show their mettle as each other's wacky sidekicks, performing for an all-ages crowd. Adults see two well-known artists at work, creating mind-bending tableaux, while children get a taste of original tongue-twisters. This peculiar and funny book resembles a round of the Surrealists' game of exquisite cadaver or Mad Libs, worked out in a dizzying combination of words and pictures. All ages. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
Famous comedian Steve Martin constructs nonsense rhymes in couplets as he presents the alphabet. Some of the words and situations will have to be explained to children. For the letter “N,” the word “knockwurst” is used. For the letter “E,” the text reads: “Excellent Edward, exceedingly picky, Ate eggs with an eel whose earwax was icky.” The illustration shows other objects beginning with “E,” such as elephants on a shelf, an Eskimo doll, a picture of a pyramid with the word “Egypt” on it, and doors with the words “enter” and “exit.” In a word balloon over his head, a cartoon character sitting at a table says: “These eggs are exceptionally exquisite.” Adult readers may enjoy the fun more than children do. The end papers show other symbols and diacritical marks associated with letters. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
Kirkus Reviews
This high-profile crossover will slide effortlessly onto the bestseller lists, but it's not likely to win its creators many new adult fans-or any child ones. Showing a fine disregard for foolish consistencies like end words that actually rhyme consistently, Martin fashions surreal situations in 26 couplets, each paired to a literal illustration from Chast strewn with both her customary cast of homely, anxious figures and other words or items that feature the selected letter. Though some spreads have a certain verbal and visual bounce-in the art for "Pedro the puppy piled poop on his paws / And Papa dog published his photo because," for instance, the peeved paternal parent brandishes a copy of "Popular Pooch," as mama dog praises a parsnip pizza-more often the captions read like random words strung together. Furthermore, some of the image choices, such as the 107 (or so) hunchbacks in Henrietta's hairdo, or the drunk wandering past David the dog-faced boy, skate to the edge of poor taste. A gallery of accented letters on the endpapers provides some added value, but not enough. Like Shirley and Milton Glaser's The Alphazeds (2003), any resemblance to a title for tots is coincidental. (Picture book. Adult)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385523776
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/23/2007
  • Edition description: Library Edition
  • Pages: 52
  • Age range: 2 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Roz Chast

STEVE MARTIN is a celebrated writer, actor, and performer. His film credits include The Jerk, Father of the Bride, and The Spanish Prisoner, as well as Roxanne, L.A. Story, and Bowfinger, for which he also wrote the screenplays. He is the author of the play Picasso at the Lapin Agile and of the bestselling collection of comic pieces Pure Drivel, as well as the bestselling novellas The Pleasure of My Company and Shopgirl, which was made into a popular movie. His work appears frequently in The New Yorker and the New York Times. He lives in Los Angeles.

ROZ CHAST's cartoons have been appearing in The New Yorker since 1978. Her work also has appeared in many publications, including Scientific American, Travel & Leisure, the Harvard Business Review as well as many others. She has also published several cartoon collections, illustrated children's books, and designed CD covers, book jackets, and theater posters. Her most recent book is Theories of Everything (Bloomsbury, 2006). She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and currently resides in Connecticut.

Biography

Roz Chast was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her cartoons began appearing in the New Yorker in 1978 - since then more than a thousand of her cartoons have appeared in the magazine, as well as in Scientific American, the Harvard Business Review, Redbook, Mother Jones, and many others. Michiko Kakutani has described her work as taking place in “a parallel universe to ours, utterly recognizable in all its banalities and weirdnesses, but slightly askew." She has written or illustrated more than a dozen books, and much of her work is collected in Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons of Roz Chast, 1978-2006.
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 30, 2011

    Absolutely-Zany

    My two year old grandson demands this book every night. He is adept at pointing to all the absurd details that abound on every page. At first glance it's definitely not on a toddler's level, but somehow it transcends and mesmerizes. Even those of us who have memorized the book due to repetition still laugh and delight at Martin's quick wit and his way with words and the even wilder illustrations by Roz Chast. I hope there are more collaborations on the way.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I loved this book as much as my grandchildren did.

    What a great new way to learn the alphabet. Very fun and up to date for kids.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2007

    One Wild and Crazy Guy

    Steve Martin lends his wit and wisdom to a new children's book. Not your mother's alphabet book, but one that's original,fresh, and creatively funny. Steve displays his writing skills in a new genre. Great book for the young and young at heart. Way to go, Steve!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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