The Alphabet from Z to A: With Much Confusion on the Way

Overview

In The Alphabet from Z to A (With Much Confusion on the Way), Judith Viorst once again applies her clear-sighted wit to a subject of universal appeal, turning the traditional alphabet book on its head by going through the alphabet backwards. Viorst's lively verse irreverently demonstrates that the spellings and sounds of our language are often so maddeningly inconsistent — "blue" and "blew," "chute" and "shoe" — that, as her exasperated narrator complains, "It could drive you berserk." Aimed at children who ...

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Overview

In The Alphabet from Z to A (With Much Confusion on the Way), Judith Viorst once again applies her clear-sighted wit to a subject of universal appeal, turning the traditional alphabet book on its head by going through the alphabet backwards. Viorst's lively verse irreverently demonstrates that the spellings and sounds of our language are often so maddeningly inconsistent — "blue" and "blew," "chute" and "shoe" — that, as her exasperated narrator complains, "It could drive you berserk." Aimed at children who already have some facility with language (and at anyone else who likes to play with words), The Alphabet from Z to A is an entertaining and thought-provoking romp through the quirks and quagmires of the English language. Richard Hull's exquisite drawings enrich the text and offer a playful challenge.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This backwards alphabet book not only begins at the end, but lays bare the frustrations of sound-alike words that are spelled differently. In a starred review, PW called it "a pleasing blend of playfulness and sophistication... good (and vocabulary-building) phun." Ages 7-10. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-``An alphabet book for folks who already know their ABCs.'' Presented in reverse order, with observations and discussions about the oddities of the English language, this is an intriguing look at how words are spelled and pronounced. Viorst laments the fact that ``W is for WHO but not HOOT,'' ``U is for UNICORN but not ONION,'' ``J is for JEWEL but not GEM,'' and so on. Written in loose clever verse, the peculiarities of the sounds and sights of each of the 26 letters are presented. The illustrations are beautifully detailed acrylic paintings with many small objects beginning with that letter intertwined with the letter itself, much like a medieval manuscript. There is lots of white space around each letter, though the pictures are too small for large group use. Hull's colors and style are reminiscent of Graeme Base's in Animalia (Abrams, 1987), although not as opulent. Older chldren may find this helpful in a study of linguistics; it may even inspire them to find examples of their own. There is an author's note and a list of all the items to identify in each illustration. An additional curiosity for extensive alphabet collections.- Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689317682
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/1/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,020,340
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Viorst was born and brought up in New Jersey, graduated from Rutgers University, moved to Greenwich Village, and has lived in Washington, DC, since 1960, when she married Milton Viorst, a political writer. They have three sons and seven grandchildren. A 1981 graduate of the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, Viorst writes in many different areas: science books; children’s picture books—including the beloved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; adult fiction and nonfiction; poetry for children and adults; and musicals.

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