January 6th, 2012
We love Alphabet books! They come in such a vast array of subject matters and formats. The Alphabet book got its start teaching children their ABCs while providing cute and memorable examples of words beginning with each letter. Often, there are engaging pictures or cute rhymes. We have a small display of some of our favorites Alphabet books out in Special Collections. Our small exhibit contains mostly artists’ books, with a few pop-up books and one or two others. Most of our books are not really written for children, but are just taking advantage of the genre to make a beautiful or interesting book. Come in and take a look. Here is a preview of a few titles:
The White Alphabet, by Ronald King at the Circle Press, is one of the most intricately crafted of our books. It is a double-sided concertina alphabet book, without text. Each fold opens up to reveal a pop-up letter, exquisitely crafted of RWS hand-made paper and sandwiched between inlaid wooden boards.
The Gorey Alphabet by Edward Gorey is an entire alphabet of terrible occupations and pastimes, such as Fetishist or Xenophobe. There is nothing like Gorey’s macabre sense of humor. No cute and cuddly animal friends or bright colorful illustrations grace these pages. This is an alphabet book for only the most fearless of children, and of course, all who appreciate such things.
Michael Roberts is an artist for The New Yorker magazine, a photographer, filmmaker, and fashion writer. His Jungle ABC is a colorful, beautifully conceived, collaged alphabet book using imagery from Africa. Perhaps the average child might not appreciate the beauty of this world as much as the adults, but we love the vibrant energy of this alphabet. With its exotic words to learn and fascinating images to decipher, it is definitely an entertaining book. The book is forwarded by model, Iman, who talks about inspiration found in the mystery and power of the jungle.
ABC–3D, by Marion Bataille, is another pop-up book that won awards for being the best children’s book of the year. It has a lenticular cover that changes letters as you shift the book. The color scheme is graphically interesting in red, white, and black. The book does more than just pop-up. Some of the pages have movement, such as the pinwheel S. Robert Sabuda called it “One of the most delightful and innovative pop-up books I have ever seen.”
A Tool Alphabet, by Laura Davidson is an artists’ book we like a lot. Beautiful printed tools and letters are on each page. The book is offset printed, with an embossed cover and held together with copper grommets. Some of the tools are not ones I recognize, but then, my experience with hardware may be somewhat limited.