I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the huge stack of books I want to write about on this blog. In order to avoid my usual response, which would be to write nothing at all, I will choose a simple book.
Even though it's simple, it's still great. I've already written about Stephen T. Johnson's City by Numbers, but his Alphabet City is also worth taking a look at. At least, the Caldecott judges thought so, for they awarded it an Honor Medal.
There are certainly numerous alphabet books out there, so why pick up this one? I suppose one answer would be that it challenges you to see everyday objects as letters: the Brooklyn Bridge is an M, the curve of a railing is a J, and so forth. However, Johnson's illustrations are so extraordinary -- they border on photography -- that the letter hunt is really a vehicle for exploring beauty in the public urban environment. In fact, I found I was examining the overall composition of the urban objects, rather than actually searching for the letters.
Although, the book is called Alphabet City, most objects will be familiar to non-city kids: lamp posts, leaves on a sidewalk, telephone poles, park benches. Check it out, you will be inspired to take a look around you.
Take a look at the author's website. He has done some interesting public art projects, including murals at the Dekalb subway station in Brooklyn and a proposal for the World Trade Center Memorial.
Big Kid says: That must be in the train station.
Little Kid says: A!