five quick peeks at artful alphabets

As I’ve been on a quest for art books recently, I discovered along the way a few alphabet books rich in artistry, clever perspectives, delightful antics, and non-electronic play. Not much commentary here — I’ll leave it to you to discover the pleasures in each volume!

There are seemingly innumerable alphabet books out there. I chose this one…


An Artist’s Alphabet, written and illustrated by Norman Messenger
published in 2016 by Candlewick

…because there is such beauty on every creamy page, with letters transformed into a part of the artwork. You can see Hokusai’s wave-shape in the C’s on the book’s cover.

Here are Messenger’s imaginative N’s:

Luxuriously visual and a feast for the imagination.

The Alphabet From the Sky, by Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee
published in 2016 by Price Stern Sloan

…because bird’s-eye views are so intriguing! Look down upon earth from great heights to discover letter shapes within cityscapes and landscapes.

Each two-page spread presents one aerial view, identifies the U.S. location we’re looking at, and challenges us to locate one letter.

Answers and more spot-the-letter challenges are included. An ingenuous way to increase observation and new ways of seeing.

ABC’s on Wheels, written and illustrated by Ramon Olivera
published in 2016 by Little Simon

…because what child is not enamored with vehicles?

Ride along through these snazzy, stylized pages, cram full of vehicles, sprinkled with humor, and loaded with fun vocabulary and concepts that stretch little minds.

This is one you’ll read again, and again, and again…Olivera has an ABC on Wings as well.

B is for Bear: A Natural Alphabet, written and illustrated by Hannah Viano
published in 2015 by little bigfoot

…because this book is dedicated to “all of those who let children run a little wild, climbing trees and splashing in puddles. It is worth all the laundry and lost mittens.” So — I fell immediately in love!

Gorgeous, robust cut-paper artwork reveals the natural world and its extraordinary pleasures.

Just one sentence per page quietly narrates this ode to getting out into the great outdoors. Moseying through this book makes me breathe a bit deeper and feel that wash of peace settling on me. It’s a small stunner.

For more of Hannah’s books and illustration work, see her lovely website here.

A Child’s Day: An Alphabet of Play by Ida Pearle
published in 2008 by Harcourt

…because Orange Marmalade loves imaginative, active, non-electronic play!

And because Ida Perle’s lovely, multi-racial cast of children is so full of joy.

Graceful figures, lovely colors, textures, and patterns, and 26 wonderful ways to grow brighter, happier, healthier, are here to enjoy over and over again. This book makes me happy!

If you love Ida’s art, head on over to her website for more lovely prints.