It's a little librarian-nerdy, but every once in a while, I like to get my fix of The Horn Book, the venerable trade magazine of the children's book business. It's like reading KidScreen, the kids TV industry magazine, only slightly less--ok, a lot less--frenetic, brazenly commercial, and jargony.
The March/April issue has a nice, lengthy, not-exhaustive article about ABC books by Lolly Robinson, which introduced me to Lisa Campbell Ernst's The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book [which actually made the magazine's cover, too]:
[The book] shows a single letter on each square page with text circling it to describe what the letter looks like from each angle. For example, “E dreams of being” (turn the book ninety degrees clockwise) “an electric plug” (turn another ninety degrees so it is upside down), “a number three” (turn again), “candles on a birthday cake.” Since she doesn’t attempt to use words that begin with the letter, this is really that simplest name-the-letter kind of alphabet book.Which is only one of several genres of alphabet book, the kind that deals with letter shape, not sounds or words.
Robinson's article overlaps here and in several other points, with Betty Carter's look back at ABC books from 1994 [you gotta imagine that a children's book magazine will cover the alphabet book beat pretty regularly.] Sometimes they do make them like they used to.
And the funniest is Patrick Jennings' list of bad ideas for alphabet books, though I think some of them could be pretty funny: BFD; K, K, K, Let's Hear It for K!; and V is for Viagra: A Pop-up ABC are just the beginning. Coming soon to an Urban Outfitters gift display near you.
Mar/Apr 08: Let's Start At The Very Beginning [hbook]
May 94: Alphabet Books
Nov 07: Abecedarians Badly Conceived
Buy The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book for about $11 [amazon]