July 14, 2006

DTBBC: A to Z Picture Book

AtoZNew Cover.jpgTitle: A to Z Picture Book [1974 pb edition, 2002 hb reissue]
Author/Illustrator: Gyo Fujikawa [ALA article on her]
Reviewed by: Tiffany

A mixture of color illustrations and black and white sketches convey flowers, people, items, animals, holidays, actions, and feelings that represent each of the letters of the alphabet. This would not be too different from a Richard Scarry book if it were not for Fujikawa's gorgeous illustrations. Not to take anything away from Mr. Scarry - his work definitely has merit. But Fujikawa's illustrations are in a league of her own.

Her work is delicate and detailed with definite influences from her Japanese heritage. The babies and children have simply drawn, blank, round faces with wispy heads of hair, but are somehow full of expression and emotion. The flowers, animals, and creatures are finely sketched, appearing more lifelike than the humans. Colored plates with gnarly trees or a light snow fall or an unwelcome rainstorm remind me of Japanese watercolor landscapes.

I remember flipping through this book for hours as a kid, absorbing all of the pictures. I was mesmerized. Some images - such as small children running from a witch on a broomstick on Halloween - have been firmly imprinted in my memory. Other illustrations carry so much detail, one could read the book repeatedly and still find something new to discover.

But I particularly enjoy the darling little bits I have not seen drawn anywhere else. Showing actions, we see sketches of a little boy named Kenny who is kowtowing as well as a Peter who is pouting (lower lip protruding). We also find drawings of Nasturtium, Queen Anne's Lace and Edelweiss. In a children's book, no less!

I was so pleased to have found the 1974 edition of this book recently at a garage sale (my childhood copy had long since been annihilated by my little sisters). I love the bright colors of the cover versus the newer, darker cover. Hopefully, the inner content of the new edition has not been changed too much.

Attached are the two book covers. They were tough to find. The book is on Amazon, but no pictures.

[ed. note: doesn't sound too bizarre at all, but that's good; by now, I'm a little bizarre'd out.]

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