Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Call for a New Alphabet by Jef Czekaj

X is a good letter. In fact, X is a great letter! That’s why he’s so sick of being stuck at the bottom of the alphabet. Why should he always have to hang around with W, Y, and Z? Why does every alphabet book pair him with xylophones and x-rays? Why does A always get to be first? X is tired of all these rules – he’s ready for a new alphabet! After rallying the other letters (aren’t Q and U sick of each other? Why should I and E have to change places when C comes along?), everyone agrees to hold a referendum on the alphabet. But that night X dreams about what it’s like to be other letters: S has confusing rules about how to make things plural, Y is sometimes a vowel and sometimes a consonant, V isn’t allowed to end words on its own… it’s not easy being any of these letters! When it comes to the big vote, what’s an X to do? Will the alphabet be changed forever?

Jef Czekaj is becoming one of my go-to picture book and graphic novel authors. I love his sense of humour and storytelling style. My favourite things about this book were the subtle (or not-so-subtle) jokes and details, like P in the pool, X climbing up on to a literal soap box, houses shaped like letters. Some of the pages had a lot going on in terms of characters, words and speech bubbles, but it never completely crossed the line into too overcrowded. I think there are a number of places where this book would be a great fit: for a kid who feels like it’s not fair that they’re always stuck at the back of an alphabetical line, readers who’ve got the alphabet down and who like word play and puns, a discussion on rules and lawmaking, and a look at how not everyone is the same but everyone has strengths to bring to the table.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin and John Archambault
The Lemonade Crime by Jacqueline Davies
Hip & Hip, Don’t Stop by Jef Czekaj
Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj
Paulina P (for Peterson) by Lisa Cinar

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