In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, December 20, 2010

An appetizing alphabet

Dear Aunt Debbie,

What an unsettling customer story!  I wonder if being in a children's bookstore also brings out the deep immaturity in some people....  I'm glad it ended the way it did, and wish you no one like that in the store this week.

I didn't mean to sound grinchy in my last post -- I love holiday books too, and I do want to hear about the other Christmas Eve titles you read each year.  I'll get back to Christmas books on Friday.  For now, though, here's another of our favorite alphabets.

A Apple Pie
is a British alphabet rhyme from the 1600s, detailing what happens to an apple pie with every letter of the alphabet: "B bit it, C cut it, D dealt it," etc.  I grew up with the wonderful Kate Greenaway version, which has just been republished -- lots of girls in empire-waisted dresses and little white caps digging into and playing wholesome-looking games with their pies.

The version we have now is illustrated by Gennady Spirin, and is pleasingly odd.  The pie in Spirin's drawings is gigantic: not a normal pie, but one which on some pages much be rappeled down by tiny soldiers and inspected (the letter I, natch) with scientific instruments.  Each page is packed with detail: not only the letter and its accompanying sentence and illustration, but also an animal and another food beginning with the same letter.  A comes with ants crawling over an apple, for example.  It rewards close looking.

And now I'm off to get as close as I do these days to bookstore work by reshelving the many, many books Isabel has thrown to the floor in her tornado-like fashion. 

Love, Annie

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