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A is for Salad Hardcover – March 20, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lester (Really, Really, Really Bad Jokes) stands ceremony on its ear in this deviant abecedarian picture book, aimed at an audience who already has a firm grasp of their ABCs. As he breezes through the letters of the alphabet (well, most of them--"X and Y are not important letters. Never use them" he notes dryly), Lester dreams up a series of flagrantly flawed definitions, which he promptly undercuts with his illustrations. "A is for salad," for instance, shows an alligator eating a bowl of greens, and Lester tosses in a throwaway line after every few letters ("H is for pizza... I think"), adding to irreverent readers' glee. His full-color woodcuts of animal characters that seem to mug for readers' benefit often contribute to the wit, as in "G is for soccer," which shows a goat butting a soccer ball. But a few may be difficult to discern (e.g., "J is for hats" spotlights jellyfish whose identities are somewhat camouflaged by their chapeaux), and one illustration works against the conceit he's set up: in the vignette for "I can't figure out what Q is for. Can you?" all signs ("Look! It's a Quail!") point to the tiny, startled bird itself. The literal-minded will be happy to note that the animals reappear on the endpapers, along with their rudimentary labels ("K is also for kangaroo" and so on). A fun cavort through the 26 letters. All ages. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 1-Lester presents each letter of the alphabet through a cartoonlike animal that actually begins with that letter, accompanied by totally unrelated text. For example, "A is for salad" has an alligator munching on a bowl of greens, "L is for hair dryer" has a lion blowing out his mane, etc. The back endpapers provide the correct correlation ("A is also for alligator"). Children just learning their letters will not benefit from this type of confusion, and the book provides little substance for older readers whose sense of humor has progressed past the tiger-in-underwear stage. Some of the examples are simply pointless, such as "X and Y are not important letters. Never use them." This spread depicts two garbage men carting the letters off to their truck. Many unique and interesting alphabet books are available such as George Shannon's Tomorrow's Alphabet (Morrow, 1998) or Stephen T. Johnson's Alphabet City (Viking, 1995). Pass on this one.
Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (March 20, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399233881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399233883
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,243,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is an alphabet book intended for both children and adults. I say that because as I read, I could not stop laughing. Each page has an illustration of an animal representing the letter, but the animal is performing an activity. A perfect example the cover where "A Is for Salad" refers an alligator eating salad. It will be a challenge for youngsters and a delight for adults.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw this book, I couldn't get over how much fun it was! I've seen ABC books based on fireman's activities, on baby's day, on animals from Montana, but this stands the whole genre on its head! A is for the alligator eating the salad--and a kid who has just learned his ABCs is going to get the joke. It's sophisticated humor for the young reader, and I think that kids will enjoy being let in on the fun.
I definitely recommend buying it. A great activity: Have kids write & illustrate their own non-traditional abc book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am the children's librarian at a public library in Wisconsin, and when I first saw this book, I fell out of my chair laughing! I decided to use it for "silly stories" in my story hour, and all the kids got a great kick out of identifying what the letter REALLY stood for. Children may have a hard time identifying the animals for "N" and "I" but otherwise, each letter is well-represented. The illustrations are beautifully done with lots of color and they are balanced nicely on the page. If you're looking for an alphabet with a twist (and to test your child's knowledge), try this one!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sue Keefer on April 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm the director for a bookmobile and I'm always searching for good kids' books to read aloud. I LOVE this book...the illustrations are GREAT, the idea is fantastic. I chuckle every time I look at the cover. As soon as I got it, I read it to my husband and 14 year old daughter. Please, Mike Lester, write more...soon!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kara Reuter on September 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
As the title makes obvious, Mike Lester's A Is for Salad is an unconventional alphabet book. The reader's participation will unmask this as a straightforward animal alphabet book cloaked in humor. Each letter receives its own page, with a hand-drawn letter and a fractured statement. "C" is for hot dog (eaten by a cat); "J" is for hats (worn by jellyfish); "T" is for polka-dotted underpants (worn by a tiger). The illustrations, done with rich colors and crosshatched lines, are somewhat dark in appearance and character; animals appear annoyed or embarrassed with their squinty eyes and nervous grins. The illustrations depict silly situations (a lion blow-drying his mane) and nearly naughty scenes (an elephant's behind exposed in the back flap of its pajamas). These illustrations combined with the unconventional outlook of the book make for an exceedingly devious and sly mood for the book. Children who have recently learned their ABC's will enjoy recognizing the correct letter and will take pride in "being in on the joke."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Kessinger VINE VOICE on May 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I work at a public library in the kids' dept., so when I saw another alphabet book I almost passed it by, but the picture on the front of the book of an alligator eating a salad really piqued my curiosity. "A is for Salad??? What???" I said, and had to open the book to see what was going on. I didn't just look at a page or two, but had to read through the whole thing - it was just so cute and had me smiling as I figured out what each letter REALLY stands for. Great to get kids thinking while having fun, each picture depicts an animal beginning with the featured letter engaged in some activity. For example, an alligator is eating a salad. There are a few animals, such as the iguana and narwhal, which have helpful clues as to the animals' identities hidden in the pictures. Kids may need help to identify the jellyfish and vulture, though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ulyyf on July 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a HILARIOUS little book for kids who already know the tired old, tried-and-true routine of A is for alligator, B is for bird, C is for cat, D is for dog. (Actually, in this book B is for a VIKING who also happens to be a beaver, but that's beside the point.)

Each letter shows the actual correct animal demonstrating the wrong noun. My favorites have to be "I can't figure out what Q is for, can you?" when the picture shows several signs pointing "Look, it's a quail!" and "X and Y are not important letters. Never use them" with a xylophone and a yo-yo poking out of a garbage truck. Though T is for Polka-dotted Underpants is sure to get a laugh from kids who know not to talk about underpants!

I adore this book muchly, and for the younger or more literal children there's a neat appendix explaining what all the letters (excepting X and Y, oddly) REALLY stand for.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
I love the editorial reviews from the School Library Journal. They are either absolutely exactly on point and 100% helpful, or so laughably, wackily, churlishly, sourly wrong that, like Mugatu in "Zoolander", I feel I "must be taking crazy pills".

"A Is For Salad" is marvelously subversive. Every bright kid I know has a keenly subversive sense of humor. Things that are intentionally wrong are hilarious. If a fart can be funny think how funny a mixed up alphabet book is. A kid engages in more valuable inductive and deductive reasoning while reading or being read this book than could be found in a dozen cute standard acceptable abc books. It's a great find.
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