Customer Reviews: Bruno Munari's ABC
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change
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Alphabet books remain the bane of children's librarians worldwide. Tons of these puppies come out every year. Sometimes they appeal to only certain demographics (like the racecar alphabet books, for example). Sometimes they're incredibly hip and modern and hold zippo interest for the children that they are (supposedly) intended for. Sometimes they're deathly dull affairs that offer nothing new or brilliant and sometimes they're so packed with brilliance that it's difficult to remember what the book's initial importance was in the first place. Step back in time then and view the 1960 creation, "Bruno Munari's ABC". Created by an author/illustrator that, "began his career by exhibiting with the second Futurist movement" in Italy (or so his bookflap says), Munari was an excellent graphic designer in his day. And he gave the world this ABC book, one that remains so incredibly popular that it has appeared on the New York Public Library's "100 Pictur Books Everyone Should Know" for 2004. It's a thick sturdy affair, with pages that would take more than the mere strength of toddlers to tear. More importantly, in spite of its very basic design and concept (showing objects that begin with each letter presented) it remains beautiful to look at and interesting to read.

Your first image in this book is of a luscious orange/red apple sitting in a white space. On its stem crawls a realistically rendered black ant with the only words on the page, "an Ant on an Apple". Then you turn the page to a full double spread of a brilliant Blue Butterfly. It's a deep royal blue, but of a shade that brings to mind deep pockets of the ocean and long shadows late in the day. Munari uses watercolors to their fullest in this book. A careful reading through each page displays objects on white with simple words and recognizable objects. To my mind, the only object here that struck me as a little out of date was the rendering of an old rotary-dial telephone. And in any case I sincerely doubt that your kids will find it unrecognizable. Munari has also included in this book a small fly that breaks out of its own F page to buzz into other interesting shots. There is a mild understated commentary that remarks on this. When, for example, the fly alights on a pink ribboned hat that may soon be crushed by a hammer, the commentary gasps, "look out, fly!".

It's the range of colors in this book that really let it stand out though. Whether you're viewing a purple violin, the pink flesh of a watermelon, the brown of an owl, or the green of a leaf, the book is a visual cacophony of shades and images. There's something about Munari's sparse style that continues to appeal, even to this day. If you want alphabet books that blow you away with their wit and wonder, they exist I assure you. There are probably tons of them out there that seek to impress far more than this creation. But if you want something classic and classy that teaches the alphabet without distracting or obliterating its original message (which is to say, teaching the alphabet in the first place) then "Bruno Munari's ABC" should be a first choice.
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on October 2, 2012
I like the illustrations and how colourful they are. I do read this to my son and he seems to enjoy it, the only drawback is that some of the words are a little obscure. I am still debating whether to get Munari's illustrated zoo book too.
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on August 6, 2011
I bought this book for my 5 yr old grandson after reading about it in Dwell Magazine. It's large, beautifully illustrated with a lot of fun words. He especially likes the watermelon in a wagon with wooden wheels.
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on June 23, 2010
This is a beautiful, unusual children's book (as the other reviewer details). My son loves it, though he isn't allowed to read it on his own... I hope to preserve it for future generations...
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on August 29, 2013
Bruno munari seems to be best known for his illustrations, but this book falls short for me. It was published in 1960 and that is exactly how it looks - very simple drawings with Dick and Jane coloring. There is no story, just a list of 1-4 or 5 words for each letter, which makes it most appropriate for very young children being introduced to the alphabet. But considering this, there are too many "rule breaking" words (knot, knife, eye, onion, shells, ship). The font used for the large capital letter on each page is also not right for a child just learning the letters. The Q and X are especially unusual looking. And less importantly, but still notable, my 2 year old was able to point out that the "red ribbon" is pink (especially obvious since it is wrapped around a rose that is actually red) and the "yellow yacht" is actually a sailboat. Not a great book for anything more than a short word list.
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on January 7, 2015
Get this for your little one. Beautiful drawings, heavy stock paper (for easy page turning). It's a classic of great design for those with discriminating taste.
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on September 30, 2011
Beautiful illustrations! We read this one often. My toddler is still intrigued with this one after a year of reading it she requests "ABC"!
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on January 23, 2015
Beautifully illustrated. My 19 month old son enjoys looking at the pictures and wondering why there is a cat in a cage!
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