Grade 3–5—A sophisticated, interactive alphabet tale in which even the letters break the expected pattern. Thirteen rhyming couplets spin the story of two siblings and their pet gazelle who sneak past their father, board a small boat, and follow a stream into a mysterious underworld to search for a treasure. Skillful narrative and visual storytelling combine to present a complex adventure that unravels through multilayered text and illustrations, challenging readers to ponder the numerous levels of plot. When the sister is tempted ashore by villains holding candy and captured, her brother follows in hot pursuit, rushing through a labyrinth realm filled with pirates, monsters, trolls, and other fearsome creatures. Youngsters can mull over questions about the nature of the treasure seeking (the cache turns out to be pretty unappealing) and why W precedes V in the alphabet sequence ("warnings" before "vile deeds"). The gothic illustrations, done in sepia tones and faded color washes, ensure that readers remain riveted throughout the story, since there are spine-chilling details at every turn. Images of objects beginning with the letter featured on the page add to the fun. This is the right book for those who find satisfaction and pleasure in creepy and sinister tales.—Susannah Richards, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT
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Our journey begins on the title page, as two Victorian children and pet gazelle slip away from their father, treasure map in hand, and embark on an alphabetical path through a sewer populated with every sort of ghoul, only to emerge safe at home at the end. Following the “A is for … ” format, Gaiman’s text takes the form of 13 tight, evocative rhyming couplets, hand-lettered by Grimley. Page turns divide each couplet, moving the action forward and building the sense of mystery. The illustrations do double duty, telling the children’s story and filling each letter’s page with suitably ghastly, nominal matter. There’s some disturbing stuff on display (the sewer walls are lined with children bound in chains, straitjackets, and rusty manacles), but the character of the pictures, spiky and knobby and childlike, and a palette of beiges accented by muted pastels, mitigates the creepiness. In the end, Gaiman and Grimley have combined forces to produce an acrid, gothic confection that bubbles with vitriol and wit. Grades 1-4. --Thom Barthelmess --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
The illustrations are a perfect match for Neil Gaiman's simple but slightly threatening poetry. It's certainly a perfect piece for any gothic children's book collection!Published 1 month ago by cbushnell
I checked this book out of a local library and I honestly am not sure what to think.
This book is very scary. Read more
Beautifully drawn, great story, very literary. It's dark though, so don't think you're getting a cheerful happy ending story because it's a children's book.Published 3 months ago by Jessica E
Fun and whimsical prose, with striking illustrations. Great for kids of all ages.Published 5 months ago by Montresor