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The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book (ALA Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) Hardcover – July 1, 2004
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2–Children who are tired of staid concept books will welcome this one–it literally turns the alphabet on its ear. Each page contains a large block letter enclosed in a square that, when viewed from a different direction–left, right, or upside-down (hence the title)–transforms into an entirely different object. For example, when "J" is rotated clockwise, it becomes, in turn, "an elephant's trunk," "a candy cane," and "a monkey's tail." Some designs, like "O," are easy to spot (bagel, owl's eye, fried egg); others, like "K" (picnic table, a mama duck with two ducklings, Martian's antennae) and "W" (two fish, a cat casting a shadow, a mountain stream), present more of a challenge. With touches of humor and a great deal of creativity, Ernst fashioned this book out of cut paper and surrounded each block with a thick black border that sets off white words. Children will enjoy tilting the pages to see the transformations and will be motivated to come up with ideas of their own.–Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PreS-Gr. 2. Like Laura Vaccaro Seeger's The Hidden Alphabet [BKL F 1 04], this ABC title combines clean, bold graphics with an optical game. Each brightly hued block letter appears on its own page within a box of artfully contrasting color, while a black background pops the complementary colors even more. The visual exercise comes with the lines of text that ring each page, forcing the reader to turn the book in a full counter-clockwise circle to follow the words. When viewed from the side or upside down, each letter forms abstract shapes in which the accompanying text tries to find something recognizable: a sideways Y becomes "a mermaid's tail," for example. The majority of what Ernst sees in the upended letters will be a far stretch for most kids (and even some adults). But preschoolers may use the book to learn their letters and find their own objects within the designs, while older children, including high-school art students, will enjoy the whimsy and optical challenge of finding new forms in the familiar shapes. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
With a younger child, for example, you can just ignore the word-play and book turning [you turn the book to get the joke], and just point out the letters and the sounds they make. While with an older child you can sit back and share the joy of finding out what the author has *done* with the letters; what the jokes are.
In addition, you can play like we have to see what you can make out of the letters. (A good way to make writing fun.)
The only 'con' to this fun book is that it does get rather tiring to keep turning the book around to read the text. But in our opinion that's a pretty small drawback.
Four Stars. ABC fun for all ages.
Now to read this book you better be prepared to do exactly as the title suggests. With each letter we see four different ways to view each letter. Turn the letter "A" one way and it's a bird's beak. Turn it another and it's a drippy ice cream cone. Placing her color contrasting letters in meticulously crafted positions, Ernst is able to draw the most remarkable images from her illustrations. At her best, she does amazing things with difficult letters. I was especially impressed with the "magic wand casting a spell" that came from her elegant letter "G". Ditto the "M"'s, "two fish playing chase". Ernst isn't afraid to stretch her images from time to time, however. The "point of a wishing star" that's supposed to come from an angled "A" is sketchy at best. Ditto the "mama duck and her two little ducklings" that springs from an inverted "K".
Another disadvantage to this book comes from the black borders that surround some of the letters. "The Hidden Alphabet" by Seeger is similar in layout to this book, but has thick black borders that never show the residue of oily fingertips. "The Turn-Around Upside-Down Alphabet Book" doesn't have this advantage. If you touch a page, that page stays touched. And considering that this is a book that is going to enjoy multiple repeated touchings, this works to its disadvantage. I know Ernst isn't to blame here, but for her sake I wish the publisher could've found a better black border substance to withstand the grubby prints of little fingers. After two readings, this book will show its age.
Otherwise, it's lovely. A fun way to get kids interested in the alphabet and nice eye-twisting almost optical illusionary twist on a tried and true form. As alphabet books go, it's fine n' dandy. Not the most inventive out there, but certainly not the least. For Ernst fans, it marks quite a departure. For people who've never encountered her work before, it's a lovely introduction.
Depending on the age and vocabulary of the child you may need to show pictures or drawings of some of the prompts.
We are living through a golden age of children's book publishing. This book is amazing.