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November 15, 2007


I thought the book was just weird.

Yes, I agree, Brett, this is a weird book. But I DO like Martin's language, I have to admit.

As a 12-year-old, I thought Steve Martin's weirdness was brilliant. Either I've aged or he hasn't.

I read a little of this at Barnes & Noble last night, and I think it's really for adults. NYer subscribers will give the book to their grandkids, and guffaw over while they're reading it. To me it seems pretty funny, faxing slacks and all.

Personally, I think Steve Martin is a legitimate writer, not a celebrity. But when I heard about this my first thought was the same as yours. Does the world need an other alphabet book?

I haven't seen the book yet, but I love the review, because it *sounds* as if it would be my reaction. Exactly. Roz Chast *is* a genius, and Martin *can* write. But, I have the same schizophrenic reactions to the "type."

And, I really do think Chast's angst is too angsty for children. I picture my youngest walking away from the book looking like a Chast character.

Yes, it's a problem, isn't it, Gail? I really think Dr. Seuss did this one best. I just can't imagine topping "Big A little a/What begins with A? Aunt Annie's Alligator/A...A...A."

Karen: That's SO funny! I can imagine my oldest looking like a Chast character and I'm afraid she would have been truly frightened as a small child by the illustrations. (BTW: Your comment reminds me I need to put you on the PF schedule....NOW.)

I'm looking forward to seeing this book. A couple of thoughts. Isn't it true that the picture book by its very nature will often be written to two audiences--the adult who reads aloud and the child who listens? And isn't the alphabet form a literary form in its own right--often addressed to those who already know their alphabets very very well?

Think Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry or that sign language alphabet that came out a few years back, or Betsy Bowen's wonderful "Antler Bear Canoe"--these aren't books for learning the ABCs. Maybe asking if the world needs another alphabet book is asking if the world needs another sonnet. Yes--if it does something special with that form.

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Anne Boles Levy

Literary Weed Whackers

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