Synopses & Reviews
A for . . . Achoo?
B for Bump, Bang, and Bop?
C for Crackle, Clank, and Crunch?
This is truly an alphabet with attitude, created by that master of raucous humor, Ross MacDonald. In this hilarious book you'll see clothes ripped off an intrepid game hunter by a ferocious lion (ROAR! RIP! RUN!); a little boy who manages to pin the tail on his father, rather than the donkey. (NO! OH! OOPS! OW!); and an exceedingly plump Santa being crammed down the chimney (JINGLE! JINGLE! JINGLE!).
But wait! There's more! All the words in this book where set in 19th-century wood type and printed in blazing color on a handpress, creating extraordinary visual effects. An endnote accompanied by photographs describes the process and serves as a fascinating introduction to a disappearing craft
Publishers Weekly, starred review In a delirious explosion of vintage typefaces and sharp retro design, MacDonald goes from "A-choo!" to "Zip! Zap! Zing! Zoom." Every pictured situation has a slapstick bent and the onomatopoeia recalls classic biff-bang-pow comic-book fights. For the letter "F," a man steps on a rake ("Fa-dwap! Fwip!"), and for "L," a Valkyrie sings an operatic, sunset-orange "Lah!" (which fills an entire page) as she "leap[s]" from the stage. Given all the noise, some cartoon violence occurs, but it is mild(a young Robin Hood, for instance, shoots a suction-cup-tipped arrow at an enormous red-breasted bird: "Twang! Thwak! Tweet!"). Although each single-page image stands still, MacDonald's deft placement of word-sounds and motion lines suggests antic movement. By examining the positions of a grinning green dragon, a pudgy dappled steed and a fallen knight ("Klip! Klop! Klang! Klank! Ka-pow!"), readers can imagine how the horse galloped up the dragon's spiny back, skidded to a halt and threw its rider. MacDonald salutes 1930s and '40s comic strips with men in suits, devilish toddlers in cutesy ruffles, doe-eyed animals and oily, saturated hues of yellow, red-orange and blue. He block-prints the oversize, playful words with 19th-century wood type, which, according to an informative afterword, was "used to print early American circus posters, newspaper headlines, theater playbills, and `wanted' posters." MacDonald blends antique design traditions, an offhand history lesson and a pleasingly silly sense of humor in this idiosyncratic alphabet book. Hip hip hooray! Booklist Old-fashioned, blocky typefaces and art reminiscent of early illustrated children's books characterize this energetic alphabet book. Children will have a blast calling out the noisy abecedarian words, and adults interested in the disappearing craft of mechanical printing will appreciate the effort that went into the design: the art was created using nineteenth-century wood type. Only one typeface is repeated, but given the variety of type styles, colors, and sizes used, it's nearly impossible to determine which one. Some of the words are invented ("Fa-dwap! Fwip!" is the noise heard when a man steps on the tines of a rake, causing the handle to smack him in the head), but vocabulary isn't the point here; it just adds fun. An author's note, complete with photographs, describes the mechanical printing process and how this particular art was created. School Library Journal With all the exuberance of a marching band, this "Noisy Alphabet" explodes on the page. From "Achoo!" to "Zip! Zap! Zing! Zoom!" MacDonald treats readers and listeners to a bounty of sounds and an abundance of visual humor. Santa's reindeer "jingle" as they jump on Santa's "jiggle" bottom to push him down a chimney, a child pins a tail on an adult on the "NO! OH! OW oops!" spread, and a lion roars as he rips off the back of a hunter's outfit to reveal a bare back and bottom on the running man, while "The End" is the proverbial plump workman's rear. A two-page note explains how the text was created using antique wood type and a vintage printing press. The illustrations, done in an old-fashioned cartoon style, were added after in a warm rainbow palette that totally supports the text. Amid the plethora of alphabet books, Achoo! Bang! Crash! is hard to ignore, easy to appreciate, and sure to delight the young. Pair it with Bill Martin, Jr.'s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (S & S, 1989) for a raucous alphabetic read-aloud.
Achoo! Bang! Crash! presents a raucous alphabet.
With attitude and raucous humor, MacDonald has created a hilarious alphabet picture book using onomatopoeia and interjections to create a very noisy alphabet. Full color.
About the Author
has worked as an egg candler, dishwasher, soda jerk, house painter, street artist, papermaker, and printers. His magazine illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker
, Vanity Fair
, and many other publications. His first picture book for children, Another Perfect Day
, was a Publishers Weekly
Best Book of the Year.
Mr. MacDonald lives in Connecticut with his wife, two children, four cats, and a large collection of 19th-century type and printing equipment.