An Artist's Alphabet by Norman Messenger is a title from a new imprint of one of my favorite picture book publishers, Candlewick Press. Candlewick Studio was created to offer readers of all ages titles "characterized by elegant, engaging design; captivating, well-presented concepts and content; the highest-quality illustration; and superior production values." Judging by the first two titles from this imprint, GIVE & TAKE by Lucie Félix and An Artists's Alphabet, they have instantly and marvelously delivered on their promise. In 2012 I reviewed two of Norman Messenger's books, Land of Never Believe: Explored and Documented by Norman Messenger AND Imagine. Like another favorite picture book author and illustrator, Anthony Browne, Messenger is a superbly gifted artist who brings a rarely seen surreal style to the world of kid's books and I am so happy to be reviewing his newest book, An Artist's Alphabet.
At first glance, An Artist's Alphabet seems like it is following a familiar formula. Acrobats stretch and bend to make upper and lower case As. Caterpillars curve as they munch leaves to create upper and lower case Bs. Then, upper and lower case Cs arc, about to crash, evoking the work of Japanese artist, Hokusai.
As the alphabet unfolds, you find yourself thinking and wondering, trying to connect the illustration to the letter. Sometimes Messenger uses negative space to create the letter and sometimes you have to stare at the page before you see the letter. Reading this book with a child is sure to inspire many different conversations and maybe even a little creative exploration outside of the book. As the blurb for Messenger's book aptly states, An Artist's Alphabet is, "ingenious and intriguing, beautiful and full of stunning detail, this is an alphabet book sure to invite many repeat readings." While this book may not appeal to all children (or adults), An Artist's Alphabet is a book that a child will never forget, well into adulthood, and return to often.
Source: Review Copy