The Disappearing Alphabet
Book: The Disappearing Alphabet , by Richard Wilbur, David Diaz, ISBN10: 015216362X, ISBN13: 9780152163624, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2001, Paperback
RICHARD WILBUR, one of America's most beloved poets, has served as poet laureate of the United States. He has received the National Book Award, two Pulitzer Prizes, the National Arts Club medal of honor for literature, and a number of translation prizes, including two Bollingen Prizes and two awards from PEN.
What would happen if the alphabet disappeared? What if there were no letter A? Cows would eat HY instead of HAY. What's HY? It's an unheard-off diet, And cows are happy not to try it. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Wilbur turns his sharp eye to the noble alphabet and imagines what life would be like without these 26 little-but powerful - letters. Packed with humor and witty subtleties, the verse in this captivating picture book is splendidly matched by Caldecott Medal winner David Diaz's hilariously clever illustrations.
Richard Wilbur has twice been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and has also been honored with the National Book Prize, the Bollingen Prize, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Poetry.
David Diaz won the Caldecott Medal for the illustrations in Smoky Night, written by Eve Bunting.
If the alphabet started to disappear, as the premise of this inventively witty book sets up, then the world as we know it would, too. Wilbur (Opposites), a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, starts at the beginning and imagines what life would be like without each of the 26 letters: "If [B] were absent, say, from BAT and BALL,/ There'd be no big or little leagues AT ALL." In addition to pondering words without particular letters, Wilbur playfully points out the symbols' other important functions (e.g., in music, "If there were no such thing as C,/ Whole symphonies would be off key"; or in reference to the roman numeral M in mathematics, "If M should vanish, we would lose, my dears,/ MINCE PIE, MARSHMALLOWS, and a thousand years"). Diaz (Smoky Night), in a clever quip, employs cut-outs as his medium; the rainbow-hued silhouettes set against a white background serve to either amplify or clarify the text. For the destruction of the letter Q, for example (as a result of which "Millions of U's would then be unemployed"), Diaz pictures a wrecking ball aimed at a giant Q while the ground is littered with discarded Us. And, in W, for a more obscure reference to the watermelon shape in Cassiopeia, Diaz enlightens readers with a picture of the constellation. With plenty of brain-tickling words to grow on and a plethora of visual puns, watch this one vanish from the family bookshelf.
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