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Thursday, January 5, 2012

E-MERGENCY, written by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle Books, 2011. $18.99 ages 5 and up

"After the ambulance exited, A assembled the alphabet.
Someone is going to have to take the place of E while she gets better. O, you're the obvious option., because you're so well-rounded.
But I'm SOooOO busy! Why can't one of the consonants help out?
Don't be obnoxious, O. You know the consonants just speak gibberish without us vowels."

If you don't know from the above quotation that you are in for a bucket of fun, you will just have to read more of this zany and wonderful new book.

It seems that the whole alphabet has found housing together. One fateful morning, E is descending the stairs when she takes a tumble and must be transported to the ER. With no E available and A in charge, O is given the task of taking over and doing E's job. No one can use E...she is laid up for a while.

And the hilarity ramps up:

"That's right. Starting right NOW, it's O instead of E. That's it, poriod."

It takes some practice to be ready to read this tale aloud. Have you considered how much E is used in our daily reading, writing and speaking? Memos are sent, government announcements are made, and the other letters make sure that the news gets out through talk show banter on many channels. It is a laugh riot!

There are jokes galore and so much to read on every page. The illustrations are filled with dialogue and banter between the letters. The front endpapers give us a taste for the fun to come. On one side we meet 'the cast', consisting of all the letters of the alphabet and some punctuation while the facing page offers 'the other cast'....that is, E on crutches with a cast on her foot. Oh, boy!

Clever asides, perpetual puns, convoluted 'e-less' newspaper headlines will have readers poring over the pages and spouting chuckles and guffaws. It can't be helped. I was constantly rethinking what I was reading, and kids will do the same.

With E unresponsive to treatment, the letters take their dilemma world wide asking for assistance in helping her heal. They ask everyone to stop using E and thus give her the rest she needs. Finally, they turn their attention to the narrator and 'eh! voila!' E's health is immediately restored.

'Just in time for ....thE End.' Wonderful, witty and wise! What more can I say?

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