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Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Alphabet Thief, written by Bill Richardson and illustrated by Roxanna Bikadoroff. Groundwood. 2017. $17.95 ages 8 and up

"The Alphabet Thief
stole all of the M's.
A hockey team turned into tea.
It spilled on the ice - ice that
used to be mice -
And that's not the iced tea
for me!

The Alphabet Thief
stole all of the N's."

Full of fun and zany wordplay, this is an alphabet book that is sure to find fans among kids who love to read something different. It's small format makes it great for sharing with a friend, and its premise will have readers scrambling to come up with some of their own ideas.

Bill Richardson does a commendable job of taking letters from words to make new ones, while also creating a complete transformation for the verse as it began. He makes good on his promise to find a way through the alphabet without losing sight of the wacky idea that set him off. The rhymes are most enjoyable and quirky. Readers will find much here to like.

"CAN NOBODY STOP the Alphabet Thief?
Can nobody end her spree?
Can somebody best her, can someone arrest her
Before she takes all of the G's?"

Repetitive language, terrific rhythms, and well-managed rhyme make it great fun to share. The illustrations that accompany each of the word changes are filled with humor and appealing characters. The thief has a familiar witchy look ... big hat, long nose, striped stockings, buckled boots, a feathered hat and a mask. The little girl, a sleuth-like observer of the actions, is often perturbed by the results of the ever-changing words. Her dog feels much the same. In the end it is up to that young girl to put an end to all of the thievery. Using the letter Y as a slingshot, she pummels the thief with ammo in the form of the letter Z, putting the thief into a state of deep slumber and bringing the Alphabet Thief's spree to a halt! Brava, young lady!

Engaging and detailed, this is a book that will have readers poring over its pages and reading with great exuberance.

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