My Big Brother) crafts a stage set"/>

ELLSWORTH'S EXTRAORDINARY ELECTRIC EARS: And Other Amazing Alphabet Anecdotes

Valorie Fisher, Author . Atheneum/Schwartz $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-85030-1

This pleasingly eccentric alphabet book unfolds in a series of of sassy, splashy mixed-media dioramas. For each letter, Fisher (My Big Brother) crafts a stage set from small toys, miniatures, paper cut-outs and found objects, and she headlines each tableau with an alliterative statement. For example, she writes, "Alistair had an alarming appetite for acrobats," a line made all the funnier by the visual rendering. Alistair is an open-jawed (toy) alligator who almost seems to salivate as he looks at the paper-doll tightrope walker daintily crossing a string just above his head. The joy here is not just in Fisher's jokes, but also in her meticulously layered visual scenarios. Readers will want repeat viewings to discover all the alphabetically and thematically linked objects. "Betty believed in a big but balanced breakfast" finds Betty (a bear) at the beach, literally balancing a banana, a blueberry, bread and butter, a beet and more on her nose. Nearby stands a baseball player, a baby holding a balloon, and so on. In its approach and eye-popping execution, this book recalls the I Spy or Look-Alike titles, but with its goofy imagery (pigs in feathered tutus; Stanley the stegosaurus munching his way through the produce aisle at the supermarket; an invisible ice cream shop selling flavors like "vanishing vanilla"), it's not a direct descendant of those titles but a soon-to-be-cherished zany cousin. Ages 4-8. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-689-86087-4
Paperback - 36 pages - 978-1-4424-0658-2
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-689-83736-4
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