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Young Adult Nonfiction – Alphamaniacs

 

ALPHAMANIACS:

BUILDERS OF 26 WONDERS OF THE WORD

Written by Paul Fleischman

Art by Melissa Sweet

(Candlewick Press; $19.99, Ages 12 and up)

 

Alphamaniacs book cover

 

 

Starred Reviews – Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Kirkus

Paul Fleischman’s Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word is a witty YA book about people who have done crazy things with words. Organized like an ABC book, each chapter features something unique. Words can be art such as the poet Mary Ellen Solt who worked closely with typesetters to produce visual poems shaped like flowers.

 

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ALPHAMANIACS. Text copyright © 2020 by the Brown-Fleischman Family Trust. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Melissa Sweet. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

At opposing ends of the “size-matters” spectrum were David Bryce and Robert Shields. Bryce, a micromaniac, produced the smallest full miniature Bible, 876 pages but only 1 13/16 by 1 ¼ inches, bound in gilt-edged leather. Whereas the diarist Shields typed the longest known diary in human history, describing his day in five-minute increments and waking every two hours at night to continue recording.

 

Alphamaniacs int3
ALPHAMANIACS. Text copyright © 2020 by the Brown-Fleischman Family Trust. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Melissa Sweet. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

 

My favorite funnyman in this group of twenty-six amazing stories is Dan Nussbaum who used the letters and numbers on California’s vanity license plates to retell stories from Genesis to Shakespeare. Nussbaum’s shorthand of Romeo and Juliet: “GESSWAT! BE4 HEE SPLIT, ROMEO KISTME! HESSOQT! BYGTME! ISWEAR!

In the 1960s, David Wallace launched a new field called stylometry wherein computers applied statistical analysis to literary style to prove (or disprove) authorship. Ludwik Zamenhof created Esperanto, a universal language, in hopes of uniting the world linguistically. While Jessie Little Doe Baird brought back Wôpanâôt8âôk, the dead language of her people the Wampanoag. After a gap of seven generations, her daughter became its first native speaker!

Throughout, Melissa Sweet’s bold full-color illustrations add another level of enjoyment to the text. An ideal book to read a chapter at a time, marveling at our wonderful words and the people who’ve made magic with them.

Click here to find out more about Paul Fleischman.
Click here to find out more about Melissa Sweet.

 

•Reviewed by Christine Van Zandt (www.ChristineVanZandt.com), Write for Success (www.Write-for-Success.com), @ChristineVZ and @WFSediting, Christine@Write-for-Success.com

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One Word Pearl by Nicole Groeneweg

One Word Pearlby Nicole Groeneweg with illustrations by Hazel Mitchell (Mackinac Island Press/Charlesbridge Publishing, $17.95, hardcover; $7.95, paperback, Ages 5-8), is reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

– Winner of the NAESP Children’s Book Competition, Picture Book category

One Word Pearl Cover Image
One Word Pearl is written by Nicole Groeneweg and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell from Charlesbridge Publishing, 2013.

One of my favorite words is SCRUMPTIOUS. I also like DAPPLED, LUSH, and EXTRAVAGANZA. Although none of those are words that young Pearl collects, she does have some super selections! Floppity, poppity. Pizzazz, sizzled. Noodles, doodles.

The words Pearl chooses and uses are fun to say. But she must ration them carefully after a windstorm swirls through her treasure box filled with clipped words. She squeaks through the week one word at a time until the words run out. After days filled with long silences, Pearl must summon her courage to regain her marvelous vocabulary.

The rhythm of the snazzy synonyms and vivacious verbs makes this story a delight to share. What truly makes this story sparkle are the multilayered words, clipped and placed throughout the illustrations that are softly torn, crumpled and shaded for texture. Pearl also has a feathered friend, a brightly colored bird, who isn’t named in the story, but is a delightful addition for young readers to search for on each page.

This imaginative tale will captivate children and parents who appreciate spoken words as well as words on paper, and encourage their creative use of language to express and describe.

Nicole Groeneweg's One Word Pearl with interior spread illustrations by Hazel Mitchell, Charlesbridge Publishing, 2013.
Nicole Groeneweg’s One Word Pearl with interior spread illustrations by Hazel Mitchell, Charlesbridge Publishing, 2013.

 

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher and received no other compensation.  The opinions expressed here are my own.  Disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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