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A boy, a girl, and a pet gazelle sneak away from dear old dad and fall into a dark, dank, ABC-filled underground to search for treasure in this ghastly-good picture book that’s more for adults than it is for children. After all, the author of this alphabet is Neil Gaiman, whose other critically-acclaimed children’s books feature beasts out for blood (Wolves in the Walls), obsessively possessive mothers (Coraline), and serial killers (The Graveyard Book; a Newbery winner no less). And when the girl is kidnapped by a decidedly icky ogre and the boy and the gazelle must fight through a nightmarish labyrinth to free her, Gaiman’s colorful partner-in-crime, Gris Grimly, picks up the pace with his spine-tingling illustrations that mix shades of beige and black with splashes of faded reds and pinks. Then, this creepy-crawly alphabet slithers and slinks, and occasionally calls for help as monsters, madmen, fiends, and freaks crowd the pages and threaten readers with this “unreliable” and mysterious alphabet. Rhyming couplets run through the familiar “A is for…” formula and request the watchful eye of the reader to help save the kids and spot the mysteries on the page. The Dangerous Alphabet may be a bit too chilling for children, but its otherworldly tone is sophisticated fantasy in pictorial, alphabetical form.
posted Jan 21, 2010 at 10:56PM
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