Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for all the Letters
Author: Oliver Jeffers
Published October 14th, 2014 by Philomel
Goodreads Summary: If words make up the stories and letters make up the words, then stories are made up of letters. In this menagerie we have stories made of words, made FOR all the letters.
The most inventive and irresistible book of the year spans a mere 26 letters (don’t they all!) and 112 pages. From an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet is a creative tour de force from A through Z. Slyly funny in a way kids can’t resist, and gorgeously illustrated in a way readers of all ages will pour over, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet in a way that will forever raise the bar.
In Once Upon an Alphabet, #1 New York Times bestseller Oliver Jeffers has created a stunning collection of words and artwork that is a story book, alphabet book, and gorgeously designed art book all in one.
Kellee’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Oliver Jeffers is just brilliant. Everything he does is unique, and he actually keeps surprising me with each new book. And he makes me laugh out loud, which is always such a treat. This book has 26 quirky short stories, each corresponding with a letter. Each story has characters, plot, theme, and conflict, and each is quite clever and funny. It is just so well done!
I’d love to see this book used as a read aloud for 26 days. Each day as a different letter. With every letter, teachers could focus on different things: the letter, illustrations, voice, characterization, plot arc, conflict, theme, mood, figurative language, etc. It would be a great opener to the day and would also be a lot of fun to ask students to write their own stories for the letters. This pushes an alphabet book to a whole different level!
Ricki’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I agree with Kellee. Decades from now, children will still be enjoying Jeffers’ books. For me, he is comparable to the greats in children’s literature. My favorite part about this book was the way he connected the letters. It made me excited when he returned to some of the previous short stories.
This book begs for students to write. The short stories teach literary skills in an engaging way. Kellee’s idea was similar to my own. I would love to see a classroom book of these letters. Each student could be assigned a letter or two. With some funding, perhaps the students could bring a bound version home. It would be much more fun for students to practice letters when they can read their classmate’s stories! The way Jeffers flexes his creative muscles would also be inspiring to high school students.
Discussion Questions: Which letter’s story was your favorite? Why?; In what ways was Oliver Jeffers creative in his storytelling?; Can you think of other stories for each letter?
Read This If You Loved: Any books by Oliver Jeffers, Eric Carle, or Dr. Seuss
**Thank you to Penguin Young Readers Group for providing copies for review!**