My Favourite Alphabet Books, by Eoin McLaughlin

Published on: 09 March 2020 Author: Eoin McLaughlin

A brilliant compendium demonstrating Eoin's favourite genre highlights...

Did you know the alphabet is 4,000 years old?

I love the fact that thousands of years later we’re still finding new stories that weave the same letters together. There’s a very special kind of mischievous fun that comes from derailing the alphabet, and surprising us on the journey from A-Z.

From ASTOUNDING to ZANY, here are my all-time favourite alphabet books for all ages.

By Isabelle Arsenault
Books don’t get more beautiful than Isabelle’s. Someone much more literate than myself put it down to the “gentle flow of her lines”. Which might be true, but I’d also say she’s pretty darn funny. From the kilo of cake to Charlie Chaplin’s hat, this book will make you SMILE.

P is for Pterodactyl - The Worst Alphabet Book Ever
By Raj Haldar, Chris Carpenter & Maria Tina Beddia
This book is too funny. It’s hilariously uncompromising - ‘Q is for Quinoa’ and ‘M is for Mnenonite’ - but there’s enough going on here for all ages to have a hoot. In many ways it’s the anti-alphabet book, poking fun at the idiocy of English. ‘K is not for Knot’ might just be the funniest line in any of these books.

Alphabet Street
By Jonathan Emmett & Ingela P Arrhenius
Do you love books? Do you love houses? Then you’ll love this house shaped book! Ingela’s illustrations are a pop art delight and the whole thing folds out into an entire street. Brilliant fun for tiny hands.

Read our review

The Alphabet People
These ridiculous characters started off life as the stars of their very own educational TV show in America, but their books contain some of the most gloriously silly rhymes in all the world. They sound super when read aloud and will bury themselves deep inside your cortex. Psychedelic and completely insane.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's ABC
By Eric Carle
Did you know, Eric Carle has sold over 103 million books - that’s one for every single caterpillar in the whole world. I love reading his books to my son and shouting all the noises together. All his animals are always so weird and full of life. They look like they’re about to stampede off the page. Incidentally, anyone know what sound a yak makes?

The Dangerous Alphabet
By Neil Gaiman & Gris Grimly
“A is for Always, that's where we embark; / B is for Boat, pushing off in the dark”. Being a book by Neil Gaiman, it remains just as atmospheric the whole way through. Disembodied eyeballs and frog people in bowler hats. Further proof the alphabet book isn’t just for nursery.

Speaking of which...

The Gashlycrumb Tinies
By Edward Gorey
WARNING. This is most definitely NOT a book for young children. Being concerned, as it is, with 26 grizzly deaths. Listed in Alphabetical order. The darkest of humour, by the master of ghastliness.

Today I Feel… An Alphabet of Feelings
By Madelena Moniz
And finally, here’s a brilliant way to start a conversation about the different emotions we all feel. Nervous, curious, jealous. Madelena’s illustrations capture the feeling of being a child more perfectly than anything else I can think of.

Read our review

Not an Alphabet Book: The Case of the Missing Cake by Eoin McLaughlin and illustrated by Marc Boutavant is out now from Walker Books.


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