The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman is a clever alphabet book. While it’s clearly a children’s book, it has an element of spookiness to it and somber, spidery illustrations that make it just right for adults too. The illustrations by Gris Grimly are not my normal preference. I tend to like more realistic illustration and these are fantastical, angled illustrations. But they were just right for this story. Nothing else would fit with this “piratical ghost story.”
I read The Dangerous Alphabet a few times before I got it. Why? Because I read it in between A to Z and In Between and Dr. Seuss’s ABC. The Dangerous Alphabet is not your average alphabet book. It fits somewhere in between the “Critical-Thinking Abecedaria” and the “Alphabet Storybooks” categories I discussed yesterday. The reader must think in a number of different ways as he or she reads.
First, as the foreword warns, the alphabet in this book “is not to be relied upon.” (For example, “C is the way that we find and we look,” an example of the play on words that makes this so delightful to the English major type in me.) There are a number of other “problems,” too.
Second, The Dangerous Alphabet is a definitive picture book: you must read the illustrations along with the text in order to follow the story. It is “spooky” and could “spook” children, but for one who doesn’t like Halloween because of the spookiness, I have to say this was alright with me. Neil Gaiman fans will love it, I’m sure.