Reviews for A Is for Salad


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 June 2000
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 1^-4. You could call this a fractured alphabet book. Lester does with the ABC primer what Scieszka does with fairy tales: he makes parody into a hilarious farce that both mocks the original and creates its own wonderful silliness. Each wicked picture, in bright acrylics with thick, black lines, is an animal scenario that tells an outlandish story. "L is for hair dryer," with the picture showing a lion blowing his mane with an electric dryer. "D is for remote control," with the picture showing a bespectacled duck in an easy chair trying to change channels. "T is for polka-dotted underpants," as pictured on a smirking tiger enjoying how he looks. X and Y "are not important letters. Never use them," declares the text as the artwork shows them being carted away by garbage collectors. "Z is for The End," as pictured in a view of a zebra from behind. Small, labeled pictures on the endpapers explain that "A is also for alligator, B is also for bear," etc. Of course, this isn't for very young children just learning their letters, but it isn't cute, condescending stuff aimed at adults either. It's for grade-schoolers who will get the jokes and love the irreverent nonsense. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2000)) Copyright 2000 BooklistReviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2000 Fall
The format appears similar to other alphabet books, with each page featuring a capital letter and a comic illustration of an animal, but this one's got a tricky premise: [cf2]A[cf1] isn't for salad, but for the alligator eating the salad; [cf2]B[cf1] isn't for Viking, but for the beaver depicted in Viking garb. Vibrant color caricatures, rendered in a style resembling woodcuts, highlight this atypical alphabet book. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2000 #2
The double-take title gives immediate notice that this is not your typical alphabet book. The format appears similar to others in the genre-with each page featuring a capital letter and an accompanying comic illustration of an animal-but there seems to be some mix-up in the definitions. A is for salad, B is for Viking, C is for hot dog? A closer look reveals the joke. A is actually for the alligator who is chomping on a bowl of salad. B is for the beaver wearing a Viking helmet and carrying a spear. C is for the fat cat holding a steaming, mustard-covered frankfurter. The mismatched definitions will likely confuse children just learning their ABCs, but more advanced readers will appreciate the book's tricky premise. The vibrant color caricatures, rendered in a crosshatched, boldly outlined style that resembles woodcuts, include an elephant stuffed into pink pajamas and an ostrich wearing four bow ties; the expressions on the animals' faces add even more humor. And for those who've read one too many "X is for xylophone, Y is for yo-yo" books, this volume disposes of the problem quite literally-with garbage men hauling those two letters into a dump truck ("X and Y are not important letters. Never use them"). Not your typical alphabet book, indeed! p.d.s. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2000 April #2
Lester debuts with a promisingly irreverent alphabet, inviting a closer look at the pictures by giving them misleading captions: "A" does indeed feature a salad--but an Alligator is eating it. Similarly, "B is for Viking" accompanies a Beaver in a horned helmet, "C" is for a hot dog held by a tubby tiger Cat, and so forth to "Z," which, being for "The End," is exemplified by a Zebra presenting its tush to the viewer. The animals in Lester's stylized menagerie pose in a variety of comically exaggerated expressions, from grumpy to panic-stricken, and the patterned text varies just enough to stave off monotony. Less a reading-skills lesson than a playful exercise in cognitive dissonance, this makes a perfect gateway to Scieszka/Lane territory, or Nicholas Heller's Goblins in Green (1995) and other residents of the picture-book universe's daffier reaches. (Picture book. 5-7) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews

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Library Talk Reviews 2000 September
Like Tomorrow's Alphabet by George Shannon (Greenwillow 1996), this alphabet book is full of strangely twisted humor. Each letter is brightly illustrated with an animal whose name starts with that letter--but the narration is never about the animal's name. Instead, the reader must decipher the relationship between the letter and the picture. For example, "A" is for salad because an alligator is eating the salad. Strangest is the "X" and "Y" page: we're told that "X and Y are not important letters. Never use them." In the illustration, two trash collectors carry garbage cans containing an "X" and a "Y" toward a trash truck, from which hang a xylophone and a yo-yo. Young readers who understand this tongue-in-cheek humor will enjoy the deciphering and find this book hilarious. Others who may be less delighted will still enjoy puzzling over the pages. This book is not quite as successful as Mary Elting and Michael Folsom's classic Q Is for Duck (Clarion 1980). Recommended. By Suanne Johnson, Media Specialist, Hastings Elementary School, Duncanville, Texas © 2000 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 April #1
Lester (Really, Really, Really Bad Jokes) stands ceremony on its ear in this deviant abecedarian picture book, aimed at an audience who already has a firm grasp of their ABCs. As he breezes through the letters of the alphabet (well, most of them "X and Y are not important letters. Never use them" he notes dryly), Lester dreams up a series of flagrantly flawed definitions, which he promptly undercuts with his illustrations. "A is for salad," for instance, shows an alligator eating a bowl of greens, and Lester tosses in a throwaway line after every few letters ("H is for pizza... I think"), adding to irreverent readers' glee. His full-color woodcuts of animal characters that seem to mug for readers' benefit often contribute to the wit, as in "G is for soccer," which shows a goat butting a soccer ball. But a few may be difficult to discern (e.g., "J is for hats" spotlights jellyfish whose identities are somewhat camouflaged by their chapeaux), and one illustration works against the conceit he's set up: in the vignette for "I can't figure out what Q is for. Can you?" all signs ("Look! It's a Quail!") point to the tiny, startled bird itself. The literal-minded will be happy to note that the animals reappear on the endpapers, along with their rudimentary labels ("K is also for kangaroo" and so on). A fun cavort through the 26 letters. All ages. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2000 April
K-Gr 1-Lester presents each letter of the alphabet through a cartoonlike animal that actually begins with that letter, accompanied by totally unrelated text. For example, "A is for salad" has an alligator munching on a bowl of greens, "L is for hair dryer" has a lion blowing out his mane, etc. The back endpapers provide the correct correlation ("A is also for alligator"). Children just learning their letters will not benefit from this type of confusion, and the book provides little substance for older readers whose sense of humor has progressed past the tiger-in-underwear stage. Some of the examples are simply pointless, such as "X and Y are not important letters. Never use them." This spread depicts two garbage men carting the letters off to their truck. Many unique and interesting alphabet books are available such as George Shannon's Tomorrow's Alphabet (Morrow, 1998) or Stephen T. Johnson's Alphabet City (Viking, 1995). Pass on this one.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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