'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 5 May 2013

Review: Alphabet

Like your ABC books a little bit spectacular? Then this incredible tome is for you.

Following the principle that children most definitely do not think or behave in a linear fashion, this astonishing and beautiful book by Czech artist Kvĕta Pacovská takes the 'order' out of the alphabet and presents it in an artistic fashion that really is quite breathtaking.

This square, hardcover book is presented in a slip case. Its title page features an A E and O cut-out and the imprint page features a flip out face, roughly shaped like the letter A (ie: a triangle).

Subsequent pages showcase a riot of free-form, free-spirited ABC art, with pop-out pages and endless abstract interpretation of letters and their form.

There is some order - but with gentle chaos. Sometimes letters appear more than once. Sometimes they appear in braille. Sometimes they appear as an embossed figure, sometimes a mad scratching of lines, sometimes cut-out, sometimes metallic shine.

Despite the high calibre of art, this is no pretentious, 'artsy' book. It is pure joy. Colour, fun, whimsy, style - a purely child-friendly art book that will have little fingers plucking at shapes and smoothing over textures and oohing and ahhing.

The free-form, childlike wonder of this artist's illustrations are just so utterly engaging . . . if I was so thoroughly enchanted, imagine what a child might feel.

Worth every cent of the slightly elevated children's book price. I collect ABC books - and this one goes to the top of the pile.

Kvĕta Pacovská (b. 1928) studied at the School of Applied Arts in Prague. Much of her work is in graphic and conceptual art, and she has been honoured with a Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration (1992) which recognised her lasting contribution to children's literature.

Title: Alphabet
Author/Illustrator: Květa Pacovská
Publisher: Tate, $45 RRP
Publication Date: 1 May 2013
Format: Hardcover in slip case
ISBN: 9781849761413
For ages: 2+
Type: Picture Book, Pop-Up Book