Kid Lit Review of “Once Upon An Alphabet” by Oliver Jeffers


This book of “short stories for all the letters” is another remarkably creative and unconventional flight of imagination by the talented Oliver Jeffers (illustrator of The Day The Crayons Quit).

For each letter, Jeffers tells a little story, accompanied by adorable pictures. Some of the stories are even connected to one another – for example, to find out the answer to a dilemma posed at “E” you need to refer to “N,” and the cup that breaks in “C” reappears in “O” and “T”.


Some stories feature alliteration, like M:

“Mary is made of matter.
So is her mother.
And her mother’s moose.

In fact, matter makes up everything
from magnets and maps to
mountains and mattresses.”

All of them are humorous in a very quirky way, for example, W:

“The ingenious inventor [we learned about him at the letter “I”] had
a favorite invention of all –
the Whiraffe.

It had the head of a whisk
and the body of a giraffe.

They became great friends over
the years and enjoyed strawberries
and whipped cream.”


“P” and “R” and “S” are especially hilarious (and “S” is also connected to “O”). Some of them have dark beginnings but happy endings. To me they show a respect for the complexity and perceptiveness of young minds not often acknowledged by authors for books for this age group.


Evaluation: The witty wordplay and whimsical pictures will delight readers of all ages. For ages 5 through adult.

Rating: 5/5

Published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, a member of the Penguin Group (USA), 2014

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6 Responses to Kid Lit Review of “Once Upon An Alphabet” by Oliver Jeffers

  1. Belle Wong says:

    I love these drawings! I think I really must get my hands on The Day the Crayons Quit first, though. What a title!

  2. Beth F says:

    What a great book. I hope I remember it next time I need a good gift for a young one.

  3. BermudaOnion says:

    Oh my gosh, this looks fantastic!

  4. sagustocox says:

    This sounds fantastic for my little girl!

  5. Trish says:

    Bought it! I think Elle will get a kick out of it (or at least her mama will). 🙂

  6. stacybuckeye says:

    Yay, our library has it. Just put it on hold.

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