Monday, October 6, 2014

danyelle recommends Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier

When I was young (think four or five), my sisters and I were allowed to watch television until Mom rang the dinner bell.  (Yep, we actually had a dinner bell.)  Dinner-prep time was when PBS showed The Electric Company, and I loved the segment called "The Adventures of Letterman" where the villain, Spell Binder, created havoc by changing a letter in a word.  The hero, Letterman, then came to the rescue by ripping a letter off his sweater and changing the word back to the original, or better yet, by changing the word to something else entirely.  Letterman could fix all kinds of perilous situations with the power of a single letter.  Michael Escoffier's new book, Take Away the A, reminds me of that.

In it, each letter of the alphabet is featured on a double-page spread where a word is transformed by taking away just that letter.  For example, "Without the A the BEAST is the BEST" and, "Without the E BEARS stay behind BARS."

The illustrations take the cleverness up a notch, with a droll cast of animals and personified inanimate objects inhabiting small, individual stories that extend the text and are funny, funny, funny.   Jam flirts with Peanut Butter, saying, "Jam I am" as a slice of bread sits on a plate nearby, presumably to become a sandwich when the two jars get together.  "SNOW falls NOW" on two unfortunate pigs who are sitting under their beach umbrella clad in swimwear.  And I won't give away P's story, but trust me, it's good.  In a twist for the letter Z, a curtain call loosely wraps the stories together and provides a tidy sense of completion.

Readers will want to linger before turning pages and may find themselves looking for word pairs of their own.

Take Away the A
by Michael Escoffier
illustrated by Kis Di Giacomo
published by Enchanted Lion Books
September 2014

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