Sunday, July 17, 2016

61 Books: #32

The project: to read 61 books, of whatever sort—short, long; literature, schlock; prose, poetry: you name it—before December 4, 2016.

The first ten books can be seen here. The second ten are here. Nos. 21–31 are below this post.

32. Maira Kalman, What Pete Ate from A–Z, where we explore the English Alphabet (in its entirety) in which a certain DOG DEVOURS a MYRIAD of ITEMS which he should NOT (2001) (7/17/16)
If I'm going to meet my goal of 61 books by next December, I'm going to have to pick up the pace. Fortunately, picture books are quick and fun, and I've got a few tucked away for emergencies. I picked this one up a few years ago at an exhibit of Maira Kalman's work in San Francisco (but had shelved it unread). What a treat that show was! And what a treat this book is, too, I am happy to finally report.

The "certain DOG" is "the eternally peckish Pete" ("this is not a work of fiction," Kalman notes), and he doesn't devour your usual alphabetic items. For example, he ate cousin Rocky's accordion—all of it!. And a fez. And 25 jelly beans, which caused him to jump for joy.

But Maira Kalman is an artist, and the gouache illustrations are wonderful too. Here, for example, is the letter T (the only letter that doesn't involve Pete eating anything) ➺:

My favorite letter is Q: "Quick Question. Would you love a dog who ate your lucky quarter, the Q from your alphabet collection, your porcupine quill? Even if for the quadrillionth time you said, "Quit it. Don't EAT that," and he did, would you still love that dog? Quite a lot."

In the hands of Maira Kalman, whimsical alliteration is win-win-win.

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