Alphabet Stories: Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!

BookendsLynn: Picture books are often a goldmine of freshly imaginative creative work, but alphabet books are especially fascinating to me. The alphabet is, after all, a very specific topic! How many ways can an ordered listing of letters be presented, anyway? I am always surprised and delighted at the different ways writers and illustrators play with this old standard.

Mike Twohy’s Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!: An Alphabet Caper (2016) is an incredibly charming example. At first glance, it seems to be the usual one-letter-per-page alphabet book, but readers quickly realize that this alphabet book tells a story, one word at a time. It begins  the word “asleep” and the drawing of a small, sleeping mouse in a chair in front of a hole in the wall. Then a big yellow dog loses his ball in the mouse hole, and when the terrified mouse sprints out, the dog gives chase, leading the two characters through the house and to the end of the alphabet.

oopsI was completely tickled by this twist on a classic idea, as was the youngest member of our focus group, who wanted to read it over and over again. Oops is a must-have for day-cares, primary classrooms, and alphabet-book collections everywhere.

Cindy:  I’m in love with this book. The action-packed illustrations that move the tale along are simple and full of humor. The abundant white space and black line drawings give this a whiteboard and magic marker look, while colorful first letters highlight its alphabetic instruction.

After reading it, I was tempted to create an alphabetic caper of my own, and I’m sure elementary school-aged children would, too; even a sequence of three or four letters with drawings could make for a fun project. I’m even considering putting a copy out for my middle-school students to read—they could stand to brush up on alphabetical order. I’m here to tell you: It’s a dying skill.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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