This delightful picture book could well qualify as a child's first foray into the horror genre - in a whimsically creepy sort of way. This story, told in rhyming couplets, features "two children, their diminutive but no less courageous gazelle, and a large number of extremely dangerous trolls, monsters, bugbears, creatures, and other such nastinesses, many of which have perfectly disgusting eating habits and ought not, under any circumstances, to be encouraged." I had no idea that Neil Gaiman had written a picture book until I read Chris's irresistible review of it. Thanks, Chris!
The two children take a spooky boat ride into the hidden underbelly of the city, replete with all the nasty creatures mentioned above. Their exciting adventures are recounted in simple rhyming couplets, and the wonderful accompanying illustrations offer a variety of objects that start with each alphabet letter. My children, well beyond the usual age for alphabet books (seven and nine years old), had a great time reading the book with me, looking for objects that started with each letter - as well as the out-of-order letters. My seven-year-old was particularly taken with the children's pet, bursting out as we read with, "I just LOVE the gazelle!"
This book might not be for every child, but for those who enjoy a bit of creepy atmosphere and humorously gruesome characters, it's a must-read. And a great gift idea for Halloween!
The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Gris Grimly (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)
Also reviewed at:
Phoenix & Dragon Wings