Sweet Juniper's Alphabet

Posted by jdg | Thursday, February 01, 2007 | , ,

As you may have figured from that video Wood posted, we're big on the alphabet around here these days. This week I was really getting sick of all the stupid alphabet books we had been reading, so I decided to make my own. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of Nikki McClure's Awake to Nap and Michael De Feo's Alphabet City, but despite the latter's lovely urban scenery, the subject verbiage itself is a bit humdrum for my taste. Like most alphabet books, the words tend to be either zoological or agricultural. I wanted to create a book for a kid, like mine, who is growing up in a dirty-ass city and who already knows the names of all the animals in the zoo and in the Big Red Barn. De Feo (who did create the beautiful paste-ups for his book) simply doesn't use very many words that aren't that different from those in all of the other alphabet books I've seen. The letter N, for example, is represented in De Feo's book by a nest. Every alphabet book uses a nest for the letter N. Juniper and I seem to be in agreement that nests are kind of irrelevant. I feel it is much more important for her to identify other things that start with the letter N, such as ninjas:

Now if our home is ever attacked by a group of numb-chuck-wielding, star-throwing ninjas, Juniper can shout out a warning that could save all our lives. The same is true for this one:

You traditionalists can teach your kids about all the zebras all you want, but my kid is going to know how to identify a zombie wearing underwear as soon as she sees one. And anyone who has seen a Romero film knows how important a few seconds of warning can be when fending off zombies. The same theory works for mummies, pirates, robots, economists, vikings, and yeti. You won't find them in any other alphabet books, but you will find them in ours. I also threw in some hard words like Gnome and Knight just to mess with her head.

Now I don't want to hear any bullshit about how my kid is going to need therapy or how I'm so politically incorrect etc. etc. ad nauseam. We get plenty of e-mails about that every week. If you have an inclination to point something like that out, just remember you're not as clever as you think you are. Seriously: yawn.

For the past few months whenever I see a painting or a stencil of something that would make a good subject word in an alphabet book, I have snapped a picture. I have so much gratitude for the amazing artists who are out there creating these beautiful works in our streets for little or no recognition, risking so much just to make our cities a little more colorful and interesting.

In a few days I'll probably post some pictures on flickr to show how I turned these images into an actual book, but for now if you have any interest in making one yourself, using or adapting any of the images, or just getting a closer look, click on the 4-paneled jpegs below for high-res downloadable images.

Juniper and I had a lot of fun making this (I knew which images to choose when she pointed at the screen and said, "who's THAT guy?"). Enjoy.

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