Book of the Week: The Dangerous Alphabet


The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Gris Grimly

Published: HarperCollins 2008

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

Neil Gaiman wrote it … I’m unabashedly biased when it comes to all things Gaiman.

I’m completely drawn to (not to mention a complete sucker for) anything horrific, haunting, creepy, and/or scary. Especially when these elements are featured in a (children’s) picture book.

It’s not the typical alphabet book. There’s no “a is for apple, b is for bunny” mumbo jumbo here. But there is something most alphabet books don’t have: an actual storyline!

The two main characters – a boy and a girl – are left unnamed. I really appreciate this aspect because it makes it seem that boy and girl could be anyone. It could be you, or me, or even your neighbor down the street. I feel that also makes the story a bit more relatable and personal.

This boy and girl have a pet – a pet gazelle! This in and of itself is enough reason to love this book. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want a gazelle as a pet?! Especially one that is as cute as their gazelle.

Speaking of the gazelle, it’s eyes are HUGE and take up the majority of it’s head. Again, totally cute!

At the core of The Dangerous Alphabet lies an adventure story full of pirates and treasure. There’s also an occasional monster.

The illustrations fit the text perfectly. They’re also hauntingly beautiful!

The illustrations are done in a sepia tone which adds to the overall creepy tone of the book.

The main characters (including the gazelle) face their fears and are courageous. This is important because I think it can teach young readers how to stand up to their fears and be courageous when times are rough and scary.

The monster’s featured within the book are actually quite funny, and quite funny looking. For example, one such monster has the body of a fish, but the face and feet of a bird. Still, a rodent like monster is decked out in a suit and gold hoop earring. As if that isn’t funny enough, it has a peg leg!

Everything rhymes!

I especially love how Gaiman worked in himself saying “I am the author who scratches these rhymes,” and the readers saying “U are the reader who shivers with dread.”