Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Alphabetical: How every letter tells a story - by Michael Rosen

Wordies will love this gorgeous book written by the author of bestselling children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  Rosen presents Word of Mouth on BBC Radio 4 and seriously loves language. He’s pretty adept at using it, too. Alphabetical is a charming and engaging journey from A through to Z, with plenty of anecdote and zest to keep you entertained.

Before we got to our nice little tidy alphabetic system of 21 consonants and 5 vowels, there was a whole lot of invention and establishing of conventions to be gone through. In Alphabetical, each letter gets a chapter of its own, starting with a brief little intro outlining its historical origins and correct pronunciation. But that’s not where the fun is and Rosen knows it, so he keeps the technical details short and sweet.

While, the chapter entitled ‘The Story of A – A is for Alphabet’ is a necessary and logical place to start his alphabetical expose, Rosen soon goes exploring the many curving side streets and alleys leading off from other letters: ' D is for Disappeared Letters', while 'E is for e. e. cummings', and 'T is for Txtspk'. From rappers to ciphers and Cockneys to typewriters, Rosen keeps up a lively pace until he finishes up with a bit of discussion on the not so rational organisation of zipcodes.

Not many word nerds pull off a book of this nature with such flair. Rosen keeps things light, concise, and quite personal. If you’ve always wanted to know your P’s from your Q’s but thought this kind of book might have you nodding off before your coffee’s gone cold, reconsider. This is the one for you.

Reviewed by Spot

Catalogue Link – Alphabetical

For more information or to see Michael Rosen read ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, visit his website.

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