Published 1963 by Random House Publishing
Right away, on the title page, we meet two little yellow creatures, one bigger than the other one suggesting an older sibling/younger sibling relationship. They are similar to the siblings in Hop on Pop, but less bear like with longer floppy ears.
They take us through the alphabet showing us the capitalized version and the lowercase version of each letter and then they ask what words start with that letter.
What begins with A?”
After we are shown what each letter looks like we are then told what words start with that letter. Seuss usually uses a person’s name to start and then goes into other nouns. He quickly adds in verbs and adjectives so that complete sentences are formed. This isn’t simply A is for apple. Seuss creates crazy and silly situations that attract kids and keep them flipping pages. The fun images help kids make strong associations between letters and the goofy visuals.
The two yellow siblings get more and more excited as they go through the alphabet and the sentence structure gets more complicated. We quickly get to a page of them yelling A through Y. The page ends with “and….” making readers anxious and excited to flip to the next page, and it is not disappointing. There is a giant Z in a massive blue explosion like “WHAM” or “POW” in a comic book.
Up until this point Seuss has stuck to real creatures, a bear, a rhinoceros, an owl, etc. But for Z he lets his imagination loose and answers the question, “What begins with Z?” with,
I am a
as you can
As if it’s completely ordinary. The end.
Like all other Beginner Books there is no dedication. I think it is interesting to note that it is not Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s, there is no ” ‘s ” after ABC. Also, this is the second book to have “Dr. Seuss’s” at the beginning of the title (the first was Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book.)
Considering one of Seuss’s main goals with his books was to make children WANT to read, it is not surprising that he has more than one book that explains the alphabet in a fun way. On Beyond Zebra, published in 1955, was his first children’s book focused on the alphabet. Dr. Seuss’s ABC is significantly more popular and was published eight years later. He also included the alphabet with little cats A through Z, which popped out of the cat in the hat’s hat in The Cat in The Hat Comes Back.
I have mentioned before that Seuss liked to include inappropriate words in his drafts to make sure his publisher was paying attention. In one version of this book he included an illustration of a large-breasted woman with this verse:
“Big X, little x. X, X, X.
Someday, kiddies, you will learn about SEX.”
Seuss explained, “The first draft of all my stuff is written completely for adults. To keep the story going, to keep in the swing, I’ll write swear words and dirty words and everything else –ending up with an adult piece of writing that children could comprehend. Then I go back and clean up, have a little fun with it.”
Seuss used Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Pink and Purple in this book. He also uses gray which he had not previously done in such large amounts. The text itself has color to emphasize certain moments such as “BIG” and “little.”
The original title is covered with imaginary animals that do not appear in the actual book. A later edition with the “Bright and Early” logo added “An Amazing Alphabet Book!” at the bottom, which seems redundant and unnecessary.
The candy-cane-binder edition decided to include creatures that are not only real animals, but are also actually used in the book. While I am always a fan of the original cover, this change makes the most sense out of some of the random cover changes that have been made for other books.
I do, however, think it’s funny that the camel they use on the cover is actually upside down in the book.
What begins with j?
begin that way.”
My name starts with J and my initials are JAR. I also have a brother named Jerry and a brother named Jordan so I am automatically biased to like the J page the most.
I really enjoy the Russian doll style of this image. Just very silly.
Thanks for reading,