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Alphabet City [Paperback]

By Stephen T. Johnson (Illustrator)
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Item Number 160835  
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Item description for Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson...

Pastels and watercolors capture objects in everyday surroundings that look like the letters of the alphabet in this 1996 Caldecott Honor-winning book for children of all ages. Reprint.

Publishers Description
The urban landscape will never look the same again. As Stephen T. Johnson demonstrates in a series of strikingly realistic pastels and watercolors, a simple sawhorse can contain the letter "A"--while lampposts alongside a highway can form a row of elegant, soaring Ys. A 1996 Caldecott Honor book, this sophisticated, wordless alphabet book is sure to appeal to young and old alike.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2010 page 1379
  • Publishers Weekly - 11/15/1999 page 69
  • Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2001 page 628
  • Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2006 page 910

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Puffin
Pages   32
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 10.47" Width: 8.27" Height: 0.13"
Weight:   0.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 1999
Publisher   Puffin
Age  1-5
ISBN  0140559043  
ISBN13  9780140559040  
UPC  051488006992  

Availability  27 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 19, 2017 06:14.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
Orders shipping to an address other than a confirmed Credit Card / Paypal Billing address may incur and additional processing delay.

More About Stephen T. Johnson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stephen T. Johnson is a highly versatile American artist whose art spans a broad range of concepts, contexts and mediums including painting, collage, drawing, sculpture and installations and can be seen in museum and gallery exhibitions, public art commissions, and through his original award-winning children's books.
Much of Johnson's work is characterized by an interest in the alphabet and language, which began with his book Alphabet City, a Caldecott Honor and New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year. His most recent engagement with the alphabet is his ongoing series of "literal abstractions" which are the subject of his book A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet, also a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and featured in several solo museum and gallery exhibitions.

Stephen T. Johnson currently resides in Lawrence, in the state of Kansas.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Children > Ages 4-8 > General
2Books > Subjects > Children > Baby-3 > Basic Concepts > Alphabet
3Books > Subjects > Children > People & Places > Where We Live > City Life > Fiction
4Books > Subjects > Children > People & Places > Where We Live > City Life > Nonfiction
5Books > Subjects > Children > Ages 4-8
6Books > Subjects > Children > Literature

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Reviews - What do customers think about Alphabet City?

Great for kids of all ages  Apr 15, 2008
Cool alphabet book. I didn't even realize that the illustrations were paintings and not photographs until I read some reviews! Encourages kids' imaginations, encourages them to notice their surroundings, gives an opening for a geography/history lesson or an opening for an art discussion -- all kinds of uses including the most important one of all - simple enjoyment.
Reading these exciting words: "The paintings for this book were created with pastels, watercolors, gouache and charcoal on hot pressed watercolor paper" I feel a deep urge to take a plunge into doing art. Luckily we can see "it" everywhere, not just New York City.

Stephen Johnson dedicates "ALPHABET CITY" to his parents "for their constant belief in me and my art." Besides instilling confidence & joy, they must also have helped their son develop a sense of color & texture, humor and even x-ray vision! Now he has his first Caldecott award.

This is a joy-filled book. Children spontaneously shout the letters but also share their own made-up stories as they see beneath the surface of the paints. "M" is a favorite of mine, and "W" and "Y" (and on & on!). Who could choose a better image than the "A" of sawhorses to lead to "Z"? Sometimes obvious, and other times subtle, the contrasts in color and season are lovely and great fun. Many eyes will open much wider after experiencing "Alphabet City."

Reviewer mcHAIKU is crazy about art AND this book.
Alphabet City minus the grunge  Dec 3, 2005
How successful an alphabet book is relies entirely on how well it conveys the alphabet to children. Sometimes books of this nature are so wrapped up in their own cleverness (like the wearily look-at-me-aren't-I-a-visual-delight, "Graphic Alphabet" by David Pelletier) that they forget who alphabet books are supposed to be FOR. Now "Alphabet City" is clever too. No question of that. But what Stephen T. Johnson has done here is whip up a book that inner city kids will immediately recognize and cling to. How many alphabet collections are there out there that form letters out of pastoral or countryside setting? Plenty. Johnson turns the idea on its head with near photo-realistic paintings of recognizable city objects and places.

In his forward to the book, Johnson explains that the roots of this project are based in his own love of the, "particular energy one senses in the people, sounds, and structures, old and new, that constitute a city". While out for a stroll on day, he found he could find letters in the most basic city structures, like fire-escapes and sawhorses. "Alphabet City" is the result. Each letter, always a capital, is presented as part of the environment around it. So the aforementioned sawhorse is the very first picture, with kids being able to readily recognize the "A" hidden in its crossbeams. No letter is going to be immediately easy to find. Johnson doesn't outline them in darker paints or even necessarily point them out in any way. The "R" hidden in leaf covered cobblestones is evident if sneaky. He also cheats a little here and there to get just the right shape. To find the "C" in the cathedral's beautiful window, a late afternoon shadow covers part of the circle. By and large, however, Johnson executes an extraordinarily clever conjunction of images. I would have thought it near impossible to find a "Q" in the city, but the wheel well of a stationary train proved me wrong. Johnson also flits back and forth between different kinds of light and shadow. You'll find yourself quite taken with his mysterious and towering "T", or the snow-covered bench that provides an "O". It makes for perhaps the most interactive alphabetic picture book out there.

This book does work on the premise that the children reading it already recognize the alphabet as it stands. How hard would it have been for Johnson to have place a large black letter in the corner of each page, allowing kids the chance to learn as well as explore? If you're a four-year-old and can't remember if "Q" comes before or after "R", this book will be no help to you. That said, for those kids already familiar with the shapes in this collection, "Alphabet City" can become a game in their off hours. They can walk down the street pointing out the letters they see in their own neighborhoods. Some pictures admittedly feel like Johnson is cheating. He obviously could have located an "L" anywhere, but did he have to make it so difficult for the readers by constructing such a convoluted image? Try flipping randomly to some of the pages and see whether or not you can figure out what letter you're on. Betcha bottom dollar you don't guess "F" or "G".

I complain, but only because I love. Truth be told, "Alphabet City" blew me away. There are all kinds of seasons here and a true love for city living that rings true. Johnson has a keen eye for the beauty inherent in urban living. Rust and peeling paint and moldering iron and missing tilework all combine into truly beautiful portraits. The alphabet has never been done so eclectically. Alphabet books with a designer bent always leave me a touch cold, but "Alphabet City" is different. Like its sequel, "City By Numbers" it's original and lovingly rendered. Consider pairing it with "Achoo Bang Crash" by Ross MacDonald and "New York, New York: The Big Apple From A to Z" by Laura Krauss Melmed for a truly urban and urbane alphabetic threesome.
Alphabet City  Sep 16, 2005
Great book when teaching the alphabet, students can see that letters are not just in the classroom but also in real life.
Recognizing letters  Sep 15, 2004
Stephen T. Johnson's Caldecott Honor Book (1996) Alphabet City is a wordless book depicting paintings of scenes from urban life cleverly depict each of the letters of the alphabet. Each letter (and painting) has its own page, such as an "E" in a side view of a traffic light, an "M" in the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge, an "R" in the cracks in the sidewalk, and a "T" in the negative space between two tall buildings. The paintings are photo-realistic in style and view scenes from a variety of unique vantage points, some showing an entire landscape while others focus on a small detail. The large size of the book and the high-quality glossy paper display the paintings to full effect. Children who have newly learned their letters will enjoy showing off by spotting the letters "hidden" in the everyday settings and will likely begin spotting more letters in their own surroundings. There is a secondary message in this book about the prominence of language in our daily lives and that we are surrounded by letters and language.

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