Take Away the A

I’VE said it before, and I’ll say it again: There are many more alphabet books in the world than the world needs. Against poor odds, French authors Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo have created an alphabet book worthy of adding to any library collection. Take Away the A is a clever and beautifully illustrated alphabet book that does more than simply teach kids the letters of the alphabet; it makes word play and learning to sound out words fun.

For each letter of the alphabet, author Michaël Escoffier has identified a pair of words that are only one letter removed from each other. For example, “BEAST” minus “A” is “BEST.” “BRIDE” minus “B” is “RIDE.” “CHAIR” minus “C” is “HAIR.”

These word pairings naturally lead to some absurd humor that is sure to please kids.

For example, “Without the D DICE are ICE.”

…and, “Without the G the GLOVE falls in LOVE.” (I love that the glove has fallen for an octopus here!)

Where a word pair fits too naturally, illustrator Kris Di Giacomo ups the absurdity level with her illustrations. For example, for “Without the B, the BRIDE goes for a RIDE.” Di Giacomo depicts a bride riding — not in a car — but in a ferris wheel.

Illustrator Kris Di Giacomo has created a visually cohesive treat through her muted color scheme, texture and rats that show up in unexpected placed throughout the book.

Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo are not new authors, but they are new to the English language publishing scene. Both have published numerous picture books in French. During the past couple of years, five of their books have been translated to and published in English: Take Away the A, The Day I Lost My Superpowers, Me First!, Brief Thief and Rabbit and the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf.

Take Away the A is loosely based on Escoffier and Giacomo’s French picture book Sans Le A. However, Sans Le A could not be easily translated to English. When this duo decided to create an English-language version of their book, Escoffier had to come up with entirely new word pairs, and Giacomo had to create entirely new illustrations.

I look forward to seeing more English language books from Escoffier and Di Giacomo in the future.

What do you think? Have you read Escoffier and Di Giacomo’s books? Do you have a favorite author or illustrator whose books are translated into English?

Recommended for: Grades K-3. Kids who are learning to sound out words. More advanced readers will enjoy the humor and coming up with and illustrating their own word pairs.

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