The Z Was Zapped

If have a letter torture fetish, then this book will rock your world.  If you're part of the other 99.99999% of the population, not so much. 

*The black-and-white illustrations are like a mastery course in shading and perspective  
*It was kind of fun to guess what word would correspond to the depiction of each letter
*A few weeks ago, we attended our first professional puppet show, and reading this felt like we just attended our second -- cool concept (abstractly speaking)

*I absolutely hated how I had to flip a page to read the text for each letter presented 
*Any innocence your child had left before reading this will be stripped away after viewing images of drowning, nailing and kidnapping 
*When a publisher lists seven superlative reviews on the inside jacket cover for the illustrator/author's (notice the order those words were presented) other work, you know they probably had a tough time finding someone to do the same for the book you are holding

What we have here is an excellent case study in the value of taking risks within an established category of kidlit.  With all the alphabet books out there, an author really needs to do something special to break through.    Chris Van Allsburg obviously understands that, judging from the tact he took in TZWZ.  But there's a huge difference between good memorable and bad; and, unfortunately for him, his final product missed the mark for me.  The first two cons were more than enough for me to zap it straight to hell, but I spared the work because its pictures were really impressive, albeit inappropriate.  Isn't it ironic that by giving TZWZ a better rating, I'm watering down the notoriety a Destroy would have given something that strived to be so unique?

Buy / Borrow / DONATE / Destroy

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