"It's simple and elegant, and makes perfect sense for preliterate persons."—Wall Street Journal
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Seeger, the niece of folksinger Pete Seeger, has devised an artful lift-the-flap ABC. From A to Z, labeled die-cut openings in glossy black paper purport to show an "arrowhead," "balloons," a "cloud" and a "door." When readers peek beneath the paper frames, however, they discover a letter of the alphabet. What look like two horizontal white "eggs" on a gingham napkin are also the indentations in a letter E. Two parallel "nails," tilting on a diagonal, turn out to be the slanted angles of the capital N. A plump white "quotation mark" against a red background doubles as the oval center of a Q. And the curvaceous hollow body of a "ukelele" forms the dip in the letter U. Seeger inverts positive and negative space in her paintings, whose warm colors glow from the windows in the light-absorbing black paper; she even incorporates die-cuts into the dust jacket. Her words and images indicate which letter lurks under each flap, and her variably sized rectangular windows give tantalizing hints to the "hidden" shapes. The design is unerringly elegant: each flap lifts from bottom to top to reveal a solid, symmetrical letter form, and the 26 folded pages, printed on tough heavyweight stock, make for a thick but not unwieldy volume. Seeger makes an interactive game of the alphabet and fashions a sophisticated presentation.
School Library Journal
From the black book jacket with cutout openings for each letter of the title to the vibrant, painterly strokes of yellow on the endpapers, Hidden Alphabet is a visual delight. A black mat frames an object on each page. When it is lifted, each of these objects becomes a significant part of the letter's negative space (e.g., two balloons form circles to make the openings in the letter "B"). This clever trick of changing viewers' perspective from foreground to background will keep readers turning the pages to see the other optical illusions this pictorial byplay produces. Because of the way they are formed, the letters are not always completely conventional in shape. This may challenge very young children to identify them, but readers of any age will enjoy seeing a mouse turn into an "M" made of cheese with a few tiny chunks nibbled out of it. Seeger's interesting word choices-arrowhead, inkblot, olive, partridge, quotation mark, yolk-and her sophisticated paintings make this a fascinating artistic experience as well as a learning opportunity.
Seeger's Hidden Alphabet uses a timeworn approach to A through Z that matches each letter with a word that begins with that letter, then adds a lift-the-flap format and a striking graphic design to transform the book into something new. Each shiny, thick black page features a cut-away through which children can view vibrantly colored objects, such as balloons. By lifting the flap, children will be surprised to discover that the object actually forms part of a letter. Kids may need help recognizing some of the objects featured, but the design is bold and clean enough to make the letters easily discernible. It is a book that manages to be both child friendly and visually exciting.
Kirkus Reviews Starred Review:
An outstanding alphabet book...Each page comes as an ingenious surprise...Beautifully designed, fascinating to browse, and eminently successful.
A Kirkus Editor's Choice Best Book of 2003
BEST BOOK OF 2003 award by Child Magazine
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:
Recommended book: ...Each page is executed with polish and panache...This is begging for use in art class...
School Library Journal Starred Review:
Hidden Alphabet is a visual delight...Seeger's sophisticated paintings make this a fascinating artistic experience as well as/a learning opportunity.
...A Concept Book with a capital C...This is great bookmaking, and a snazzy-though sophisticated-addition to the alphabet bookshelf.
American Library Association/ALA Notable Book, 2004
A New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing, 2003
NBC Today Show Best Book for Gift Giving, 2003