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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > APRIL 2017 > Letter carrier

Letter carrier

Bill Richardson’s tale of a robber with a penchant for vowels and consonants is a fun literary romp

PICTURE BOOK

* The Alphabet Thief

Bill Richardson and Roxanna Bikadoroff, ill.

Groundwood Books, Ages 5-9

THE TITLE CHARACTER in Bill Richardson and Roxanna Bikadoroff’s new book looks one part Carmen Sandiego and two parts Blue Meanie, and acts in precisely the manner her name suggests. She appears fleetingly; mostly we follow her trail of damage.

Our villain runs through the world pilfering the alphabet in order, and the letters she steals change the words in the text, resulting in new hybrid creatures and startling situations. “The Alphabet Thief stole all the D’s / and every beard was a bear,” for example. In this scenario, two men are surprised when their facial hair suddenly takes the form of angry grizzlies.

Trailing the thief is a freckled and bespectacled redheaded girl in a black beret accompanied by a scruffy white pup. She acts as narrator and occasionally interacts with the odd scene. The unnamed heroine’s moment of triumph comes when we reach Y, which she uses as a slingshot to launch a volley of Zs at our thief, stopping the crime wave with slumber.

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