YA – Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word

Fleischman, Paul, and Melissa Sweet. Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word. Candlewick Press, 2020. 978-0-763-69066-5. 144 p. $19.99. Grades 7-12.

In the wonderful world of words, there are few who have wondered and wandered beyond the norm and taken the written word to the next level. Many of these remarkable wordsmiths are uncelebrated and previously ignored by the kid lit world. Paul Fleischman is the bookworm to shine a spotlight on these stories in this unique alphabet book. He shouts like a circus ringmaster and sells each oddity with an entertaining cadence. Melissa Sweet sweetens the narration with her captivating collages and artistic alphabetic quotations. See Robert Shields, who journaled every minute of his day for 24 straight years! Behold Ross Eckler, who coded shifting letters to rearrange the alphabet and created isogram games which don’t repeat letters! And discover the gifts of Marc Okrand, who invented a whole new language for aliens! All these and much more are waiting for you to explore. But beware, this is not a simple to follow ABC book and may leave you head scratching and brain baffled! Nonetheless, the wonder of it all will be worth your linguistic while.

THOUGHTS: While I hoped for this to be more elementary accessible, it was enjoyable from an academic standpoint. Playing with the language and learning its complexities may not appeal to the hoi polloi, yet this text will open readers to fascinating new pathways to literacy and learning. Recommended for secondary collections.

809 Linguistics        Dustin Brackbill    State College Area SD