One-Minute Book Reviews

February 29, 2008

Delete Key Awards Finalist #1 – Steve Martin and Roz Chast’s ‘The Alphabet from A to Y: With Bonus Letter Z!’

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 4:55 pm
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Delete Key Awards Finalist #1 – From The Alphabet From At to Y: With Bonus Letter Z!’ by Steve Martin and Roz Chast:

“Henrietta the hare wore a habit in heaven, / Her hairdo hid hunchbacks: one hundred and seven.”

And special mention to Chast for a drawing that may leave thousands of children with the idea that the plural of “Inca” is “Incans”

Hey, kids! You’re never too young to make fun of people who are different from you! That’s an implicit message of the shortlisted lines from this demented bestseller by the actor and cartoonist. Yes, American publishers have brought out far too many dreary children’s books that are longer on ideological correctness than good writing. But do we really need books that encourage 2-to-4-year-olds – the usual audience for alphabet books – to laugh at people with disabilities? In this book the joke isn’t on fictional hunchbacks like Quasimodo but on those who look like your Uncle Ed. It doesn’t help that one of Chast’s drawings gives the plural of “Inca” as “Incans” instead of “Incas” or “Inca.”

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Having decided to read your list in numeric order, I will say that this one comes first in giving it the award. No, I haven’t read it, neither am I so steeped in political correctness that I can’t take a few jokes. But hunchbacks and misspelling plurals just make me feel that:
    1) S Martin, who I typically enjoy, is trying too hard and no one wants to reign him in.
    2) There are some excellent copyeditors/proofers out there and no one should be so blithe as to think they don’t need one or two or six of them before going to print.

    Comment by oh — March 1, 2008 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

  2. “No one wants to reign him in” — that’s my guess, too. Authors who make a lot of money for their publishers can often get away with much more than the little-known writers can. And in this case there were two of them …

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — March 2, 2008 @ 1:54 am | Reply

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