“The Dangerous Alphabet” by Neil Gaiman, ill. by Gris Grimly

Neil Gaiman’s new picture book, illustrated by Gris Grimly is the frightfully entertaining Dangerous Alphabet. It is not, however, for the squeamish or faint of heart.

A piratical ghost story in thirteen ingenious but potentially disturbing rhyming couplets, originally conceived as a confection both to amuse and to entertain…featuring two brave children, their diminutive but no less courageous gazelle, and a large number of extremely dangerous trolls, monsters, bugbears, creatures, and other such nastinesses, many of which have perfectly disgusting eating habits and ought not, under any circumstances, to be encouraged.

The text and illustrations might scare some children, but my two boys, 2 and 5 years old, love this book. The tale unfolds visually, with finely etched painted drawings accompanied by Gaiman’s rhyming couplets. There are a lot of clumsy rhyming books, but Gaiman, with a background in Shakespeare, executes seamless and flowing poetry. Often, though, Grimly’s detailed illustrations cause the boys and me to pause, which interrupts the rhyme of the couplet. It’s a nice problem to have. As with many alphabet books, there are more items on each page than are named. I would guess it’s unique, though, in its depiction of maggots and meat on the M page. I see something new each time I read the book.

The Dangerous Alphabet is great fun for fans of ghoulish humor books for kids, like those of Roald Dahl, Edward Gorey or Lemony Snicket. Others might want to keep their distance. And thus their lunch.

2 Responses to ““The Dangerous Alphabet” by Neil Gaiman, ill. by Gris Grimly”

  1. Sherry Says:

    It sounds like fun to me. Have you read Lois Lowry’s new book, The WIlloughbys? I reviewed it here, and if you’re fond of Dahl and Lemony Snicket, you might like The WIlloughbys, too.

  2. girldetective Says:

    I read your review; The Willoughby’s sounds wonderful! I found it interesting that it sounds more like a chapter book and is aged 9 to 12, but the picture book Last Alphabet is also 9 to 12, perhaps for subject matter.