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The Dangerous Alphabet Paperback – Jul 19 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Middle Grade; 1 Reprint edition (July 19 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060783354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060783358
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 24.5 x 0.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 45 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Manning-Mansfield HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 11 2009
Format: Hardcover
Virtually a poem written in rhyming couplets this alphabetical (A is for...) verse tells the tale of a journey two children take looking for treasure. The poem itself is vague but it is the illustrations which bring the story to life. Extremely detailed with many events happening on each page, one lingers looking deep inside each picture before turning the page. The illustrations add to the text by showing a story of the brother and sister traveling through an ancient sewer-type of environment and the sister gets kidnapped by some ugly looking dudes. The brother then follows them trying to be a hero and rescue his sister. Not recommended as an ABC book for young children as, for one thing, the alphabet is not entirely in order and the author uses creative licence for what the letters stand for such as "Y's your last question", "U are the reader" and "L is, like 'eaven...". Also the pictures are quite creepy with very creepy creatures, skeletons and lots of bones. For the appropriate age it is a fun book with especially fun illustrations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fiona Hanington on Feb. 12 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman, I've got a weakness for nasty alphabets, and I love a good picture book, so I didn't hesitate to buy this as soon as I heard about it. Money well spent. The artwork by Gris Grimly is astonishing. There's lots to look for here: the picture that accompanies each letter is full of things that start with that letter. On the "M" page, for instance, look for mirrors, milk, mice, mousetraps, manacles, meat, and ... maggots! I'm sure I haven't discovered everything yet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By elfdart TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 20 2008
Format: Hardcover
this alphabet book was almost reminiscent of that tim burton book for kids in that it picks up on a darker mood, but in my opinion it was done much better than tim burton's. it was about these two kids who go on an adventure in some sort of sewer and come across these monsters who want to do bad things to the kids, but they escape by the end. the book rhymes and there's one line per page, which is accompanied by a great illustration depicting the rhyme. the illustrations match the overall mood of the book, and an example can be seen on the cover. i don't know if it's for young children, though i'd try anyways as everything is so white washed nowadays and anything not max and ruby sets your heart racing. it was well done though.
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By Ally on March 22 2011
Format: Hardcover
Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly are the perfect couple for this dark alphabet. I love how a simple concept has created a truly terrifying and intriguing book. When I first opened the book at the library, there was so much to look at, and I immediately sought this book out to buy for my own collection. The words make you whisper in your deepest, creepiest voice. You can also spend the better part of an hour just looking at the pictures. This definitely is not for little ones, unless you want to be staying up with them all night.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 54 reviews
87 of 90 people found the following review helpful
Macabre and wonderful, but scary for young children May 10 2008
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Let me start by saying that I'm not sure I like this book. No, I like it. But my daughter doesn't. And she's the target age. Dangerous Alphabet is one of those hybrid books which are written for children, but which have a much older, more sardonic sense of humour in mind. Gaiman, a master of macabre, specialises in this. So while my five year old made me stop reading because she was "already getting nightmares and she hadn't even gone to bed yet", my ten year old absolutely loved it and kept trying to read it to his younger sister, despite her attempts to get him to stop and take that "horrible book away."

If you buy it for a child that is of picture book age, you may well have a similar scenario. This is, as the title suggests, an alphabet book. But forget about sweet glittery things. A may be for "always", but the youngsters that enter this sewer of horrors soon discover that "E's for the evil that lures and entices", and "F is for Fear and its many devices". There are muffled screams, pies cooked with human looking bones, chained up children, piracy, skulls, vile deeds, and lots of monsters. In short, as is his wont, Gaiman has tapped into the psyche to produce a terrifying trip through an amusement park horror show.

It's also extremely funny, in a black, gruesome way. Older children will love it. There is a little mix-up on the alphabet which children will feel good pointing out, and even a kind of happy ending as the boat comes through the tunnel to the letter Z, though I struggled to convince my daughter of that. The watercolour and ink illustrations are superb - incredibly detailed, with nightmarishly surreal imagery on every page. You might not want your child to look too closely though, as every element, from the chains on the author, the organs in jars, or the maggoty meat on a plate, comes straight from the deepest, most terrified parts of the human psyche. The humour (such as finding two well dressed lovebirds in a boat next to a monster--crossed tunnel-lines perhaps) requires an older perspective to appreciate.

So, while I enjoyed this book for its originality, its anti-cuteness, the amazing detail and intensity of its horror, and the depth and cleverness of its naughty humour, I'm not sure I'd recommend that you buy it for your five year old daughter or niece. Squeamish parents probably won't appreciate it. But ten year old boys will, definitely.

-- Magdalena Ball is the author of Sleep Before Evening
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A is for Always May 10 2008
By Arienette Cervantes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Oh this is so good.
Its written the way that nightmares are supposed to be recorded. I mean-its an alphabet book for someone who is well aware of how the alphabet works. Its reminiscent of 'The Gashlycrumb Tinies' but this is creative and new in is own right. And none of the characters die.
You could almost expect to see this organized as poetry -although the illustrations really bring the language to life. very compatible-Gaiman and Grimly.
My favorite page is 'B is for Boat, pushing off in the dark'(the barbed wire and the vulture and the sense that these awful things are preferable to drifting into the darkness).
You kind of get lost in the story...Made aware that the author is no longer Neil Gaiman but a tree monster with sprawling roots and draped in a chains ('I am the author who scratches these rhymes')
This is taunting and relentless-unlike many "scary" books for children these days; this one does not bring comfort in the end...maybe indifference...definetely not comfort.
This is a little grim. But it is so fun.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Teach Your Children to Fear the Alphabet. Or Love it. One of those Two Emotions. May 12 2009
By Mr. P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
For my young niece's (she is four now, and proud of it) birthday, I decided that what she truly needed in her life was an Alphabet Book. The child has been pestering her mother to learn how to read for nearly two years now, and so I believed it to be my solemn duty to provide her with a Book from Which To Learn. I turned to author Neil Gaiman for aid in this matter, and upon her birthday delivered to her the Dangerous Alphabet.

I am a novice uncle. I do not know what little children enjoy; were it nephews I would buy them Ninja Turtles, but I am confused and frightened by My Little Pony. Literature is the ground that I retreat to, and I am lucky that my niece is a child of learning who enjoys reading.

She loves The Dangerous Alphabet. It is one of her Favourite Books, which means that soon enough she will not have to know how to read it, because she will have Memorized the thing from the repetition of her parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents reading and re-reading the book to her.

If this is not the kind of book that you want your child to read (I can't imagine why, do you not like children? Do you not believe in Whimsy?) then I would recommend that you get it anyway. You might not want your child reading it, but your child certainly will want to read it.

For those of you who enjoy such things, and would like a book that you can enjoy along with your child, then I heartily recommend this most Dangerous of Alphabets to you.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
not quite there Aug. 28 2008
By Elmore Hammes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is hard for me to give anything by Gaiman less than 4 or 5 stars, but this one just doesn't cut it. Maybe if it had been intended for 8 and above rather than the suggested 4 to 8 age range - but as done, it is way too macabre for the audience.

The couplets forming the text of the book are not all as sharp as I would expect from the talented writer - and if you just read them straight through, they don't form the complete picture as a poem that they should. The story is jagged and incomplete.

The drawings by Gris Grimly are superior, but also way off base for younger children. Each page is filled with gruesome details, some are fine and even fun to spy - such as a worm coming out of an apple or bones revealed by an x-ray machine. But others include blood coming from the wrists of a child manacled to a wall, children in stew pots and chained by their necks.

While I think older children - those able to more clearly distinguish fantasy from reality - and adults can enjoy this book, I would not give it to a child under 8 or 9. This alphabet is just a tad too dangerous for the wee ones.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good Alternative to Saccharine Sweet Alphabets, but Very Dark March 8 2009
By Z. Chen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have always enjoyed both the works of Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly. I thought this would be a delightful read for my son, as many books for his age range are so saccharine sweet and it's nice to have a bit of variety sometimes.
When I received the book and did the initial read through, I was worried. There are events in the book such as the usage of the letter "C" for "see" and the letter "U" for "you" that didn't sit well with me. Now I know it is hard to write an alphabet book with the letter U without forcing usage of the word umbrella, but the letter C? Come on! Also the letter W appears to happen before the letter V, something that just irked me. This book is decidedly macabre. Nonetheless, after some careful consideration of my son's book collection which includes scarier offerings such as "Where the Wild Things Are," I decided to plow ahead.
I would not have been surprised if he was scared, however he loved the book. He is at a point in his alphabet books where most of them bore him with their staccato approach, each letter, disconnected from the rest. There is a storyline here, about a pair of children who sneak off from the father with their pet gazelle and a treasure map to search for treasure in the dark underground city full of unscrupulous individuals. In the end, there is a happy ending. (This is a children's book, after all.) I have caught my son telling his own rendition of the tale to his toys. This is something that doesn't usually happen with alphabet books in our house.
We read this book at least five times in a row before we move on to something else, daily. He likes to snuggle up next to either us and have us read the book in that creepy voice normally reserved for campfires. My son's main gripe is that it's too short, as it is a quick read. He delights in the pictures and is constantly finding fun things in them. Such as the author reading the book to a selection of 'captive' children and how the author placed V on W's page and vice-versa. However, seeing as how many of the items in the images are beyond his vocabulary (albatross, Jörmungandr, Portuguese man of war, etc) I can't really ask him to name many things on the pages. There is also some imagery that I'd rather not bring up with a 4-year old yet, like corpses, dead dog, or penguin pelt.
I think everybody may be ready for this type of book at a different stage. It may depend on what your child has already been exposed to. I'd say there's nothing worse in here than you'd find visually in "The Nightmare before Christmas." If your child enjoys being scared or books about monsters, this is a very delightful read. Some parts of it are more disturbing to me than him. An example would be the image of the meat pies, (Sweeney Todd imagery for me, chicken pie imagery for him), but we each take from each picture what we want to believe. So if it's for you (wink wink), then go ahead and buy it. If it's for your child, I'd suggest reading it to them and judging from their reactions their actual readiness for it.

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